Who you are matters more than what you do. This simple truth is the hinge upon which all your parenting techniques swing. Yet this fundamental fact eludes far too many parents. Don’t let it happen to you. Make this the year you cultivate “intentional traits” for your child to emulate.
Here are eight New Year’s resolutions to help you become the parent you want to be in 2008.
1. Give them the praise they crave: Be an affirming parent. Realistically praise what your child does, and show them that you notice, love and value them.
2. Count to ten – again: Be a patient parent. When frustrated, stay calm and cool and try to see the world from your child’s viewpoint.
3. Hear what they don’t say: Be an attentive parent. Listen for the feelings, values, and fear your children do not overtly express, and find gentle and meaningful ways to let them know you understand.
4. See a picture of their future: Be a visionary parent. Treat your children’s dreams seriously and foster a future that will help them actualize what they aspire to do and be.
5. Build a better bond: Be a connected parent. Create bonding experiences by intentionally fostering activities you enjoy together.
6. Commemorate milestones: Be a celebratory parent. Communicate a powerful message of love to your child by planning festivities to commemorate developmental signposts worth remembering.
7. Keep your word: Be an authentic parent. Use everyday occurrences to “walk your talk” and show your children that you are deserving of their trust.
8. Instill wisdom: Be an insightful parent. Become an “emotional coach” for your child by accepting negative emotions as a fact of life and using them as opportunities to teach life lessons.
Can’t be all eight? That’s okay. No parent perfectly embodies each of these. So choose the qualities that matter most to you. Which ones do you want your child to use in describing you twenty years from now? Put your efforts there and make this your best year as a parent ever.
Best-selling authors Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott are founders of RealRelationships.com and co-directors of the Center for Relationship Development at Seattle Pacific University. Les Parrott is a professor of clinical psychology at SPU, and Leslie is a marriage and family therapist at SPU.
Check out the Parrott’s new book The Parent You Want To Be: Who You Are Matters More Than What You Do on Amazon.com.