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How to be a better parent?
“We never know the love of a parent till we become parents ourselves“
Henry Ward Beecher
Tons of books have been written to reflect this question. Many parents every day are asking themselves this question: “How can I be a better parent? What can I do to ensure my kids experience only the best? How can I be more patient and avoid hurting my child with angry words?”.
1. Parents want what’s best for their children
No matter if you’re divorced, single, young or old – you always want the best for your child. Maybe your opinion is not always welcome and your daughter gets angry with you for telling her to get down to studying instead of daydreaming. You want your child to be good, educated, happy and joyful. So, tell me, why despite all your efforts children grow and often go different paths than those of their parents?
Why children get addicted to alcohol or drugs? Why they don’t want to study?
The first thing you need to do as a parent is to realize that you have influence, but no control over your children adult life. Stop blaming yourself as if you’re in control of your child’s path. You have the influence. But no control. You can inspire your child by your own way of living. Children are amazing creatures. They learn how to behave and react to the environment by copying their parents. So, here lies the greatest influence that you will ever have on your child. Did you ever hear the phrase “happy mother, happy child”?
2. You can only give what you have received and learned. You are a better parent by default.
As a child of your parents you have experienced positive and negative aspects of their personality, life, choices and parenting styles. Even though many of us take pride in how different we are from our parents, we are endlessly sad at how different our children are from us. Family is a constant development and learning.
A mother of a father can only pass on what they themselves got from their parents and the knowledge they have acquired on their own. Family is a transgenerational phenomenon. Let’s take an example here to illustrate this process. In Amanda’s family her parents never really told her they loved her. As a child she noticed her parents never kissed or hugged. They lived peacefully with each other without showing too much emotion. However, she felt they loved her and did everything for her. But, for some reason, they were not able to express it with words by telling her “I love you”. Maybe their own parents had a tough life. Maybe their parents didn’t teach them to say “I love you”.
The result might be that Amanda herself has difficulties in telling verbally her parents or her children that she loves them. Let’s assume this is what she got/learned from her parents as a child. Now, through her life as a grown up she learned to better express her feelings verbally and she is able to say to her parents and her children the magic words “I love you”. In such a way we might say that she learned something on top of what her parents haven’t mastered – the verbal expression of her feelings and emotions. Now she is able to pass this new skill on to her children.
3. Take care of your own emotions and traumas
Are you feeling guilty that you shouted again at your child? Do you feel terrible that your child witnessed an argument with your ex-husband? Remember that you child is a perfect observer and learns by copying the parent’s behavior. Although you might not always have time or motivation to work through your own emotional issues, it’s better you do that.
Unresolved emotional problems and traumas reflect on your well-being and the way you react to the outside world. They also influence your children by the way they see you interacting with yourself, with them and with the world around you. Children need to believe that they are safe and cared for by trusted adults. You can talk through your problems with a trusted friend or a therapist. If you resolve one of your biggest traumas you thus make sure that this won’t be passed on to your child.
To sum up, you are a better parent than you yourself think. Becoming a better parents has a source in you working through your own emotional problems and being a good role model for your child.