How to Become a Great Parent in Three Easy Steps
I am a mother. I’ve often wished for a check list like How to Become a Great Parent in Three Easy Steps. I’ve even asked God if He could just spell out every situation specifically. Yet, it doesn’t seem to work that way but with Mother’s Day quickly arriving, I’ve been contemplating my parenting. You know that there is not really any such thing as Three Easy Steps other than crying, Help me God, Help me, God, Help me, God.
My firstborn arrived the week I turned 23. I knew almost nothing about being a mom. Oh, I had read the books, tons of them but I hadn’t even been around a baby in years. Yet I was committed to being a perfect mother.
Now 29 years later as a mother of four amazing kids, one thing I have had to give up was my need to be perfect. While my love for my children has always been unquestionable, my parenting has not been perfect. Mothering is a huge learning curve and no matter how many books you read, so much is learned through the experiences, the highs and lows, the successes and failures.
If I could do it all over again, I’d do so many things differently. Yet how can we know what we don’t know? So what’s a parent to do? Here are a few of my thoughts from my own journey.
Turn in your Superman/Superwoman capes. There are no perfect parents. Even Joseph and Mary goofed up and somehow lost Jesus for an entire day.
Own your failures, not as a guilt trip or a way for your kids to manipulate you but as a way to model facing truth and changing. Say I’m sorry when you blow it. Your kiddos already know you’re not perfect so don’t worry about blowing your image. Model healthy relationships by apologizing when you need to.
Take care of yourself, seriously. Moms, in particular, tend to put themselves last as if being a martyr of some type earns you points with your kids or others. Taking care of yourself teaches kids how to do the same.
Pursue your dreams while teaching your kids to pursue theirs.
Strive for balance. Parenting is the ultimate challenge on time and resources.
Refuse to overextend yourself on a consistent basis. It only leads to disaster of some sort or another.
Figure out the difference between needs and wants, both your own and your kids, and know that sometimes the best thing to say is “No”. And as a therapist friend of mine reminds me, “No” is a complete sentence.
Find a friend, therapist, or someone who will tell you the truth about your life and listen. Check in often.
Pray without ceasing. God knows what you don’t and He’s willing to tell you what you need to know.
Parenting would be so much easier if kids came with checklists, which I personally love J But like all real relationships, parenting is a part of a living process that requires you to be able to hear your heart, your kids’ hearts, and the Father’s heart.
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