We all want to be better parents. There are hundreds of parenting sites and a ton of information out there on how to become a better parent. Raising two boys of my own (ages seven and three!) and having read much of the information out there, there are a few more I would like to add:
- Remind yourself every single day how grateful you are to have them: We know that you love your children. We also know that deep down in your heart you are grateful that you have them. Loving your children and knowing in your heart of hearts that you are grateful to have them in your life does not help you navigate the daily challenges of being a parent with grace and patience. You need a daily gratefulness practice to remind yourself that your children help you transform into a better version of yourself bit by bit every day in the course of a lifetime. Think of all the little moments of joy, the cuddles, the hugs, the cuteness overload you get to experience every single day when there are people out there who would do anything to be parents but can't. Gratefulness will help cultivate the patience you need to raise your kids.
- Wake up your kids as affectionately as you can: Remember that one day, they will be out of your nest and you will not be able to wake them up. Smother them with hugs and kisses. Goof around with them in bed. Show them that it's great to get to live another day with your family.
- Talk to your kids every chance you get: Start conversing with your kids at a very early age. Treat them as equal conversation partners by asking questions and responding to their answers. Do not worry if the conversation sounds one-way at first and you are not getting very much out of them. Be happy with nods and yes/no answers. Keep going day after day. The most important thing is to make this an expected part of your child's day. Something that they would miss if they did not do it.
- Help your kids see you as a real person with needs and wants and not just as "Mom" or "Dad": Keep it real. Do not put on a false front. Cry in front of your kids if you need to just as you would laugh. Kids need to understand it is not that you are never weak but that you have the resilience to heal yourself and get back on your feet.
- Expect more from them than they can comfortably achieve: While it is important that we are careful about our children's developmental level as we help them set goals, it is equally important to keep them outside their comfort zone so they can grow. Knowing that their parents have high expectations for their life has two benefits for kids: One is that they learn that nothing really is impossible and you can achieve what you set out do. This is a very important state of mind to cultivate in kids, that anything is achievable as long as you want it. Two is they understand that their parents trust their capabilities. This gives them confidence.
I would be glad to hear your favorite better parent tips in the comments!