Your Investment as a Parent
Parents have the awesome responsibility of teaching values and personal life skills to their children. Instilling the right values in your child comes from three daily investments:
• Role modeling.
• Family time
• Good communication.
As a parent it is your job to model healthy behavior. Children learn what they live. You are the best teacher for your child. Take a few moments and answer the following questions:
1. Do you take good care of yourself? Do you eat properly, get enough rest, and find healthy activities in which to be involved?
2. Do you have the proper supports in place? Do you have good friends, church, synagogue and a good relationship with extended family?
3. Do you encourage and appreciate strengths more than you criticize?
4. Are you honest?
5. Do you follow through on consequences?
It’s important to lead healthy lives as models for our children. Do not feel defeated if you need to work on some of these areas in your life. Identify which characteristics you need to work on and keep at it until you are modeling healthy behaviors
No matter how old your children are or how resistant they appear to be, it is important to maintain daily contact with each one of them. This affords you an opportunity to observe their actions and more importantly, listen to their issues or concerns. Family time can be as simple as checking in with them on the way to ball practice or tucking them in at the end of the day.
Kids need rituals. No matter how much they resist them, they need family dinners and gatherings. They will try to convince you they need autonomy, but this needs to be balanced with family time. Don’t cave, especially when they use other parents as a comparison to you. You know the common statement, “Sandy’s mom doesn’t make her do it.” or “Tom’s mom allows him to stay by himself.” It’s better to err on the side of being protective than on the lenient side.
I am constantly reminding parents they need to conserve their precious energy. If you have made a statement once and the child has responded to it with a casual comment, then they heard you and you don’t need to say it again. There is no reason to be repetitious. Children hate lectures, despite the fact that they will engage you in a debate that requires them. When you say the same thing over and over again, they immediately turn on the “screen saver” and use “selective listening”.
Use reflective listening. Repeat back your child’s concerns without your parental rebuttal or opinion. It keeps their defenses down and it helps them to get clearer about their feelings. Ninety percent of all your communication should really be about listening and reflecting back what they say.
If you invest the time and energy into these simple concepts it will make a difference in your relationship with your child. You may not notice the changes right away, so keep at it. You have made the most important decision in your lifetime. It’s no wonder it can feel overwhelming at times. Try to keep it simple and remember the formula. Role modeling plus family time plus good communication equals responsible parenting.