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How to be the "Ultimate" Parent

We all know what a bad parent looks like: intolerant, constantly critical, more interested in their own affairs (in both senses of the word) than in the needs of their children. But what does it take to be a good parent? What does it take to give your children the very best start to life that you possibly can?

parenting, child behavior

We all know what a bad parent looks like: intolerant, constantly critical, more interested in their own affairs (in both senses of the word) than in the needs of their children. But what does it take to be a good parent? What does it take to give your children the very best start to life that you possibly can?

In the 1960's John Bowlby did a lot of work looking into the effects of parenting on children. In those days he coined the term "good-enough parenting". His thesis was that provided you avoided the sins of "bad" parenting, you were doing okay, and your children, with their own natural resilience, would also do okay. So is that all there is to it? Or are there things that you, as a parent, can do to be more than just a "good enough" parent. Can you, indeed, be a "super parent", even the "ultimate" parent? Or is that just a myth of the feminist movement?

Well, let's get one thing straight once and for all: No one is perfect. Try as you might, you will never be a "perfect" parent. You will never get it right every moment of every day for every year of your children's growing lives. Nor do you need to. In that sense, Bowlby's concept of "good enough" is very true. You do not need to be perfect. Your kids WILL survive. "Good enough" is good enough.

But, I suspect that you probably want more for your kids than just average. I strongly believe that there are things you can do, and attitudes you can adopt, that will give your children the very best start to life they could possibly have. And, at the same time, will actually make life easier and more fulfilling for yourself too. It is not a long list, but if you can manage the following, then I believe you have every right to call yourself the "ultimate" parent:

1) Recognise you are human. You cannot do everything, you cannot be everywhere, you cannot know everything. You will make mistakes. You also have your own issues, problems and hang-ups from your own past. That is all okay. The key to this game is not being perfect, but having the right attitude.

What is the right attitude? Being humble. Recognising that you have much to learn (we all do) and being willing to be teachable and to learn from your mistakes. A sign of genuine maturity is being able to look back at your past, recognise the mistakes you made, and say "this is what I have learnt about myself, and what I need to work on changing in myself".

But there is a flip side to this. Constantly putting yourself down with an "I'm no good" attitude is just as bad as the "I have nothing to learn" attitude. Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Celebrate your successes. Look back to the past only long enough to learn from it, then set your sights forward, and press on in the directions YOU want to go. If you have any serious issues from the past, be brave enough to seek help and get over them.

2) Recognise you are playing a percentage game. We have all heard of them: the kids from the most abusive, deprived backgrounds who somehow manage to make huge successes of themselves. And the kids from the very best of families (as demonstrated by their siblings) who somehow go off the rails into drugs and crime.

The reality is that you, the parent, are only one factor in your children's upbringing. They are also subject to influence from the friends, other relatives, teachers, shop keepers, TV, magazines and, of course, their own genetic makeup. You cannot control all the variables. You might be the very best, the ultimate parent, and yet your kids turn out as failures. You might be the very worst, alcoholic and abusive parent, and yet your kids do fine. Nothing in life is guaranteed.

So you play the percentages. You know that if you beat your kids, they are more likely to turn out bad than good. So, on average, beating your kids is probably not a good idea. Using fair and consistent discipline probably produces better odds for a successful outcome - so do that instead.

You success as a parent is NOT determined by how well your children turn out. It IS determined by whether you did all you reasonably could to do the right things and make the right decisions for them, WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU HAD AT THE TIME. Maybe those decisions turn out to be the wrong ones. So be it. That does not mean you failed as a parent. But, if you were too lazy to get the facts, if you just took the easiest decision without thinking about the impact on your children, then, I believe, you have failed - even if it turns out that the decision was the right one!

3) Recognise your children are not the only things in your life. In this day and age we seem to be obsessed with the idea that the interests of the children come first, before anything else. I strongly disagree with that concept. Yes, me must consider the best interests of the child, but there are other things to consider too.

It may be, for instance, that taking a new job in a different city might be the best thing for your family - even if it means taking your child away from his school and friends.

By putting children first in everything we run the danger of creating a selfish, "me first" generation where they grow up believing that the world owes them a living. Sometimes children have to take second place - and that in itself is an important lesson about life. Yes, before making any decision consider its impact on the children. But, in the end, make up your own mind as to what would be best for the family as a whole.

4) Look to the long term. Raising children is a long drawn- out process. Have your long-term goals in mind. How do you want them to turn out as adults? What qualities and skills do they need to learn? What experiences do they need, along the way, to learn those skills and character traits?

Many times as parents we are faced with the choice of taking an easy, short-term quick fix, or a harder approach that will bear much more fruit in the long term. The TV is such a classic example of this. How easy is it, when the kids are playing up, to just switch on the TV as the electronic babysitter? A quick fix for the immediate hassle or rowdy kids. But how much better, in the long run, to spend a bit of time teaching them how to build a model, or sew a soft toy, or put together a jigsaw?

5) Look for the positives. Like you, your children will make mistakes. Forgive them. Correct them gently and move on. Always be looking for what they did right, not what they did wrong. Children crave their parents' attention. Pay attention to what they do wrong, and they will do more of it. Pay attention to what they do right, and they will be eager to please you more.

6) Stick to your guns. Believe in yourself. If you are doing all the above, then you are well on the right track. There will be times when you make decisions and you get challenged on them, either by your children, or by others (such as interfering relatives). Unless there genuinely are new facts that you weren't aware of before, don't be swayed.

And don't be afraid to say no - to your children and your relatives - if that is the right thing to say.

Sure, your decision may turn out to be a bad one. That happens. Hindsight is 20-20. But far better to stick to your decision, than to be a plastic bag blowing about in the breeze. You children are watching you; watching how you deal with life, how you make decisions, how you cope with adversity, how you believe in yourself and stand up for yourself and your family. Be a good example for them.

 

How To Survive As A Working Parent

Basic Tips

1. Communicate with your babysitter, nannies or au pair, mother’s help to keep up-to–date.

Make as much time as possible to talk to your child care provider. If you can keep the lines of communication open beyond the rush, you'll have a much better feeling about your child's development and well being.

2. Don't get wound up by small issues.

If your child only wants to eat burgers every day, let him eat them. He will outgrow this phase. Providing the chi...

working mother, children, babysitter, au pair, nanny, cleaner, mother\\\\\\\'s help

Basic Tips

1. Communicate with your babysitter, nannies or au pair, mother’s help to keep up-to–date.

Make as much time as possible to talk to your child care provider. If you can keep the lines of communication open beyond the rush, you'll have a much better feeling about your child's development and well being.

2. Don't get wound up by small issues.

If your child only wants to eat burgers every day, let him eat them. He will outgrow this phase. Providing the child is not harming itself (getting over-weight etc.) or someone else by the behaviour just let it go.

3. Be flexible and open to new ideas and options

If you have an early morning meeting and it takes your child an hour to decide what to wear in the morning, consider letting them sleep in their clothes. They will think it's fun and you'll be at work on time.

4. Be honest and up front with your child about going to work and leaving them with the babysitter, nannies or au pair, mother’s help

Explain that you have to work, encourage the child to ask questions of the carer. Be enthusiastic about the carer as your attitude will shape your child's expectations and experiences. Remember research proves that children benefit from trusting relationships with more than one caregiver. The research has shown that babies with more than one attachment are less distressed when mother leaves for work, they are more playful and content in the presence of other adults, and are less distracted at the birth of a sibling.

5. Don't panic or feel guilty when your child cries when you leave Young children don't understand what "I'll be back later" means. As your child grows older, she will begin to understand that you'll return for her at the end of the day. With older children, reassure them that you'll return. Never sneak away. You're trying to build your child's trust, not break it down. Remember that childcare can be great for your child, as your child will benefit from personal attention, interactions with other children and age-appropriate educational programs that will be great preparation for school. Research shows that children who receive good quality childcare tend to be ahead of other children both intellectually and developmentally. Research also shows that children in childcare show the same degree of attachment to their mothers and the same amount of security as children with mothers who stay home. Remember if working makes you happy, you're children will be happier. Working mothers who like their jobs have better personal adjustments, are happier, and are less depressed than full-time mothers, even those who prefer being at home. Depressed mothers naturally have depressing effects on their children.

6. Accept help

When your relative or neighbour offers to baby-sit the children or pick them up from school or childcare, let them. They wouldn't offer if they didn't mean it.

7. Keep duplicates of "vital stuff"

Extra blankets, nappies, clothes, and dummies will come in handy in a panic.

8. Get organized

Plan ahead, menus for the week so you can cook extra so there are leftovers, pack the baby’s bag the night before. Generally working parents are organised. For example, working mothers spend the same amount of time in direct interaction with their children as full-time mothers. Employed mothers spend as much time reading to and playing with their children as those at home, although they do not spend as much time simply in the same room.

9. Abandon the idea of the perfect home

Perfectly clean house, nutritionally balanced meals, clean well-dressed children, and a fantastic career is an impossible standard that will cause you unnecessary strain. Give yourself a break and concentrate on what's important. Get in a cleaner, mother’s help to help you with the laundry, house-cleaning, and household work. It will be money well spent. Fast food and ready meals are not poisonous.

10. Occasionally pamper yourself with me time

Consider lighting some candles or josh sticks, put in some bath oil and grab your favourite magazine. As most kids hate the bathroom you should be undisturbed.

11. Plan time without the kids.

Eat some chocolates, read the newspaper or a book, go to a movie, visit a new restaurant, or go to a museum and relieve some stress. Escape.

12. Go on a course.

There are many courses to assist with everything from cookery, through home economics to child psychology

How To Choose Quality Child Care

1. Is the carer trained and/or experienced?

2. Have you spoken in person or got reports on at least one (preferably two) parents who've used the carer and said good things about her or him?

3. Does the carer respond to your child as an individual and communicate well with you? Are you and your child happy and appreciated?

4. Is she or he willing to help you continue your child's routine with things such as sleep, food or any special needs?

5. Is she willing to fit in with your ideas on discipline, toilet teaching, sweets and other issues?

6. Does she or he obviously like children and enjoy caring for them?

Copyright Amie Porter

 

How To Fail As A Parent

Anyone who has kids is immediately besought by many questions, and the weight of responsibility may lie heavily upon your shoulders. The fact is, there are many, many ways to fail when it comes to parenting, but the good news is that there are also many ways to succeed. The definition of failure as a parent will depend on many factors, including your culture, your hopes for your children, and the circumstances you find yourself in. In other words, one parent’s successes, such...

Anyone who has kids is immediately besought by many questions, and the weight of responsibility may lie heavily upon your shoulders. The fact is, there are many, many ways to fail when it comes to parenting, but the good news is that there are also many ways to succeed. The definition of failure as a parent will depend on many factors, including your culture, your hopes for your children, and the circumstances you find yourself in. In other words, one parent’s successes, such as Donald Trump having both his children incorporated into his business and television show, may seem to another parent to have been failures, the failure of a parent to spend enough time with and thinking about his offspring. Failing as a parent, therefore, will be dependent on your goals. There are still areas in which it is easy for us all to fail as parents, no matter what our goals for our children may be.

The first way many parents fail is by putting their children ahead of themselves, especially during their very early years. More and more research is showing that the most important time in a child’s life, in terms of development, are the preschool ages, including infancy. Your child needs you around at this stage, mothers and fathers both. It can seem impossible with the pressures and responsibilities of work to make the time necessary for the kids, but it is an important consideration nonetheless. This may be a time when you have to let some of those promotions pass for a time in order to serve the best interests of your family.

Another big mistake many parents make is either expecting too much or too little of their children, at any age, logically speaking. This applies to parents of teenagers as well as babies- the human brain is still developing right into the twenties, and even teenagers will not think of matters in the same logical way as adults. On the other hand, you do not want to underestimate your offspring’s powers of perception- as with many issues in parenting, there is a very fine line to walk, and you must base it on your knowledge of your child.

This brings us to the final area that will bring about failure when it comes to raising your children- by listening to everybody else. It seems that these days, everyone has an opinion as to how your children should be raised. There is a lot of conflicting advice, and lots that will just not work when it comes to your own children. Again, you know your children best and the final decision in matters will be up to you; base your decision on what has worked on the past. If this approach does not work, then it is time to try the alternatives suggested by someone else (and start with someone with a proven track record with their own children!) Again, this is a fine line- do not ignore your doctor’s advice when it comes to medical needs.




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