Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety?
So read a hook line that came into my notifications. There’s a TED talk up now on this subject by Jennifer Senior. I have yet to watch it and I am not sure I will make the time. If I do it will be to see how many of my from-the-trenches theories match hers. I may be on an entirely different tangent. But the headline intrigued me, got me thinking.
So I humbly offer these tips for making parenting less stressful
- There is no perfection. No perfect parent, no perfect child. You will make mistakes you would love to go back and change. They will embarrass you even when they seem old enough to know better. Don’t beat yourself up. Or them. Learn from it and move on.
- There is no one right way. You can read the experts from now till you’re gray-headed. Some advice will work for your family, other guidelines will not. In the end no one knows your child like you do. Do what is best for your family. Trust your gut. That is the right way. And it’s flexible.
- Keep family at the center. People like to scream about how children have to be with age mates to learn socialization. This is wrong. They need people who have learned social skills–adults–to teach them social skills. They practice social skills with their peers. When children are more parent dependent than peer dependent (care more about pleasing their family than their friends) they are in a position to make wise decisions when their peers are not. Achieving this goal requires time at home as opposed to a constant stream of after-school and summer programs with children the same age.
- Look for their strengths. Every child has them. Strangely, it seems easier to find fault. After all, just about every paper turned into a teacher is “corrected”, combed for errors. Which has its place. But when children know and understand their strengths, they can work to deal with shortcomings from a place of confidence. Not to mention that genuine praise from a loving parent is a treasured gift.
- Teach them to cope with or overcome their weaknesses. Back to the perfection thing: all children have weaknesses and shortcomings; there are no perfect children. Accepting the fact that your child makes mistakes, keeps you from arguing with people who also recognize faults and want to help the child improve. When parents help their children understand that all people on the planet have strengths and weaknesses, then there is no need to compare the spelling champ to the football captain and have someone feel inferior. They are equal, just different.
- Remember the goal is to let them go so they can create their own happiness. I think this is the hardest part of parenting. When you love your children dearly, want the best for them and to protect them from harm, it can be hard to give them the freedom they need to learn to make good decisions. But if you make yourself do that, and encourage independence, then you are going to have an easier time adjusting to a daughter- or son-in-law. Instead of losing a child, you can develop proper boundaries that allow you to gain a child. Happiness is an expanding family that can still stay close.
- It is far better to be wanted than needed. Someday your child won’t need you. Build a relationship that makes you someone the child wants in his or her life, always.
- Don’t lose sight of the other things in your life that bring you joy. Enjoy your friends and your hobbies. Lead a full and happy life. Children learn by example.
- Teach them morals. Moral laws, like physical laws, keep us healthy and unharmed. Even though this worlds wants to redefine immorality, the fact remains that breaking moral laws with impunity leads to harm and heartache. Don’t let other people tell you or your children that wrong is right.
- Love them. Last in this list but most important. Unselfish, self-sacrificing love will cover a multitude of mistakes and create an up breakable bond. Loving and being loved is the greatest happiness.