The Secret to Good Parenting is written by Diana Baker, MSW, a mental health counselor with 20 years’ experience working with children and families. She provides mental health counseling in St. John’s, Florida. Offering individual and family counseling for children, teens, and adults: in-person, in-home, and via Skype.
If I ever have kids, I’ll never _____________________________.
force them to eat brussel sprouts.
snoop through their rooms.
drink around them.
curse at them.
make them feel unwanted.
treat them like they’re invisible.
allow them, for one second, to feel unloved.
Making Things Right
A lot of us who grew up in difficult family environments view our own adulthood as our chance to “make things right.” Often, through parenting our own children, we attempt to heal our own childhood wounds. We try to be the parents we wish we’d had. We try to give our kids the childhood we wanted ourselves.
Most of all, we vow to never do to our kids what was done to us. We promise to do it better. Do it right.
And yet, there are some days when we catch ourselves thinking, behaving, and saying the exact things we vowed never to think, say, or do.
It happens when when we’re especially tired or stressed or distracted by our adult problems. When the kids are unusually grumpy or hyper or defiant or whiny or sick with some illness that has kept them (and us) up all night.
That’s when the old encoded behaviors come roaring out, often against our will, surprising our kids, our partners, and ourselves. And sometimes when the stress is sustained over a long period of time, brought on by any number of things like job loss or divorce, those encoded behaviors become the norm. OUR norm. They just feel so natural. Before we know it, we have turned into our mother or our father, recreating the exact environment we intended to avoid.
We have turned into the person we said we wouldn’t be.
And the more we think, say, and do the things we promised to never think, say, and do, the more ashamed of ourselves we become.
We don’t want to face our own bad behavior. We want to deny it, not think about it, pretend it didn’t happen.
And that’s how we perpetuate it.
The Secret to Good Parenting
The secret to good parenting isn’t much of a secret at all. Our children are nothing more than little people who reflect what they see, and what they see most is us.
If we are stressed and short and angry most of the time, we will have children who are stressed and short and angry most of the time.
If we are compassionate and gracious to ourselves and others most of the time, we will have children who are compassionate and gracious to themselves and others most of the time.
Good parenting, like anything in our lives that we wish to excel at, requires mindfulness and intention. It’s up to us to write the script we wish to follow and then mindfully follow that script to get the results we seek.
For example, if we have a goal to lose 10 pounds in two weeks, we might script the following plan to reach our goal: reduce daily calorie intake, increase daily exercise, limit excess carbs, increase weight bearing exercise, increase daily water intake, etc.
If we have a goal to parent our children in a way that builds their self-esteem and good mental health, it’s up to us to script a plan to reach that goal: always speak kindly, communicate openly, always be truthful, validate feelings, apologize for poor behavior, take time for self-care to reduce stress and remain in control, practice mindfulness so that, at any moment, we can modify our own behavior when we notice ourselves veering off track and make the appropriate adjustments.
The secret to good parenting, as to anything in this human life, is mindfulness. If mental health is the result of an unwavering dedication to reality at all costs, then success in any area of our life is the result of an unwavering dedication to following an intentional, mindful, healthy script that will result in the outcome we hope to achieve.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
If you or someone you know is struggling with parenting issues, or has a child in need of support, help is available. We don’t have to pass down a legacy of dysfunction, doomed to repeat our parents’ behavior, or dooming our own children to repeat ours.
Write your new script.
We’re glad you’re here.
Good Mental Health, LLC is a counseling practice located in St. Johns, Florida, offering individual and family counseling to children, teens, and adults. With sessions available face-to-face and via Skype, we hope to provide the tools and skills necessary to heal past wounds, grow healthy relationships, and build strong families. For more information, read more about us, or contact us here.