is one of the hardest jobs anyone can take up, and it comes to many
of us when we are unprepared. Even if your baby is longed for, wished
for and planned, parenting is a twenty year plus journey without a
In fact, you never really give up that title, “Mom” or “Dad.” Done right, it is a lifetime description that begins with providing the most basic necessities of life and ends with learning to listen, to wait and to trust that the lessons you taught and the examples you set were the right ones.
January is a good time for resolutions and goal setting. It is a rare parent who doesn’t top their list with “I will be a better parent.” But what does that really mean? What helps make you a better parent?
Here are some resolutions that can make a huge difference in your ability to parent:
I will love my child with all my heart, and never be ashamed of doing so. Even though sometimes it is hard to put aside my own goals and wishes for his or her good.
I will be a better listener. Learning to be an active listener is not easy. To do it you must move beyond, “mm-hmm” and “That’s nice,” or tuning in with half an ear as your child babbles about his or her day at school. You need to tune in to the unsaid as well as the spoken messages.
I will make time for myself, even if it is only a few minutes in the morning and in the evening. Allison Owens, of Unsullyd, has some super tips for skin care, healthy eating and making yourself look beautiful.
I will watch for the unspoken signals. One of the earliest things a parent learns is to interpret pre-verbal communication. Babies have different cries for hunger, pain, and anger. They quickly learn to smile back at adults when they are happy and pleased. They recognize their parents, and they will let you know if they are unhappy about being left with a sitter or at a daycare. Do not ignore these signals.
I will not rush maturation milestones. Weaning, toilet training, walking and talking are all things that work best on the child’s time, not on the time of the adults associated with him or her. You might be tired of late night feedings, dirty diapers, the fetch the dropped toy game, or trying to figure out what your preverbal child is telling you, but some things just cannot be rushed. Physical ability trumps behavior, every time. Trying to make your child reach these milestones early will only make both of you unhappy.
Your resolutions might be different from these. Perhaps you’ve already mastered these skills, and are ready to move on to others. Listening, patience and firmness are learned skills, and the best ways to practice them varies from one child to another, and even – sometimes it seems – from minute to minute. If you are a new parent, you are just beginning to learn how to exercise these skills.
Even if you are a great-grandparent, you sometimes need to regroup and relearn. The one resolve that you hardly ever need to refresh is how very much you love them and their children, no matter big they grow to be.