This post written by Roland Legge was originally featured on YourTango.
Because we've all been there.
Parenting is probably the most significant challenge you will take on in life, and as you strive to figure out how to be a good parent, you'll encounter many deep psychological questions to ask yourself about how you want to raise your kids along the way.
Being a parent can be rewarding and challenging at the same time. No child comes with instructions. Every child is different and there are many ways to be a good parent.
You are not perfect, and that is okay. To be human is to be imperfect — it doesn't mean you're a bad parent.
But, if you want to know how to be a good parent, the best gift you can give your child is a healthy you.
If you take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and mentally, you will be in the best place to respond to your children with love, compassion, and guidance.
Are you still worried about how to be a good parent? Chances are, you are probably a better parent than you think you are.
Here are 9 deep questions to ask yourself to find out if you're actually a good parent, or if you need some parenting tips to help you raise healthier, happier kids:
1. Do you forgive your child for small mistakes?
When your child, in their excitement, unintentionally breaks your favourite mug, how do you react?
Parents who take a moment to calm down before talking to their child will find opportunities to demonstrate unconditional love. By letting your child know you forgive them with a hug or other gesture, you create space for learning.
While showering your child with love, you can encourage them to be more careful and learn that accidents do happen.
Parents who lash out at their child for breaking their favourite mug will risk separating themselves emotionally from their child. It may get harder and harder to connect with them if you respond this way too often.
Your child may begin to fear your emotional outburst and they will either retreat into their inner world. This makes it harder to reach them or act out their anger by breaking more things in the house.
2. Do you try to learn more about your child?
You have been called to the school to take your child home because your kid was rude to the teacher. What do you do?
Parents who sit down with the teacher to find out what happened — with their child present — open opportunities for learning. For example, your child might be experiencing bullying and their poor behaviour is a cry for help. Or, maybe your child was having a bad day and they need to learn how to treat others better.
When you talk together, you can better understand what is going on.
Parents who assume their child is guilty make assumptions without checking them out which can be costly. When you get angry without trying to discern what happened from your child's perspective, you risk losing their trust.
3. Do you teach your child about money?
You get your latest phone bill to discover your child has been downloading games and you have an exorbitant phone bill. How do you respond?
Parents who calm themselves down and make a plan to address the problem before talking with their child will find it more manageable. You will need to help your child to understand why they can't download all these apps.
There is a consequence for everyone when a family member spends more than the family can afford. You need to help them to understand the value of money by finding some way for them to pay the family back, which could be a reduction in an allowance or having them do extra chores.
Parents who let their child get away with this will risk their children having little respect for money. Not only will it mean that you, the parent, will have more surprises in the future, it will stunt their growth into becoming responsible adults.
4. Do you hold your child accountable for their actions?
Your child pulled the tail of the cat and got severely scratched. What do you do?
Parents who take care of their child's injuries and give the cat some space creates room for learning and compassion. After they have calmed down, you can help your child to understand that the cat needs respect and care.
You can ask your child to imagine being the cat and having its tailed pulled. Help your child to see that the cat's attack was a direct result of she or he mistreating the cat.
Parents who blame and punish the cat, without holding your child accountable, will create problems for your child's future and the well-being of your own family. Importantly, your child will learn nothing about the importance of respecting animals.
Children who do not learn to appreciate animals will often have difficulties with how they treat the people in their lives.
5. Do you positively reinforce responsibility in your child?
After work, you pick up your child at the daycare to find that they got paint all over their new clothes. What do you say?
Parents who have a good sense of humour will help them to deal with any challenge your child presents. Remember that there is always a way around the incident that will help your child to learn from the error of their ways.
You can encourage them to be more careful with their clothes and give them positive reinforcement when they come from a school with their clothes undamaged.
Parents who lash out at their child for messing up their clothes can severely damage their child's self-worth if this happens over and over. Often, children will become subservient when trying to make you happy or they go the opposite way and try doing everything they can to upset you.
6. Do you make sure your child knows you love them?
You go into your child's room to discover they have marked up the wall with paint, crayons, and felt markers. What do you do?
Parents must understand that playing and testing their power is part of growing up. You don't need to hide your disappointment but it's important to let your child know that there is nothing that will stop you from loving them. If your child is old enough, you can ask them to help you to clean up the mess.
Parents who lash out at their children for making a mess will not necessarily deter your child from doing it again. If you make them angry enough, they will do it again and probably even worse.
Some children will respond to your lashing out with depression, self-harm, addictions, and poor self-esteem.
7. Do you listen to your child?
You have had a stressful day, and your child wants to tell you about something important that happened at school, but you want to be left alone. What do you do?
Parents who take good care of themselves will have the skills to know how to deal with this situation. If you can't listen at the moment, set a time to listen to their news as soon as you can.
Let your child know that you want to hear their story, but you need a few minutes to settle down before you give them all your attention. Don't let your child down. Make the time to hear what they are excited about whether it is good or bad.
Parents who are exhausted need to be careful that you don't disengage from the lives of your children because they are in a time of life where they need you. When you push children away, they start feeling that they have little worth.
This negative feeling towards themselves will play itself out in destructive ways which include addictions, poor behaviour, and mood swings. It not only impacts their childhood but it can affect their whole life.
8. Do you support your child on bad days?
Your child is in a bad mood. They can't say anything nice. It is impacting your whole family. You are at your wit's end. How do you respond?
Parents who know that some days are going to be tough will find a way through this rough patch. You do your best to get through the day as well as you can no matter how your kids are acting.
Children are like adults. They have bad days like we do. Sometimes we don't even know why we are upset and this is especially true for children. Sometimes the only way to resolve a bad day is to get a good sleep and start over the next day.
Parents who take out their anger on their children and each other will only make the situation worse. Yelling at your child or spanking them might make you feel better for a moment but escalate the behaviour.
9. Have you taught your child how to share?
It is the summer holidays and your kids keep fighting over who gets to play games on the computer. What do you do?
Parents who see these disputes as learning opportunities will make the best of them by helping their kids learn to share. Allowing your children to be bored can be an excellent opportunity to encourage them to use their imagination.
You are helping your children to learn that they will not get their way all of the time. Life is about learning to cooperate and taking your turn.
Parents who give up right away by yelling at their kids and enforcing everything with punitive measures will lose the respect of their children. Your kids will think you can get your way when you are the loudest and meanest. And getting more computers will not help your kids to learn about how to share.
Sharing is an essential skill that enhances relationships.
Ultimately, if you take good care of yourself, you will be prepared to deal with all the ups and downs of family life so you can be the great parent you want to be.
When you are grounded and calm, you will be able to deal with any challenges your child is experiencing and they will know that they are loved unconditionally. You will be able to take advantage of teachable moments and model love, compassion, patience, and responsibility.
Do not be ashamed to reach out to professional help when needed. You are not supposed to be a perfect parent because no such person exists.
You are called to be a faithful parent who never gives up, teaching and encourageing your children to be the best people they can be.
An essential part of being a good parent is not to give up on yourself. So, the question to ask yourself is: Are you striving to be the best parent you can be every day?
When you miss the mark, you learn from your mistakes and move on.
Roland Legge can help you to get to know yourself better, unlocking your inner capacity to be the best parent you can be. For more information, you can arrange for a free 30-minute discovery call by emailing him or by booking an appointment on his website.
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