If you’re wondering how you can improve your parenting skills and you’re reading this piece, then you’re already off to a good start—it means you’re open to learning how to be a better parent.
What really makes a good parent? There’s no simple answer to that. What’s certain is that parenting is a never-ending learning process. Here, I’ll discuss what it takes to become the best parent you can ever be to your children.
What is Child Rearing?
Parenting doesn’t just start and end with bringing a child into the world.The essence of being a parent is child-rearing, the process by which you unconditionally support and guide all aspects of your children’s development—physical, intellectual, emotional, and social—so that they’ll grow into responsible adults. The moment you give birth or take home your newborn, you’re in charge of instilling values in them and building their character until they’re ready to live independently as adults.
As a parent, you’re also responsible for your children’s safety. The world isn’t exactly a safe place to live in, especially in this digital age when kids as young as four years old have access to the internet and are thus exposed to the dangers of cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, identity theft, and other risks.
Because children are too young to protect themselves, you must have measures in place at home, in school, or wherever they are to keep them out of harm’s way. If your child often uses the internet, you can visit an online reputation management site to find out how to protect your kid’s privacy and identity.
What is Your Parenting Style?
What are the best child-rearing practices? Is there a tried-and-tested formula for good parenting? There’s no single one-size-fits-all rule for people who want to become a better parent. For starters, a good place to start is your past—look back on how you were raised by your own parents (or guardians), whether they’ve been good or bad ones. If you want your child to be a better version of yourself, try to recall the life lessons you learned from your parents.
After you’ve taken stock of your experience being raised by your parents, the next step in learning how to become better at parenting is self-awareness. Get to know what kind of parent you are, including your strengths and areas for improvement. What is your predominant child-rearing style? Here are the four styles of parenting and the effects they have on children:
Authoritarian parents believe that raising children to become successful adults entails monitoring and controlling their behaviors all the time. They make a strict set of rules and expect their children to observe them by the book no matter what. Children who disobey are punished to discourage them from making the same mistakes.
Because they emphasize discipline and high standards of conduct, authoritarian parents tend to raise morally upright individuals with successful careers. However, this parenting style is more destructive than helpful. Kids who grow in an authoritarian household may develop low self-esteem and low self-worth, exhibit violence, and show anger and hatred toward their parents’ punishments.
Authoritative parents, like authoritarian parents, lay down specific rules for their kids to follow. However, unlike their authoritarian counterparts, authoritative parents listen to their children and allow them to reason out. In addition, they explain to their children the reason behind every rule and seek their thoughts to establish limitations and boundaries.
These parents also prefer consequences instead of punishments, often resulting in positive reinforcements. To encourage their children to keep doing a great job, they give praises or rewards.
Children of authoritative parents tend to have a happier disposition, a positive attitude, good social skills, self-confidence, and an ability to think and act independently.
Permissive or indulgent parents are the lenient ones. They don’t usually punish their children unless a serious problem arises. These parents play the best friend role more often and try as much as possible to avoid confrontations with their children.
The best thing about permissive parents is that kids can talk about anything under the sun with them. However, misbehavior in children raised by permissive parents can be hard to correct, too, because of lack of discipline. This can lead to poor academic performance and a higher risk of getting involved in drug-related and anti-social activities.
Out of all the styles of parenting, the uninvolved type is the most damaging to a child. Uninvolved parents neglect their kids’ basic needs and are emotionally detached from them. In some cases, a mental health issue or substance abuse pushes parents to become neglectful. Personal life issues can be a trigger to this behavior, too.
Uninvolved parents expect their kids to fend for themselves. They don’t even care about the usual day-to-day activities of their children. The lack of parental support leads to self-esteem issues, unhappiness, delinquent behaviors, and a higher risk of substance abuse.
What are the Qualities of a Good Parent?
While there are scientific studies that will help you become a better parent, it’s also important to have the basic qualities of a good father or mother, so you can raise your kids to their full potential.
With all the demands and pressure that come with parenting (and career for working parents), it can be so easy to lose one’s temper when the kids don’t behave as expected. But never let your emotions get the better of you. Having a great deal of patience makes child-rearing more bearable. You and your children will both benefit from your ability to keep your cool even in the most stressful situations when you’re together.
To be a good parent, you must show empathy, compassion, love, and understanding to your children even at their worst. Build a safe space for them in your presence—a haven where they don’t have to worry about pleasing you (to be able to win your approval and affection) or be something they’re not.
Be your kids’ solid support system. Let your children know that you always have their back through the good and the bad and that you’ll always be there for them even when they’re all grown up.
Being supportive doesn’t mean ignoring a bad behavior. If you think there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, make your children understand its consequences in a firm yet gentle manner so that they won’t feel like you’re imposing on them.
Even if you’re a busy professional, make spending quality time with your kids your top priority. Juggling a lot of commitments isn’t an excuse for passing up the opportunity to talk and bond with your children.
Being a Good Role Model
Everything you do has an impact on your young ones, so make sure you set a good example to your kids through your words and actions.
There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become a better one. All it takes is creating a healthy balance of authority and support, as well as keeping a loving and nurturing environment for your children.