You’ve seen them and I have, too. Books with titles like, Successful Parenting 101 and Successful Parenting in Three Steps. I have even read a few of them. Some of them have had good ideas, some of them have been terrible, but darn few of them (exactly none so far) have defined what successful parenting actually is.
It makes it hard to achieve a goal when you don’t know exactly what the goal looks like, doesn’t it?
When people ask me what successful parenting is, I always tell them the same thing. “If you get your child to independent adulthood without anyone killing anyone else, you have nailed it.”
I am only half kidding. The truth is that successful parenting will look different on every child. If I raise my son and he becomes a doctor, have I been a successful parent? What if you find out that my doctor-son is a serial killer? Am I still a successful parent?
The thing with these expert books is that they don’t (and can’t) take in to account your child’s individuality, his environment, and his choices. The books can’t analyze how you interact with your child, the experiences that are specific to your situation, and the situation that you live in.
In a nutshell, there isn’t any one definition of successful parenting. Here’s the real kicker — successful parenting does not guarantee that you’ll have a successful child. They still have freedom of choice.
The definition of successful parenting is when you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you are doing the very best you can with what you have to work with. Perfection is not obtainable no matter who you are.
Keeping in mind that the definition of successful parenting is always subjective, here are a few mile-markers to help you orient yourself as you forge ahead.
You cannot spoil a child by loving him. All children need to know that they are loved in order for them to reach their full potential. Don’t just assume they know it — let them hear those magic words as often as possible. When you are leaving the house, when you are going to bed, when you are having a soda together, or when you are really mad at each other are all great times to say, I love you.
How will you ever get to know your child if you never listen to him? Too many parents listen with half an ear, formulating their next statement as their child is speaking. Don’t fall into that trap! It’s the very best way to ensure that you are never a successful parent.
Here’s how to listen to your child:
Obviously if your child is talking about the color of her best friend’s new hair, you can simplify the steps to just listen and nod.
You should always choose to believe the best about your child but be honest, too. Kids make bad choices sometimes. Stick up for him if he is right but if he has done something wrong he should have to face the consequences without your interference or softening it up for him.
You aren’t perfect. It’s OK.
Those are my top four rules for successful parenting. If you are doing those things, you are successful. Congratulations. If you’re aren’t, then start right now.
What about you? What does successful parenting look like in your opinion?
The natural thing to do when you get pregnant is to read everything you can get your hands on about how to have a healthy baby. You should stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and BPA. You should not use a hot tub, or strongly scented perfumes (they have chemicals that might be bad for baby), and you shouldn’t eat too much fish — especially tuna.
By the time you have gone through the laundry list of everything you should and should not do, you may be near hysteria and wishing that you’d never gotten pregnant at all. What were you thinking?
Forget it. Humans have birthed babies for numerous centuries and will continue to do so despite Monsanto, Margaritas, and gel nail manicures.
Having a healthy baby is important and you do have a responsibility to try to stay away from things that might have a negative effect on your baby’s health. You know, like crack or huffing insecticide, or something. You can’t protect your baby from everything that could possibly cause problems.
Guess what? Just because you manage to stay away from all of those things won’t guarantee that your baby doesn’t have some sort of health issue.
One of my kids has unilateral microtia, which is a fancy term for only having one ear. His other ear never developed and is really only a skin tag. I spent years kicking myself, trying to figure out what I could have done, and feeling guilty.
One day I decided to stop. You can’t control everything in life. Not everything can be safe for everyone. There is a risk to getting out of bed in the morning.
Pregnancy is a short season in your life. Rather than worrying about everything that could happen, concentrate on the magic that is happening. Believe it or not, you’ll miss this season when it’s gone.
I was watching a television show the other night, Trophy Wife. We are still at the point in the season where we are DVR-ing many shows and trying to decide which ones to cull.
No, we really don’t have a life.
I haven’t decided about this particular show. In some ways it is funny and in others it is irritating. If you haven’t seen it, the show is about a man and his third wife. She is quite young and he is classically in his mid to late 40s with three kids by two previous marriages.
The generation gap between the new wife and the man and his ex-wives is predictable. The interactions with a teenage daughter, an adolescent son, and an elementary school aged son are also predictable. The humor leans more toward what I think the 20 somethings would enjoy and I am a few years beyond that.
Anyway, the particular episode that I was watching had to do with the teenage girl liking some boy and sneaking out to a party to be with him. The phrase “hooking up” was tossed around and the father was concerned she was having sex so he and his ex-wife tore through the girl’s room, opening up the mattress with a knife, reading journal entries, and hacking into her Facebook account.
The entire time this was going on, the new wife was warning them that what they were doing was wrong and a gross invasion of the daughter’s privacy. At one point, the mother said something like, “Why do you think I got her a journal?”
I have lived through two teenage girls and five teen boys. I find that girls tend to be more secretive than boys. My boys have always just told me what they were going to do, gone ahead and done it, and accepted the consequences. The girls tend to do things in such a way that either I don’t find out until later or I don’t find out at all.
I don’t fully agree with either one of the women in the show. I think that snooping is an invasion of your child’s privacy and a breaking of trust, but I also think that in some cases it is necessary for the protection of your child. It would be pointless at the moment in my daughters’ room — it’s such a mess that Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be able to find a clue.
If I was concerned that my daughter was experimenting with drugs, I would probably do some light snooping. If I was still concerned for whatever reason I would have her come into the room while I went through it.
I don’t like the idea of snooping secretly. To me it does break an important trust and cross a line when done behind her back. The only reason I can think of for going through a child’s room without them knowing it is to avoid the anger and confrontation that might occur — and that feels deceptive to me. I’d rather discuss the issue and, if I was still concerned enough to go through her things, explain why I felt that I needed to.
How about you, is it right or wrong to snoop through your child’s room?
There has been a lot of talk about conservatives and liberals and a lot of hard feelings, misunderstandings, and general headaches from too much politics. Relax, this isn’t about politics per se. I was reading an article on the Houston Press blog and the author was discussing parenting and the differences in each. I pretty much agreed with everything that was said and I began to think about one thing in particular.
The gap in the success of the poor child vs the wealthy child.
The article goes on to say —
Many liberals instinctively believe that reducing financial poverty is the only worthy social policy goal–and the principal route to reducing other social problems. Poverty reduction is, in and of itself, a vitally important ambition. But raising the abilities of parents is not just about raising their incomes…
Children in families on welfare heard about 600 words per hour, working-class children heard 1,200 words, while children from professional families heard 2,100 words. By the age of three, Hart and Risley estimated, a poor child would have heard 30 million fewer words at home than one from a professional family.
I thought about the families in my area. I live in a relatively poor town on the outskirts of Dallas. The schools are terrible, there is a lot of violence, and I have heard how the average parent here talks to their child. I’ve heard them in Walmart, Kroger, the movie theater, and just about anywhere else I have been.
The child hears one word and its variations a lot, usually at 140 decibels. The F-bomb is used profusely to describe great things and to describe horrible things. It is the equivalent of a nervous speaker’s “uh” after each sentence.
These kids do not have conversations with their parents, they do not get the quality attention that other kids get. Their brains don’t develop to their full potential and their lifelong success is hampered.
You might want to blame it on poverty, but the truth is that lots of poor people have children that become successful. Ben Carson was raised in a very poor area by a single mom. He should not be a success story but his mom spent quality time, making him read, talking to him, and encouraging him, and look at him now.
Yes, a wealthy kid has more access to better schools, museums, and a host of other quality activities, but if his parents don’t take the time to give him the conversation and affirmation that he needs, his chances of success aren’t much better than the poor kid’s. It’s just that his parents will be able to afford to support him indefinitely.
I grew up in a relatively comfortable, upper middle class lifestyle. My older children grew up in a household that was under the poverty level. My younger kids are growing up in something in between.
I was given quality attention and affirmation. I had long talks with my parents, both together and one on one, and my parents read to me. I followed their lead with my own kids, whether we were poor or more comfortable. My adult kids are very successful at what they do and my younger kids are on their way to their own successes.
Reading a chapter of a good book together before bed doesn’t cost a thing. Affirmation is free, too. Sitting in the car drinking milkshakes and talking costs very little. All together, it will likely do more to ensure your child’s success in life than the best education at the best private school, and all it takes is a little time.
First of all, I am totally against bullying, weapons at school, drugs, boozing when you are underage, sexual harassment, and all of those other icky things that happen when society does a swan dive into moral decay.
I don’t like zero tolerance policies. I do not like them here or there; I do not like them anywhere.
Zero tolerance policies generally disempower the victim while trying to control the abuser. Zero tolerance policies, once instated, seem to suck the brain cells out of school administrators so that they make stupid decisions because, after all, We have a zero tolerance policy.
So here’s what happens.
Let’s say a boy pushes a girl up against a locker and feels her up between classes. The girl can wiggle, push, cry, and scream but she can’t kick him in the testicles hard enough to give him chipmunk cheeks because the school has a zero tolerance policy against violence. So, the boy *might* get suspended or even kicked out of school, but it doesn’t stop the victimization at the time and it doesn’t discourage him from doing the same thing again.
While it looks like the school is dealing with the problem, they are actually masking the problem and keeping the victim from defending herself.
Let me ask you — if you were in a crowded place and a man pushed you up against the wall and began squeezing your boobs, what would you do? Would you wait for him to leave or hope someone pulled him off, or would you slam you knee into his crotch with the power of the space shuttle taking off?
I thought so.
Let me pause here and just tell you that I have given my children carte blanche to knock the crap out of anyone who either throws the first punch or acts inappropriately.
Three of my kids are brown belts and I have also given them permission, my permission because I am the parent, to stick up for anyone who is being abused, bullied or harassed. If they get kicked out of school then so be it. I will deal with the powers that be at that time. I refuse to disarm my kids when they are walking into a potential battlefield.
It’s not just physical. Surely by now you have heard of the honor student who was kicked out of school for picking a drunk friend up from a party. She was helping a friend but since she had to physically go to the party to pick the friend up, she crossed that zero tolerance policy line.
What she did was honorable and heroic but the zero tolerance policy brain eating microbes attacked the administrators and they cited the fact that even though she wasn’t drinking, even though she wasn’t at the party, she violated policy.
In Cincinnati a six year old girl brought her mother’s nail clippers to school and the principal wanted to expel her for violating their zero tolerance policy on weapons.
What about a teen girl facing expulsion for having Midol? Drugs you know.
Schools say they have to do it or lose federal funding. Can’t they take behavior issues on a case by case basis and make intelligent decisions on each one?
How do you feel about zero tolerance policies?
Discipline is one of those things that can be argued by the closest of friends. While I don’t advocate spanking as the first choice, I have to say that I think yelling is far more damaging in the long run.
On the rare occasions (and I do mean rare… I think there has been one or two spankings in four years) that the kids get their three swats, it is done in a controlled manner, exactly three, and without anger. Yelling, on the other hand, happens when I am out of control and I can say hurtful things without meaning to.
Things that can’t be unsaid. Things that hurt the heart rather than the butt.
This isn’t an article on pro-spanking, however. It is an article on how to stop yelling a your kids.
If You Want to Get Somebody’s Attention…
There used to be a commercial where a woman whispered to the camera, “If you want to get somebody’s attention, just whisper”. When you feel like you are going to lose it, say what you want to say in a whisper. Still, you want to make sure that you don’t use unkind words no matter what volume you are talking at.
Stick to the Rules
I am a firm believer in having a couple of rules and sticking to them. If a child breaks the rule then there are consequences for that action. It isn’t my fault and the consequences aren’t dependent on my mood. It’s simple math — if you do x then y will happen, period.
Having a set of rules and consequences for breaking them means that I don’t let myself get to the point where I am out of control. My thought is that a policeman doesn’t yell at you when you get a ticket, right? You broke a rule and he hands out the consequences. Maintain that same philosophy with your kids and you will have fewer moments when you are tempted to yell.
Find a Solution or Let It Go
If you find that one of your kids is consistently doing something that puts you over the top, you have a choice. You can find a solution or you can let it go.
If your child consistently forgets to take the dog out and your house is starting to smell like a kennel, you can be proactive and remind him every couple of hours, accepting that, for whatever reason, he is not mature enough to remember on his own. The alternative is letting it go and buying lots of your favorite scented candles. It is not worth scarring your kiddo.
Leave the Area
When you feel it coming on, just leave. Go take a bath, go for a walk, or lock yourself in your bedroom and cry. Do whatever it takes to calm down enough to handle the problem in a controlled manner. One of the things I like to do, and works the best for me, is to pop bubble wrap!
The I Love You Trick
If you are going to yell, you know you are going to yell, and there is no way to stop it you can soften it the way that Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmother softened the evil curse. Maybe you can’t stop it, but you can control the words by saying, “I love you.”
Scream it at the top of you lungs as many times as you need to. Everyone will think you have lost your mind but you won’t be spewing damaging labels and hurtful sentences.
What do you do when you feel like yelling at your kids?
A mother spanked her twelve year old daughter with a wooden spoon hard enough that there were bruises and the judge ruled that it was not abuse. Good call or bad call?
It’s tempting to say it’s a bad call without even reading the rest of the story. In actuality, it may be a good call.
It seems that the mom was frustrated because other disciplines had not worked. She had grounded her daughter and taken away cell phone privileges prior to the spanking, but those things did nothing to dissuade her daughter from blowing off her schoolwork and getting involved with gang activity.
So she turned her over her knee and walloped her with a wooden spoon.
“Nothing in the record suggests the mother should have known she was inflicting bruises,” Justice Conrad Rushing wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. Rushing continued that “the spanking was entirely the product of a genuine and deliberate disciplinary purpose, i.e., to arrest troubling behavior patterns exhibited by the daughter.”
I have to admit that I was surprised and honestly, not in a bad way. I don’t think spanking should be the first choice of discipline in most cases, but if you have ever had a headstrong adolescent bound and determined to ruin her life, you’ll sympathize with the parents in this case.
There are times that a 12 year old is going to do what they are going to do despite everything you say or do. I have had my (very well behaved as a general rule) children inform me that there was nothing I could do to stop them from doing something as they willingly handed over their phones!
What do you think? Would you have handled it differently?
Source: Daily News
I just happened to catch a headline that asked, Are You Parenting or Peer-enting Your Children? The article was just a few paragraphs to introduce a book but the headline? That stayed with me. It’s a good question, one that I have asked before in different words.
I like the word peer-enting, I like it a lot. It describes how all of us handle our kids at one time or another, and not in a positive way.
I will be the first to admit that Facebook, Twitter, and other social media has caused me to become less open about things I feel strongly about because I know so many people who don’t think or believe the way that I do. It’s just easier not to deal with the fallout.
It doesn’t stop there, though. I know that when my older kids were small, there were rules that got made in our house that had nothing to do with what we believed and everything to do with what the other parents we knew were doing with their families. Peer-enting at its finest.
I am not sure why I felt pressured to do certain things. Some of it was the fact that I was in a very conservative church and, since I had not grown up in church, felt I was less knowledgeable and at a disadvantage when compared to the parents who had been in church and known “the rules” all their lives.
I got affirmation for going along with the crowd — doing the very thing I taught my kids not to do.
Did the rules hurt my children in any way? No, I don’t think they did. I do think that they missed out on some experiences I wish that they could have had because I was so intent on being a good mom. Since I didn’t have a good role model for that, I looked to my peers rather than to my heart.
How about you? Do you parent or peer-ent?
When you head to the store five days past your due date with five or six kids in tow, the very last thing you want to deal with is a temper tantrum, behavior problems, or anything that might make you look like you can’t handle your kids.
You don’t know disdain until your 2 year old has a meltdown and you can’t see past your belly to figure out where her backside is, AND your other kids are rolling their eyes. I seriously had a person tell me The contraceptive aisle is over there. My youngest kid wasn’t even melting down.
When my kids were small, I had a pretty foolproof way of making sure that I got in and out of the store without incident. I came prepared.
Imagine a military outfit right before a big coupe. Weapons are checked, maps are studied, and the troops are briefed on what the plan is, what they can expect, and what is expected of them.
Before the trip I made sure there were a couple of crayons and a small notebook in my bag. Hand sanitizer, extra diapers, toilet paper/kleenex, a couple of board books, and finger foods finished off the list. I made sure everyone that needed to have a nap did have one. I strategically planned the foray into public to coincide with the normal schedule — no shopping during naptime or when hungry.
Finally, when we got to the store and I parked we lingered a moment in the car, “How do we act in a store?”
“What can we touch?”
“What happens if I have to correct you?”
“We won’t like it!”
When we got into the store, six pairs of hands went into six pairs of front pockets and stayed the for the duration. No one wandered off, no one had a tantrum, and no one broke anything. Just remember, a little preparation goes a very long way.