Because kids don’t come with a handbook!

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Posted by: Sue Atkins

There is absolutely no doubt that raising a family can be an exhausting, challenging and on many occasions a frustrating business; but when you get it right there is no single experience in life that will prove to be as fulfilling and rewarding as bringing up happy children.

Every parent wants to do the very best they can for their children and aspires, to be the “perfect parent”; but without an instruction manual to tell us what we need to do to get there and without a big chequered flag being waved to congratulate us when we’ve actually got there, how do we really know when we’ve achieved this position of mythical stature?

Well the good news is that there’s no such thing as the “perfect parent”, so we can all stop worrying about getting there!

Our aspirations as parents should be to ensure that our children all grow up as happy kids, full of life, confidence and self assurance and that we can help them grow into perfectly rounded well balanced adults.

Our focus on the parental journey should therefore be about embracing all that we can do to make this goal more achievable – if we all aspire to that, then that for me is as close as any of us can ever get to being the perfect parent!

It’s not about how often or where you take your kids out for day trips or how much you spoil them with gifts and goodies that’s important; it’s about the time you spend with them and about embracing the key skills and resources that we as parents all have readily available in our armoury to ensure that the end goal of raising happy, confident children is achieved.

As a qualified parent coach, I frequently see families who have become so consumed and frustrated with trying to achieve the unachievable in their parental lives that they just don’t know what else to try to make things better! Most often just some direction, clarity and confidence that they’re doing the right things, is all that’s needed and by refocusing on the simple things that we can all do as parents to improve the lives of our children is enough to improve the situation immeasurably.

Parenting is a very much a business of evolving and growing along with your child, developing and learning and remaining flexible through the various stages of their lives. The skills required of us when our children are toddlers are very different to the skills required when they are teenagers!

It’s important therefore to look at the various things that you can learn and implement into your lives throughout the different stages of development of your children that will give them a more fulfilling and happy upbringing.

There are many influences on our style of parenting; the way our parents brought us up, our personality, our stress levels and our lifestyle, to name only a few. But how many of us actually take “time out” to think about our style and see if it is working effectively and going in the direction we consciously want it to?

Just give yourself a minute and think about who influences you as a parent – who were your role models?

Do you want to pass that style of parenting on or do you want to develop your own style, influencing your teenager in your own way?

All parenting is about CHANGE and how you adapt to it or face up to it. Do you put your head in the sand, embrace it or celebrate it as a natural part of your child growing up?

Do you “go with the flow” or push up the river fighting the current?

Well, here are some practical and simple solutions to help you all through this important time of change.

Remember all parenting is about change and how you handle it.

How you talked to your 4 year old and disciplined her is not necessarily going to work now she is 14!

• Expect the unexpected, stay flexible and find new ways to communicate with your teenager that you both can enjoy. You probably have a personal philosophy on life, but have you got
a personal philosophy on your parenting?

• Think about your principles and values that you hold dear. Have you got a clear vision of where you are going as a parent and what it is you want to achieve? It’s the destination of your parenting – it keeps you going when times get tough.

• Write down five or six clear statements in a positive tone about where you are going as a parent. This will help you “stay with it” when you are adapting to all the changes (and hormones!) in your home.

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