By: Mia L. Hazlett
First of all, accept there is no perfect parent. I believe there are good parents. I believe there are bad parents. But perfect, those who believe they are, are the worst. I do believe there are parents out there that are doing their best. I believe I am one of those parents. Here’s the recipe that works for me (know I am constantly changing this recipe some ingredients in – some are no longer required, but this works right now):
2 Cups of Parents Only – Look at it this way, would you take your malfunctioning car to your doctor or your mechanic? I continue to meet parents requesting parenting advice from people who don’t have kids. Even if you are going to read a book by a parenting “expert,” read that “expert’s” resume. Do they have kids? Or are they a book smart degreed individual, that has done “studies” and can quote statistics, rather than being someone who has put in the actual grunt work and popped out and raised a kid. So don’t fall for advice from someone just because they are a friend, relative, or because their name is Dr. Blah Blah.
3 Cups of Good Parent Advice – Look at it this way, would you seek fashion advice from someone whose style you dislike? I love my god-daughter. For years, many people thought she was mine, because of all the pictures that covered my walls at home and desk at work. My friend did a wonderful job raising her. So I deemed my friend a good parent, not because she was my friend, but because I liked the person my god-daughter was becoming. She is the parent I turned to with parenting questions.
1 and 1/2 Cups of Discipline – Look at it this way, would you let your child grow up without ever doing their hair? No. From the time they are born you tame, groom, and control their hair until they are old enough to do it themselves. Because you know without combing, brushing, trimming, and washing it, it would be out of control and grow absolutely wild. Your child’s behavior requires the same amount of attention, or they will suffer the same consequences as the hair.
1 Bottle of Patience – Look at it this way, whatever your age may be as you read this, it took you this long to know what you know. You didn’t learn everything overnight. Sometimes you have to put yourself in their shoes. Before you react, try to deduct the situation with their thought process. For instance, the other day my five year-old daughter was listening to a song that had the word damn in it. She immediately announced to me, “”Oh Mommy, she said damn. That’s a bad word.” “Yes it is. You should never say that,” I responded. “Right, don’t say it. You shouldn’t say shit, fuck, or hell either,” she got the last words in. I was speechless, but in the context of our conversation, she was correct. “You’re right again baby. Let’s not say any of them again.” She went about dancing around the room to a different song.
1 Dose of Rules and Consequences – Look at it this way, if you started a new job and they gave you no start time, no end time, and no consequences for making up your own hours, but the same pay for a forty-hour week? C’mon there may be some, but I believe few, who would practice an honor code of self-discipline and work 40 hours every week. Kids are the same way. They need to know what you expect of them and what the consequences are if they intentionally disobey you. And your job has a handbook that is clear and really doesn’t change and applies to everyone. Don’t constantly change the rules or have one consequence for one kid and a different for the other.
1 Entire Package of Honesty – Look at it this way, you find out one of your closest friends has told a lie to you. If the friendship were to continue, could you ever forget that lie? I’ve stated throughout this entire blog kids are smart. If you lie to them and they discover the truth, that lie will one day surface. I’ve summed up my view on this in Difficult Conversations.
1/2 a Bag of Talk to Your Kid – Look at it this way, has someone ever given you the “nothing” when you’ve asked them what’s wrong? It drives me crazy. If I want to know what is going on with my kids, I talk to them. Sometimes they tell me, sometimes they don’t, but I have to make the effort. Luckily it’s proven successful and I’m now able to have pretty open conversations with my daughters.
Now take all the above ingredients and mix them in a giant bowl of unconditional love with an extra helping of screw up. Your kids are going to put you over the edge sometimes and constantly have you questioning if you are doing the whole parenting thing right. Know you are going to screw some things up at times because perfection exists in no one. And all kids are different, so you may have to alter this recipe to fit your own liking. But as long as you’re doing your best, that’s all that’s required.