When you first found out you were going to be a parent you probably had mixed emotions. There is the excitement of taking on the new role. There is the fear of not really knowing what to do, or how much babies cost, etc. There is anxiety, anticipation, and more. You probably had big plans about how you were going to raise your children, and these idealistic dreams of how your child would end up. They were going to be a super athlete because you were going to spend countless hours playing ball with them. They were going to be the next world genius because you were going to read to them, get them lessons in anything that interests them, teach them things, have them learn languages very young. The list goes on. So, how are those idealistic dreams coming?
For most parents the reality is that real life took over. You had bills to pay, errands to run, sleep you were lacking, patience that ran out, and more. It is okay that you are not a perfect parent, or that your child is not an honor student. However, what is not okay, is giving up on becoming a better parent. There is always room for improvement. So, let’s take a look at what it takes to become a better parent:
Goals: You should take the time to outline what areas of your parenting you want to improve on. It may be something simple like taking a bigger interest in what interests your child. It might be more demanding of a goal, like stopping hitting your child, or stop yelling. Whatever it is, if you want to be a better parent you can’t just go at it haphazardly. You have to have a starting place, and somewhere to work toward. Becoming a better parent is a process, and it is not going to happen overnight. However, it is not going to happen at all if you do not set up a logical way to become better in areas where you may be somewhat deficient.
Time: If you want to be a better parent you have to invest time into it. Just like anything you want to improve at, you have to work at it. If you wanted to become a better piano player it would not happen just because you want it; you hire a teacher; you have to practice. You have to mess up sometimes and learn from your mistakes. You have to try new, harder pieces. You have to be willing to take risks. The same holds true for parenting. If you want to be a better parent you have to dedicate time to it. You have to practice. For example, you might say you want to stop yelling. Well, the first time you lose your cool and yell do you give up on that? No. You re-commit and practice patience. Anything worth doing is going to take some time. So, plan to invest yourself in becoming a better parent, and guess what? You will!
Love: Every parent loves their children, even if sometimes they do not think they do. To be a better parent it is time to express that love, and use that love. For example, start by simply making your child’s day better each morning. You can wake them up with a smile on your face, and a plate of pancakes. You can leave little love notes in their lunch box, or surprise them with fresh baked cookies after school. It is time to start doing some of those little things you always thought you would. You also need to love yourself. When you find that your stress levels are through the roof you need to turn down the request for room-mother help, forget about washing the dishes and take a bubble bath instead. By taking time for you, and loving you, you become a better mom or dad for your child. You won’t be a great parent if you are too busy or too stressed out to enjoy your children while they are still children.