There are a million books, trends and parenting styles out there today. As a new parent, you will get advice from everyone and anyone. But what about once your kids are older? Should you stick to the same rules you did as a newbie? Most parents of adolescents will tell you NO! They’ve learned along the way that many of the things they thought when they started out as a parent are just that, trends.
Instead of trying to stick to a manual, or style of being, many parents just use common sense and reason. In this blog, we want to discuss a few ideas that have become more and more obvious to most parents, especially parents of older children and teens.
Don’t Try to Make Your Child Well-Rounded
Most of us have grown up with the idea that in order to get into college, and later become a successful adult, we need to excel at many different things. But what have we actually found out when we got into the world of work? Often times it’s better to excel at a few specific areas in life, and find what your passion is. (Learn More)
When children are young, it is a good idea to expose them to many different activities and subjects in school. But once they have tried a variety of things, some are starting to believe that honing in on a more specific area is best. It allows your child to develop his or her strengths, and feel passionate about a specific aspect of their life.
Trends Fade Away, Instead be the Adult You Want Your Children to Become
What better way is there to teach a child than to be the best example for them that you can be? When you think back to your childhood, who is it that you remember as being a positive influence in your life? The adult who scolded, talked things to death, and had a certain set of rules. Or the adult who was compassionate, caring and overall a good role model.
The do as I say, not as I do method often does not work well for kids, and instead can cause them to be disrespectful and inattentive. Instead, why not just be a good person. Someone you yourself would look up to, and a positive role model. Not only will your kids enjoy you as a parent and friend, but your adult relationships will likely flourish as well.
Responding to Your Kids is a GOOD Thing
Kids interrupt, we all see it and hear it, whether we are a parent or not. But when is it appropriate to answer them, and when is it not? As babies, parents should respond to their children almost always. Over and over research has shown that babies need comforting more than at any other time in life, and healthy attachments are made quickly with a parent who is responsive to their infant.
When kids get older, we start to teach them that interrupting and always getting their ideas in are not always acceptable. We shush them and tell them to wait their turn. This is a good idea, because as an adult we all need to learn to listen to others, not just always be heard. Just make sure that you are responding more than you are not. Also keep in mind that asking your child to wait their turn, or be quiet for a moment, is still responding. (Myths about parenthood)
You May Think You Know Your Kids, but Remember that You Are Biased
As a parent, you know a lot about your children. You know when they are tired, what they like for dinner, and their favorite subject in school. You know their friends and what activities they are involved in.
But what about the way they act during recess? Or their attitude towards other kids in their school whom they don’t associate with much? When it comes time to listen to teachers or coaches about your kid’s behavior, remember that you are biased, as you should be, about your child. You love them unconditionally and want the best for them, but in certain situations it is imperative that you try to be objective, when necessary.
Your Kids CAN Go Wherever You Go
We all hate it when we go to have a nice quiet dinner and end up listening to a baby or toddler at another table screaming the whole time. Most people find this rude, especially if we are not parents ourselves. But is it then best to leave kids home when Mom and Dad want to go out for a meal?
One theory is that it is best to bring your kids with you early on, taking them to any place that you want to go. Teach them the rules of each place (i.e. we sit at restaurants and eat, but we can run and play when we go hiking). Try to mix it up so kids don’t get bored, and expose them to as much as possible. The idea is that most kids will learn quickly where and when they need to be behaved and quiet, and where they can open up and play.
Always Putting Your Child First is NOT Best
This is becoming one of the most important ideas when it comes to parenting as of late. It’s not a trend, but instead a common misconception that all parents should ALWAYS put their children ahead of themselves. In addition, not only are kids’ needs often put before an individual parent, but also ahead of their relationship with their spouse.
This idea is changing drastically. Parents today are realizing that in order to be a positive, successful role model to their children, they need to make sure that their needs are met too. This includes paying close attention to the relationship with their spouse too. It is almost impossible to be a good parent if you as an individual are unhappy and stressed. Taking time for yourself, spending adult-only time with your spouse, and going out with friends are all important things to do while balancing your life as a parent. (Read here)
So what is the take-away from this article? We think that most successful parents use common sense, strive to be a good role model, and take time for themselves. They have realistic expectations about themselves and their kids, and have a healthy balance between rules, boundaries and flexibility. If you’re reading this and have an older child, we bet that you have already come to realize what we’ve discussed. If you are a parent of younger kids, we help this article gives you an idea of what kind of parent you want to be to a young adult. Of course each child is different, and each parent’s approach varied as well, but we hope this article can shed some light on a few ideas that will help the relationship between you and your child.