Consider what keeps you from being a better parent. Have you ever thought about that? I’m sure we all have a reason in mind, or maybe an excuse. Good parenting is not easy. It takes a lot of attention and hard work, and it takes thought and self-examination. So what are some of these reasons?
Alfie Kohn in his book, "Unconditional Parenting" suggests a few reasons. The following list includes just a few of many that Kohn suggests.
1. What we see and hear
From media, other parents and our own interaction with our children.
2. What we believe
Do we believe that our children have good intentions or are they out to try to ruin our image and their own lives?
3. Capabilities of children
Do we expect too much or too little from our children, and then get mad at them when they don’t live up to our expectations?
4. What we feel
We may feel our child is more difficult than other children or that they are trying to intentionally frustrate us.
5. Fear of parental inadequacy
Kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Sometimes we are so scared to fail our children that we, oftentimes, will mess up from the pressure we place upon ourselves to be the perfect parent.
Another author, Dr. Jane Nelson suggests in her book, "Positive Discipline" that the felt need for punishment by some adults (parents) may, in fact, not really help our cause of being better parents. In her book, she speaks of the 4 R’s of Punishment.
When we punish our children with negativity these are the things that she suggests can happen within our children. Is this our goal? Do we really want our kids resenting us, or openly rebelling? We need to take time to monitor our actions as parents. Find our fears and make changes so that these situations don’t happen to us and our family.
Many parents may also fear the idea of being too protective or overbearing (called helicopter parenting). We are scared to let our kids learn their own lessons, and so we try to keep them safe from everything. The Love and Logic Program suggests that, as parents, it’s better for us to allow our children to learn lessons by making small mistakes now rather than waiting until they are in more high-risk situations and having them make the mistakes then.
The important thing to realize is that no matter what you do you’re not going to be a perfect parent. We need to take the time and make the effort to become better one day at a time. Take the time to examine your parenting style. Do you have any of the above mentioned thoughts or fears? Are these thoughts and fears justifiable? Can you put them aside to become a better parent? I encourage you to take the time you need to find your weakness as a parent and make a change so that you will become more like the parent you want and ought to be.
BJ Elkington is a student studying Marriage and Family.He’s spent the last three and a half years studying family interaction and especially parenting.He recently taught a parenting course based on Alfie Kohns Unconditional Parenting. BJ plans to continue his education and pursue a master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.