As the father of four children, each of whom is very much their own person, I have had some ups and downs. It seems that thus far, my middle daughter is the biggest handful. Please feel free to read that as disobedient, angry, knows everything there is to know, is going to do her own thing regardless of the consequences then blame everyone else for bringing those consequences down on her, teen. Trying to keep this child, at the very least, heading in at least somewhat the right direction has proven to be a challenge. Not a week has gone by that I haven’t asked myself what else we can do to help this child do better. In recent days I’ve taken an even deeper look into what makes this child tick, and what to do.
At this point I’m sure you are looking for that ten point list that was promised in the title, but in reality, there isn’t a quick, easy list to help you with whatever problems you are having with your child, or that you might have in the future. Instead, I challenge you to look back into yourself. While trying to shake some kind of answer free about my daughter, I found myself looking deeper and deeper into myself, or more specifically, my teenage self. I turned over actions in my head that I did in my past that seem to parallel my own daughter’s, and a realization came to me, we as parents forget who we as children once were.
Yes, I know, not everyone was as misbehaved as I was, or as their child might be, but who we are goes deeper than the actions we take. When we question ourselves as parents what we are doing wrong, sometimes we have to look back at ourselves and ask what did our parents really do wrong, or do right. This isn’t an attempt to downplay the role our parents have in our lives, they are, after all, where we get a lot of our guiding principles in life. Instead, this is to help you understand that despite our best efforts our children will manage to be themselves despite our best efforts to cultivate them otherwise. So do not blame yourself for everything that your child does wrong, because there is a good chance that you really aren’t to blame. Each child is who they are, and are, as we all are, individuals with different needs and motivations. We work with them the best we can, and hope we get it right, and that they make the choices that they must make to become the best they can be. So don’t be so ready to look to the outside for what to do, instead look within yourself, you just might find something that will surprise you.
I do have one tip, however, that is a universal answer to being a good parent. Always consider what is best for the child, not what the child thinks is best, not what seems the easiest, or not even what something online says is best (ironic, isn’t it?), but what, to the best of your knowledge, is best for the child. Sometimes being a parent means making a hard choice, being mean, or may make you the unpopular one of the family, but if you always do what is best for the child, to the best of your ability of knowing, then you have done your job as a parent.