Have you read books or blogs about how to be a good parent, or, even, the perfect parent? I can admit that I have some of those books sitting half read on my bookshelf right now. I read ahead of my son’s age, so I can prepare myself for the next stage of his life, looking ahead for the best ways to support him, trying to make sure he is well rounded, smart, social, creative, interested, kind… the list goes on.
Most importantly, I read to make sure I don’t have regrets about the way I raise him, and that I am being a good parent to him. I mean, who better to tell me how to parent than some expert, a stranger, who wrote a book on parenting?!
Through these readings and discussions with my husband, I have come to realize that a lot of these books don’t make me feel like I am doing a great job of parenting. My son and I don’t seem to fit precisely into the methods they teach.
Yet, it is through reading these books that I’ve realized how I can be a “good parent” for my son. The formula is simple: continue to get to know him – how he operates, what he likes and dislikes, his mannerisms, his tendencies, his behaviors, and triggers. Then, work with him to get what we both need. Sure, I have tried specific techniques and methods to deal with rough phases we’ve faced, but their success always comes back to the same test: does this work for my child?
To be good parents, we need to focus our attention on getting to know our children, rather than worrying about what specific parenting style we are following. When we do this, we end up being really great parents because we are paying attention to the needs of our children. When we give them our attention, and don’t try to force ourselves into a box of being a certain type of parent, into a rigid way of thinking or belief system, we allow ourselves to be flexible, to adapt to the situation at hand, to our child in that moment, and that allows for the best possible outcome for all of us. It gives us the freedom to take all that we’ve learned about parenting and mesh it together to become, not the perfect parent, but the perfect parent for our child’s needs.
Good parents understand how their children operate. Good parents learn their child’s triggers and cues, so that their child’s emotions rarely escalate to a full-blown tantrum. It’s the little things, like, if a parent knows their child gets fussy at 3pm, then they honor that (when possible) and choose to hang at home rather than go on a playdate. In these ways, a good parents trust their instincts, give as much attention and affection as their children will allow, and, in the process, they become the perfect parents for their unique children.