Look, I’m not an expert and I’m not going to present myself as such. Parents are bombarded every day with “expert” opinion on how to raise their children but can I tell you, in my humble opinion, only you, the parent, is the expert. You know yourself, your children, and family dynamic better than anyone. You know what you want for your children and the kind of parent you want to be. Trial and error, yes error, is what will guide your success and create a parent that your children will love and respect as they get older. I know it is difficult to hear that your children are basically a social experiment but it is true. People, and of course children, are unpredictable and how actions and words are perceived by each individual is unpredictable. For example, I was talking to my niece who happens to be visually impaired the other day and she related a story to me about when she was in high school she got a good score on a science exam and the teacher said to the whole class afterwards: “You should be ashamed of yourselves with your scores. (My nieces name is being changed for privacy) Clara outscored all of you and she is virtually blind.” Now this was supposed to be a compliment to Clara but she teared up when she told me because she took it to mean that if a blind girl can do well then you sighted people should have done better. Like because she’s blind she should have been too stupid to get high marks on a test. Now that isn’t at all what the teacher meant but that is how she took it. image courtesy of Nicole Schwartz book with the same name
So just take comfort in that you will make mistakes and all you can do is be the best you can be. Don’t be afraid to tell your children when you mess up and apologize a lot. Parenting equals humility and a lot of apologies. With all of that being said let me give you a few pointers about parenting that may or not help but you get to choose what to implement, change or implement. Also remember that none of these should be written in stone:
5. Environmental awareness
What you do regarding the earth will be an example to your children when it comes to the environment. If your family is vegetarian and you’ve made that choice due to, in part, the environmental impact cows have on C02 emissions explain it to the kids. Recycle, if you spend time outdoors explain littering, what the trees and plants do for us, etc. You can even have an impact on the environment based on what diapers you use.
4. Seek out relevant podcasts, vlogs, and blogs
Just because there is someone on a podcast, vlog, and or blogs doesn’t necessarily mean they know what’s best for you and your family. Keeping up with the “Jones'” has become more and more prevalent in today’s culture. But among all of the stuff you read don’t think it is all good stuff for you and your children. Recently I found a podcast about nurseries and Instagram and how what you see may not be the safest. Advise and pictures seem good but please evaluate what works but still keep researching how to be the best parent you can be.
3. Creating a nurturing family culture
Understanding your family culture and how you work together as a family. Are you a family of American Dreamers, a family that is faithful (not necessarily in a religious sense), a family that is socially involved OR a combination? Whatever the culture you create within your family will be taken into the world by your children. My family was a teasing/sarcastic family and I have definitely nurtured that but probably shouldn’t have.
2. Let Go of a perfect family ideology
This is a stressful and unattainable expectation for yourself and your kids. If you expect perfection you will not only be hard on yourself but you will be hard on the kids. When you do this kids will create their own parental voices in their heads that they will listen to as they get older. What voice do you want them to hear an encouraging nurturing voice or a critical self-deprecating voice. It is up to you as the parent what voice your children will hear in their heads as they achieve adulthood.
1. yes parenting
Yes Parenting is a relatively new thing, and one that I’ve had to look into myself since my mom was a No Parent either to save me emotionally from trying things that she interpreted as too difficult or too dangerous. I now think yes parenting can be a very good thing but shouldn’t be the entire approach to parenting. Letting your children make mistakes and be successful will increase their self-esteem. It will take a lot of time on your part it isn’t philosophy that just lets your kids run willy-nilly through life with no boundaries, it may actually be more involved.
Please remember that these “Next Best Things In Parenting” are merely a way to get you started on creating a family that is strong, vulnerable, and successful that can rise to challenges that will face you and your children in a loving way, and isn’t that what we all want? A family that is loving even in the face of challenges.