Monday, March 14, 2011

What Makes a Good Parent?

My mom and me, circa 1983

In my Purposeful Conception Course: Preparing Your Mind, Body, and Life for Pregnancy, we spend a day thinking about what kind of parents we want to be. I wanted to share my personal list (it's really just a rough draft brainstorm) with all of you to get your thoughts (and, by the way, the attributes are not in any sort of prioritized order):
  1. Patience: Children require an amazing amount of patience. Developmentally, they pass through stages and need different things. At each stage, they need adults who understand what they're going through and can respond with patience. For example, when babies are learning to walk, they want to walk! They throw fits if someone tries to carry them when they would prefer to walk. They aren't trying to be difficult (even though it is much less efficient to let them walk!); they are simply trying to practice walking.
  2. I think adults need to have high expectations for children. As a teacher, I see parents make a lot of excuses for their children. If their children are disrespectful or overly aggressive, they say things like, "Well, they're just kids, right?" Alongside high expectations, I think good parents set reasonable/fair/respectful boundaries and enforce those boundaries with reasonable/fair/respectful consequences.
  3. I think children flourish within routines. I'm not saying every day should be rote and there shouldn't be spontaneity in life, but I believe that children can develop more independence and creativity when they know what to expect within a predictable structure.
  4. Stimulation: Children need lots of varied experiences so they can cultivate a love of learning and so that their natural curiosity can be cultivated and expressed.
  5. Love, love, love!
  6. Children need affirmation and celebration
  7. Children benefit from a solid nutritional background and exposure to lots of different kinds of food.
  8. Good parents don't take out their own issues on their children.
  9. Good parents let children follow their own paths and find their own place in the world.
  10. Good parents act as coaches and guides through life.
  11. Good parents actively try to cultivate independence in their children (which translates into good self-esteem).
  12. Good parents model effective conflict resolution for their children.
  13. Good parents parent as a team.
  14. Good parents make time for family. They prioritize it and give their children plenty of attention.
  15. Good parents give their children freedom to explore. They are not overly protective, and they don't seek to eliminate every disappointment and discomfort from their child's life.
  16. Good parents don't overbook their children in too many activities.
  17. Good parents constantly model the kind of person they want their children to be. They embody the idea that actions speak more loudly than words.
  18. Good parents cultivate a connection to and appreciation for the natural world.
  19. Good parents parent with fun and humor.
  20. Good parents consciously help their children cultivate values and good character.
  21. Good parents actively cultivate respect for all people and an appreciation for diversity in the world.

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Julie said...

This is such a great list! I think if every parent made a list and looked at it regularly, the children of this country would be in a much better spot, as a whole.

stef said...

I think you forgot an important one.

Good parents realize that they don't need to be perfect parents.

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