A New Year, a New Parent: Five Life-Changing Resolutions for Parents
Here are five resolutions that get to the heart of what parents need for 2011:
Americans are now working more hours than any other industrialized country. Some parents have little choice in their work hours; others do. It’s key to remember that what our children need most from us is not a bigger house or a newer car, but whatever time we can give and a genuine, caring relationship. Your child measures your success as a parent not by what you provide, but by your love and commitment to them.
Teach Toward the Long-term Good
In our consumer culture, the lines between need and want are often indistinguishable. Our primary job as parents is to equip our children to distinguish between need and want, between their short-term happiness and their long-term good.
Resist Parenting Formulas
Many parenting programs and formulas, some selling in the millions, promise to make parenting easy and convenient. But most of us didn’t have children for convenience. Resist the temptation to follow someone else’s one-size-fits all formulas. Remember why you had children in the first place. Celebrate the uniqueness of each child, and the chaotic, thrilling ride of parenting.
Most families follow a school-and-work schedule that often precludes spontaneous trips and adventures. The concern for safety and protection, too, has led many to label this generation of parents and their children the ‘anxious generation.” But over-scheduling and over-sheltering cripple our children with fear and limit their enjoyment and effectiveness in life. Give your kids challenges and adventures to stretch their abilities and develop self-confidence, problem-solving skills, and courage.
Trust What is Real About Parenting, Not What You Feel About Parenting
Nothing is closer to our emotions than parenting. Recognize that our emotions and our sense of fulfillment will fluctuate from day-to-day. The value of parenting, however, is not determined by how we feel about it at any given moment, but by what is real about it: Our children are given to us as gifts and responsibilities; they are of inestimable value; we get to “make a difference” in the world by making a difference in them.
Adapted from “Parenting is Your Highest Calling … and Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt” (Waterbrook).
Leslie Leyland Fields is the mother of six children and the author of six books, among them “Surviving the Island of Grace” and “Surprise Child: Finding Hope in Unexpected Pregnancy.” She is a graduate professor who teaches creative nonfiction in Seattle Pacific University’s MFA program.