Recently, I heard about a man who harbors an interesting fear. His fear isn’t of spiders or snakes, nor is it of heights or clowns. The source of his growing inner apprehension isn’t something that can be traced back to a traumatic childhood experience with a neighbor’s dog, and it certainly isn’t related to the heart-stopping prospect of having to speak in front of a large crowd.
Even though I have never found myself biting my nails over the same topic that fills the man with deep trepidation, I can’t help but feel for him. Afterall, his fear isn’t caused by something trivial; his concern is as valid an argument as I have ever heard. And since I will likely face a similar stage of life one day, it is hard not to ask myself the same question that has been haunting him:
Do I have what it takes to be a good parent?
For the man in question, the strained relationship he’s experienced with his own father has casted a significant shadow of doubt over the relationship he hopes to have with his future children. Afterall, had his father truly been a good parent throughout the years, or had he simply maintained a shiny veneer of what a good parent “should be”?
The man, still struggling to come to terms with the continual uncertainty of their present relationship (as well as perceived wrongs of the past), isn’t entirely sure that he isn’t bound to unintentionally repeat the mistakes he has watched his father make– the mistakes that, over the years, has encouraged resentment to build up between them.
The weakened father-son dynamic, coupled with the painful childhood memory of growing up in a less than ideal family situation, has been more than enough reason for the man to consider if starting a family of his own would be the best idea. And while he has never asked for my personal thoughts on the matter, I certainly wish he would. But who knows? Perhaps one day he will.
Despite being the furthest thing from a parenting expert, I have always considered myself an expert on the one topic that matters most in any relationship we could hope to maintain: Love.
That being said, I’d like to share a new blog series: Three Simple Steps: A Childless Chick’s Uncomplicated Guide To Great Parenting
Whether you are the parent of a young child, the parent of a full-fledged adult, or someone who is merely contemplating whether parenthood is something you have the capacity to successfully manage, please keep reading. I truly believe the following three-step strategy will be a blessing to anyone who approaches and implements them with an open heart and mind.
But before we jump right into the mix of things, let’s talk about a few preliminary things to keep in mind as you follow along with the series.
So, There’s Good News…
Who doesn’t like a little dessert before dinner? Let’s start off by discussing all of the positive, wonderful things that you can hope to take away from this series.
First of all, the three steps are simple. So many parents drive themselves crazy trying to read countless books or talking to numerous child development and parenting experts, just hoping to find a way to achieve the ever elusive goal of becoming the “perfect” parent.
However, many of them come away from their efforts feeling confused, frustrated, and further away from their ideal goal of having an excellent relationship with their child. The three steps I will share with you are extremely straight-forward and easy to understand. There’s no jargon, no frills, no confusion.
Secondly, the three steps can work for anyone, at any point. It doesn’t matter how old your children are, what gender they are, or what kind of personality they have. You can definitely implement these steps with your children even if your relationship with them is already stellar– After all, a good relationship can never be too good.
Likewise, these steps are also going to be effective for anyone who has a desire to understand how a healthy parent-child relationship can be built:
- Parents with strained relationships with their young/adolescent/adult children
- Step-parents who would like to foster a better bond with their partner’s children
- Parents who wish to prepare for the potential challenges of their child’s transition to a new lifestage (ie., a child who is starting to exhibit the more independent and/or rebellious traits of adolescence)
- Older children who wish to help facilitate improved relations with their parents
- Currently childless individuals who are contemplating or intent upon having their own children in the future
The best thing about this series is that it will produce positive results. If you read everything presented and put the steps into practice while maintaining the proper mindset, changes are highly likely.
Of course, no one can predict how much improvement you can expect or specifically when it will take place; that much truly depends on your own situation, the state of the relationships in question, and the consistency and effort you personally put forth. All the same, the more you practice the steps, the more improvement you can expect to see over time. If nothing else, the three steps can help preserve the current state of your relationship and prevent it from worsening beyond repair.
…And There’s Some
Bad Not-So-Great News
Now it’s time for a strong dose of reality. I’ve shared with you what the three steps have the power to do, but now I need to stress what they cannot do.
As previously stated, I am not a registered expert of any kind. At the time of publication I am not a parent, a therapist, or Christina’s genie in a bottle. I don’t wear black robes, attend Hogwarts, or wave knobby wands around while running away from He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. I am, however, a concerned and compassionate citizen of the world who has a desire to share the insight I have gained over the years.
Of course, you could always seek the advice of an actual “parenting expert”, but the only problem that lies in doing this is that they aren’t able to perform magic either.
You, as the parent (either biological or adopted), must take the ultimate responsibility for how your child is raised. No matter where you go for advice or support, the work needs to come from you in order to be the most impactful. Your child should not look to a sibling, a television show, strangers on the Internet, or therapists for a fundamental sense of identity or belonging before looking to you.
So, whether you follow the three steps or subscribe to an entirely different school of thought, please commit to being fully present and engaged in anything you subject your children to; their ultimate wellbeing depends on it.
Throughout my life, I have had the educational, but sometimes heartbreaking experience of having intimate interactions with a number of adults and children who have suffered greatly due to having poor relationships with one or more of their parents and/or children. More specifically, I have witnessed what can happen when parents fail to make healthy, sound decisions concerning their children.
No matter how the parent-child relationships have started or ended, the parents who were most consistent in following the three steps I plan to share with you ended up raising children who embodied the true definition of success.
The true definition of success. This is a concept that we will definitely address time and time again throughout the series because it is of extreme importance.
These three steps are not about giving you the tools to ensure that your child (or children) line up with who you or society thinks they should be. On the contrary, this series is designed to help you become the kind of parent who raises children to be who they truly are because that is the best parent there is.
Last, but not least, I desperately need you to understand that while the three steps are simple, they are by no means guaranteed to be easy.
Depending on your situation, the steps could take weeks, months, or even years to fully implement. Even so, don’t let the process discourage you.
There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to parenting, so take it one day at a time and focus on improving what you can. As long as you are personally making any progress in the right direction, there will always be a corresponding improvement and/or lessening of damage to your child’s wellbeing.
The Benefit Of Being The Best Parent You Can Be
As we all know, parenting is hard. It’s not hard simply because there’s a whole separate human being looking up at us for 18+ years, relying upon us to provide their every need. Additionally, it isn’t hard merely because mothers don’t spit out babies with instruction manuals attached to them.
Parenting is hard because of all the unforeseen, impossible to anticipate (and thereby avoid) external influences that flow through our lives.
It can be emotionally exhausting knowing that while the rest of the world can freely come along and influence your child to go this way or that, you are the only one who will be held accountable for the influences you personally expose them to.
I think this is the crux of many parents’ fears– the lack of control over how their child will ultimately turn out. After all, rarely looks at an individual and says, “Hmm, I wonder what life circumstances outside of this person’s family caused them to be like that.” Often, it is far more likely that the outside world will observe someone’s negative traits and wonder what their parents “did wrong”.
A good example of this is when we see a child behaving poorly in a grocery store; we immediately look to the parents as a major source of the problem, or at least as the party responsible for correcting the child’s disruptive behavior.
Although this may be true, it places a lot of pressure on parents to doing everything “right”. However, in doing so, they may overemphasize the importance of making socially acceptable parenting decisions while accidentally neglecting what’s genuinely best for their child.
Overall, my hope in sharing these three steps is to encourage current or future parents to view their role as a parent as realistically as possible.
Additionally, I hope to help people focus more on the fundamental objectives and joys of child-rearing and less on the fluffy, fantasy goals that many parents erroneously (not to mention fruitlessly) invest time and energy into pursuing.
This is not about becoming a better parent in comparison to someone else, but about being a more loving, patient, supportive, and respected parent than you were the day before– each and every day.
If you truly desire to have a happy, well adjusted family, there is no reason in this world why you can’t pursue that path. In fact, your presence here and willingness to learn more is evidence enough that there is something inside you that has the makings of a conscientious and proactive parent.
It doesn’t matter where you come from, what you’ve gone through, or how you feel about your own upbringing. Regardless of our background, our future does not need to be defined by our past. We all have the power and wherewithall to deviate from dysfunctional family patterns and faulty societal norms to help our children become the strong individuals they are meant to be.
By making a decision to raise and interact with your children based on the three basic principles I plan on sharing with you, you can help to ensure that your role as a parent is one that they’d be happy to one day emulate.
Please join me in the next installment for Step One: Love Yourself
© C.M. 2020 All Rights Reserved
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Ciao for now!
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