Parental Development

I believe being a good parent is one of the more challenging aspects of personal development one can face. Most of us are thrust into this role without any special training or knowledge on how to be a good parent. Certainly it’s not something we typically learn in school, no matter what degrees and certifications we have. Perhaps a few of you have careers which help you, such as being a teacher, but for the vast majority we are left on our own to figure out how to be a good parent.

I would hope most don’t have the egotistical viewpoint that they are born a good parent, that they instinctively know the best way to handle every situation. This may be true to a certain extent, but parenting is about “personal development”, and learning as you go. Learning can and should come from many sources. Certainly your personal experience with your own parents is a huge factor, you may like or dislike the type of parents they were, and adjust accordingly. However, in judging your parents, you should consider the outcome… did you turn out well? Sometimes a parent has to take actions the child doesn’t like, but is in their best interest.

There are many books out there on parenting we can learn from, I read from many during my first years of being a parent. Certainly some of it seemed like common sense, but I also picked up a few ideas and viewpoints I hadn’t considered. We can also learn by observing other parents, and see if they do things which seem to work well. There are so many different aspects of parenting ranging from their education, relationships, manners, work ethics, handling of money, and a parent should try to cover all the bases, ensuring they are teaching their child.

A good parent should not focus only on their child’s development, but themselves also, which can be difficult to do as most of us have big egos. We have to remind ourselves that we are not perfect, and look constantly to find ways we could be a better parent. Are you spending enough time with your child? Are you teaching them the things they don’t learn in school, such as how to be a good friend, and other self improvement skills?

What traits are you cultivating in yourself to be a good parent? Patience? Understanding? Consistency? Love? Encouragement?

The final note I’d like to make is the importance of building self-esteem. I believe this is perhaps the single most important trait to instill in your child. If they believe in themselves, if they believe they can accomplish anything, this will take them through any life challenge they will face. You will not always be there alongside them to coach them on every little life decision, however if they have self-esteem they will find success and happiness in their life. Build self-esteem with positive reinforcement, always tell them how smart, good looking, and athletic they are, you can never say it enough. Avoid negative statements which may be said in anger, such as “what’s wrong with you”, or “you’ll never learn”, or “you’re bad at math”, etc. Instead of saying “you’re bad at math”, say “you’re so smart, if you just spend more time studying math then you could get A’s”. Give plenty of sincere praise, being specific about what you liked. And of course, everything should revolve around teaching integrity and honesty.

If you’re a parent or will become one, what are your thoughts on this subject? Has it been a challenge in your life to be a good parent, and do you have any tips to share with others? Please share your thoughts in the comments area.