There’s No Such Thing as a Perfect Parent
Parenting is challenging and frustrating. It’s hard to know if you’re doing the right things and making wise choices that will benefit your children. It can sometimes feel like there’s no good answer for many of the parenting situations you find yourself in.
In parenting, as in the rest of life, perfection isn’t a possibility. Do your best and shoot for excellence, instead!
Use these tips to accept your flaws and be the best parent you can be:
1. No one teaches you how to be a great parent. You learn a lot of things in school, but parenting skills aren’t commonly covered. You can read a book, observe others, or make it up as you go along.
- Being a great parent isn’t easy. This is easy to prove to yourself by looking at all the poor examples of parents you’ve known.
2. Learn from your own parents. Whether your parents were spectacular, mediocre, or terrible, there is something that you can learn from them.
- Think about what your parents did well.
- Consider the ways in which your parents failed.
- There is a lot of good information you can use from your childhood. Discuss this with your siblings if they’re willing.
3. Ask for feedback from your children. Tell your kids that you want to be a better parent and ask for advice. Ask them what you could do better. A lot of the information you’re given won’t be helpful, but there will be a few gold nuggets of advice in there. You might hear a few things you’ve never considered.
4. Ignore the non-experts. Everyone you meet will have an opinion about how to better parent children. Plenty of those people will give you advice without you asking for it. Everyone likes to be an armchair quarterback. Consider their feedback but make your own decision about whether to implement their ideas.
5. Cover the basics. These may be basic, but that doesn’t mean that they’re easy! Do your best to ensure that your kids see these concepts in action.
- Children and everyone else need to have high self-esteem. Life is miserable and limiting without it.
- School matters. Help your child to do as well as they can in school. Good students have more opportunities.
- Be a good role model. Your children are always watching you.
- Money matters. Love is great, but it won’t pay the rent, buy shoes, or pay for the doctor. Spend your working day trying to maximize your income.
- Keep them safe.
- Teach them the important things. Teach them the importance of saving money, how to make friends, how to deal with negative emotions, be honest, and other things that speak to your values.
- Spend time with them each day. We spend time on the things that matter. When you ignore your children, they know they don’t matter.
- Love unconditionally. Show your children that you love them even when they make mistakes.
6. You can do everything right and still have challenges. Children aren’t plants. You can’t be guaranteed of success just by adding some water and fertilizer. Each child is different. You could be as perfect as humanly possible and still have a child that struggles.
7. Read. Parenting is one of the most researched areas of study in the world. There are a lot of great books that all parents can read and use.
No parent can be perfect. You’re doomed to feel like a failure if perfection is your goal. Fortunately, kids are quite resilient and don’t require perfect parenting. Keep doing your best and trying to improve. Be the best parent you can be and your children will eventually thank you for it.
The Stepfamily Guide for Adjusting to Change
Stepfamilies face many unique challenges, but usually succeed at adapting to their new roles. It takes patience and open communication.
Parents may need to sort out feelings about their previous partners and overcome the kind of stereotypes reinforced by Snow White movies. Children have to deal with a wide variety of losses caused by forces beyond their control.
Having a stepfamily is rarely something you plan for, but you can make it work. Try these tips for creating a happy and harmonious blended family.
Tips for Adapting as a Couple:
1. Prioritize your relationship. Your connection with each other provides the foundation for your stepfamily. Strengthening your relationship increases your chances for developing a stable and satisfying family life. Appreciate each other and schedule regular date nights.
2. Work as a team. Create a united front and share responsibilities. Make major decisions together.
3. Think positive. Children usually benefit from maintaining a close relationship with both of their biological parents. Make it easy for them to interact. Resist the urge to say anything negative about your ex-spouse.
4. Seek support. You are not alone. More than 40% of American adults have at least one step relative, according to the Pew Research Center. Connect with other stepparents you know or find a support group in your neighborhood or online.
5. Learn more. It may also help to educate yourself about issues that stepfamilies often experience. Visit your local library or browse through resources provided by organizations such as the National Stepfamily Resource Center.
6. Try counseling. If you need additional help, talk with a therapist who specializes in family relationships and blended families. Ask family and friends for referrals or call the psychology department at your local university for recommendations.
Tips for Adapting as a Family:
1. Take your time. As much as you love your partner, you’ll probably need to be patient when it comes to bonding with their children. You can still have a bright future together even if your first years are rocky. That’s especially true if your children are older or you only see them part time.
2. Acknowledge losses. Give your stepchildren room to grieve. They’ve lost their family and familiar routines. They may be coping with the aftermath of death or divorce, and they may be spending less time with their biological parents.
3. Reach out. You can encourage healing by showing an interest. Listen to your stepchild when they try to talk with you. Ask open-ended questions if they seem willing to share more information.
4. Spend time together. Block out time in your schedule for family activities and one-on-one sessions with each child in your new blended family. Have fun together and let them teach you about their hobbies.
5. Clarify rules. Are your children dividing their time between two homes with different rules? Consistency is helpful, but other arrangements can succeed if you avoid making judgments. It’s usually more effective to let the biological parent take the lead with discipline, especially when you’re just starting out.
6. Set boundaries. Affection may take time, but each family member is entitled to respect and civility. It may also help to provide personal space, so your stepchild has their own bedroom or designated areas where they can store their things and feel at home.
7. Mediate differences. Sibling rivalry is natural in any family. As much as possible, try to coach your children through settling their conflicts. Provide a positive role model.
8. Understand legal issues. Be prepared for medical emergencies and similar situations. Knowing your legal rights and responsibilities may help you to keep your blended family safe and well.
Your new family will be different from your old one, but it can still be happy and rewarding. Build healthy and supportive relationships that will help your stepfamily to thrive.
How to Help Your Child Deal With Anxiety
The world can be a scary place, and many children have good reason to worry. However, many children worry much more than is reasonable for the situation.
Anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. A person should be worried if they’re in a dangerous situation, for example. Anxiety is protective, but too much or inappropriate anxiety isn’t healthy.
Use these strategies to help your child overcome their anxiety:
1. Be supportive and patient. It can be frustrating when your child is constantly worried about things that seem meaningless or silly. However, the anxiety they feel is just as real to them as your anxieties are to you. You don’t get to choose the emotions or fears of other people.
- Let your child know that you’re sensitive to their feelings and are always there to support them.
2. Avoid giving too much warning about a stressful event. If you know your child stresses out about going to the dentist, it’s best not to announce a dentist appointment three weeks in advance. The morning of the appointment is just fine. For some children, it might be even better to say, “Put on your shoes, we have to go to the dentist.”
- Too much notice can provide too much time to worry. Figure out how much time your child needs to keep their anxiety at a minimum. Some children appreciate a little time to process what’s going to happen.
3. Talk it out. Ask your child what they’re worried about and why. Talk about why this fear is or isn’t valid. In other words, look for evidence to prove or disprove the reason for the fear.
- If the fear is valid, develop a plan together to handle the issue.
- If the fear isn’t valid, help your child to trust the evidence they found that negates the reason for the anxiety.
4. Help your child to keep their attention on the present. We can only worry when we project our attention into the future and imagine negative outcomes. This is largely a habit.
- Teach your child to focus on the present moment and their surroundings. Show your child that it’s more effective to focus on what is, rather than what might be.
5. Take a look at your home life. Is your home life stressful for your child? Do you and your child’s other parent get along well, or is there a lot of arguing? Are there financial pressures in the household that the child is aware of?
- Children might give the impression that they’re not listening, but they are surprisingly adept at figuring out what’s going on.
6. Avoid avoidance. You might think you’re being nice if you help your child to avoid everything that causes them to feel anxious, but you’re actually contributing to the issue.
- Each time your child is allowed to avoid the situation due to anxiety, there’s a part of her brain that says, “Hmmmm. If I make her feel anxious, we can get out of doing these things.”
- The brain quickly learns what works. The next time, the anxiety will be even stronger. The brain will continue turning up the volume until it gets what it wants.
- Avoiding a stressor brings relief, which is very rewarding. The urge to avoid only becomes stronger as it’s reinforced.
- Be supportive but avoid letting them off the hook.
7. Get professional help. It’s very challenging for a parent to effectively help a child with moderate to severe anxiety issues. It’s likely that professional help will be useful. Find a therapist or psychologist that specializes in children of your child’s age.
Many children suffer from worry. They’re under a lot of social scrutiny at school, and kids can be cruel. They have little control over their lives. Most aspects of their lives are controlled by parents or teachers.
If your child is anxious, it can be heartbreaking to see them worry all of the time. It can also be frustrating when their worries seem pointless to you. Be supportive and patient and get professional help if your efforts prove to be insufficient.
A Parent’s Guide to Patience
Children can be annoying. They like to play games that adults don’t enjoy. When is the last time you wanted to play with dolls, climb a tree, or ride your bike up and down the cul-de-sac? They’re loud. They complain. They know how to push your buttons.
Children can be a great source of frustration. They’re also a great source of joy.
You can embrace the joy and show your unconditional love with patience. After all, they depend on you to teach them how to best get along in this world. Why not exemplify patience and give them a gift they’ll never outgrow?
Be a more patient parent with these strategies:
1. Understand your trigger points. When are you most likely to be unreasonably impatient? Is it at bedtime? After a hard day at work?
- Make a list of your trigger points and keep it handy.
- Is there anything you can do to change the situation? Maybe you could listen to relaxing music on the ride home after a long day. Could you alter your children’s bedtime routine?
2. Where does the challenge lie? You’ve seen wonderful children with impatient parents and misbehaving children with incredibly patient parents. Neither situation is ideal. How well do your children behave? It’s not easy to assess our own kids accurately.
- Ask the most reasonable person you know whether they consider you to be a patient or impatient person. Then ask them how well they think your children behave. Ask them to be completely honest.
- Put your attention where it will be most productive. You’re not doing yourself, your children, or the rest of society any favors if you tolerate poor behavior from your children.
3. Visualize yourself being patient in challenging situations. Use your list of situations that try your patience the most and imagine yourself dealing with those situations calmly and effectively. When you’re faced with the real situation, you’ll have a better chance of dealing with it appropriately.
4. Be patient with yourself. Everyone is impatient at times. We aren’t static. This is good news, because it means we can change. Accept that you’re only human and that you’ll have the occasional bad day.
5. Pause before you act or speak. The greatest damage occurs when you fail to take a moment before making a decision. You can save yourself a lot of grief if you’ll take a minute to pause when you’re upset. Take 10 deep breaths, regain your composure, and then make your decision.
6. Give yourself a timeout. If you’re unable to find a peaceful mental place, take 15 minutes. When you’re upset, you lose the ability to make intelligent decisions. If no one is bleeding or on fire, they’ll survive for 15 minutes while you collect yourself.
7. Consider the perspective of your child. Children have little power or control over their lives. You’re holding all the cards. When you act in a way that’s frightening or unreasonable, your child can’t trust you. What could be more frightening? You could be causing more damage than you realize.
- On the other hand, children are also quite resilient and forgiving. You don’t have to be perfect, but it’s important to be reasonable. Your children deserve it.
If you’re impatient with your children, you’re not alone. Children can be a challenge to your ability to remain calm, cool, and collected. However, you can change. You can become a more patient parent. Enhance your ability to deal with frustration and prevent frustration from occurring with these tips you can use every day.