When we are in child-bearing years, we all dream of creating a “perfect” family. We often talk-about, analyze, and critique the many mistakes our parents made and determine that we won’t make the same mistakes. Twenty years later, we realize that, although we didn’t make the same mistakes, we made our own mistakes – some of those were made just in the process of avoiding our parent’s mistakes.
Parenting is hard (maybe impossible). Thankfully, most children are forgiving. Parenting does work; but it works because our children help us to make it work, not because we do it perfectly. Our children want good parenting and, if we listen to them, we can learn much from them about how to parent them.
The only reward we get from the years and work of parenting is a possible wonderful relationship with an adult child, their partner, and their children. Keep that in the forefront of your mind and try to not sacrifice this in your quest to raise your children. This is the only reward and it is a truly magnificent reward. It is worth everything you put into the years of parenting your child – but there really isn’t anything else.
That being said, there appear to be a few important teachings that will help you in your quest to raise healthy children.
Treat your children with the respect they deserve. Teach them that they have worth simply because they exist. Their worth is not something they have to earn. Competition can be fun but winning doesn’t establish worth any more than losing diminishes it. Have faith in the basic goodness of your children and communicate your awareness of this.Teach your children that problems and mistakes are an essential part of the human experience. Remember: you haven’t done this life so perfectly either and you have made it so far. Your children are allowed their mistakes and deserve help to keep these mistakes in perspective and to learn from them. There are very few mistakes your child can make that they can’t survive, learn from, and even thrive in the aftermath. Don’t panic.Teach your children the value of their feelings, thoughts, rights, and well-being. Teach them to respect the feelings, thoughts, rights, and well-being of others. Teach this primarily with your own example. Teach them to be honest about their thoughts and feelings. Provide a safe place for them to express their thoughts, beliefs, explorations, considerations, and feelings. Be very careful if you consider reprimanding or correcting any expression of thought or feeling. Make room for their thoughts, explorations, and beliefs and teach them how to handle their feelings. They don’t have to believe as you do to be successful adults and to maintain healthy relationships. In fact, you may find that you can learn from your children. Teach your children that, with all its risks and dangers, the world is a manageable place in which they can succeed and be happy. Teach them that they have the skills to succeed. Teach them that you have confidence in them and their abilities.Teach your children to value relationships. Teach them that when things get tough, there are people they can turn to for help. Teach them that it is okay to need help and wise to seek the help they need.Be responsible for yourself, your needs, your nurturing, and your happiness. Don’t expect your children to meet your needs for self-esteem by being children you can be proud of. Create your own self-esteem and allow your children to create their self-esteem. Teach your children that their lives are theirs to live; they shouldn’t be given the task of living life in a way that makes you proud.Provide them with a philosophical grounding in life. Teach them good moral principles. Teach them to care for and serve others. Provide opportunities for them to experience the joy of service. Teach them to find meaning and purpose in life. Remember: your child is the expert on your child. Listen to and learn from your child. They know their own dreams and desires better than you do and they recognize things that bring them true joy. You don’t need to define this for them; they can do it for themselves. Usually, the decisions they make for themselves are superior to the decisions you would make for them.
At Corner Canyon Counseling and Psychological Services all of our psychologists, counselors, and therapists are well-trained and willing to help you with your parenting needs. We serve both South Salt Lake County and Northern Utah County. Our patients come from Lehi, American Fork, Alpine, Highland, Pleasant Grove, Orem, Provo, Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Draper, Sandy, Herriman, South Jordan, West Jordan, Riverton, Midvale, Holladay, Daybreak, Magna, Tooele , and Salt Lake City.