The 10 Essentials To Becoming The Parent Your Child Wants (And That You’ll Love)

#1. Essential Parenting ONE – Melt The Guilt

I see you.

I see you trying to do your best and never thinking you’re good enough. Your children mean the world to you. You have taken to parenting like a duck to water even though you can’t really swim. You’re there for your kids, night and day. Always giving them your time, your energy, and the best of everything, reserving hardly anything for yourself.

You meet your children’s physical needs. You shop for groceries, you provide a clean house and create a safe place to live. You get them to school on time and you make sure they get their homework done. You provide them with clothes and shoes and there is always enough food to eat. You put them in piano and guitar lessons, soccer, swimming, and gymnastics to develop their skills.

And even beyond that, you’re there for them. When they are having a bad day, you notice it even when they don’t want you to. You look for little things to do to brighten their day, even though no one else notices. You think about them when they’re at school and worry when they’re two minutes late. You feel guilty when you discipline them and they get mad at you. You tell yourself it’s for their own good, but you still feel like a bad parent.

When society tells you that your children need to have an activity scheduled every day of the week, you worry about the money it will cost. When they tell you your kids need to improve their marks in school, you question why you don’t make them do more homework.

When the church says that children must be quiet, you apologize to everyone seated around you when they drop their pen or clap out of turn. When the pastor preaches on giving more of your time and money selflessly to those less fortunate, you feel like he’s talking directly to you and your family.

When you read that book by the famous child psychologist who said that a good child takes responsibility for their actions and yet your oldest child continues to blames everyone but himself, I see you losing your confidence. When your child doesn’t care that his room is a mess and he’s rude to his siblings, you wonder what you did wrong.

When your Great Aunt Pearl tells you that you’re babying your youngest child, you wonder if she’s right and you don’t cuddle with him in bed at night, even though he begs you to. And when the other Mom at school makes a comment about how shy your daughter is, you don’t know whether to agree with her or defend your child.

You have so many different people weighing in on your children and your parenting, you begin to wonder if maybe you’re just messing everything up. Maybe your children won’t turn into happy, well-adjusted adults and they’d be better off without you. Maybe, you think, maybe you’re just not a good parent.


Stop it.

Stop listening to everyone else and your own insecure thoughts.

Do they know your kids? Does that psychologist have a child like yours? Did your Great Aunt Pearl know how your youngest spent three weeks in the hospital after his premature birth? Were any of them there from the beginning to change their diapers and stay up with them all night when they were sick? Do they go to parent-teacher conferences and soccer games and dentist appointments?


Do they really think they know you – and how to parent your children – better than you do? Of course not!

You are the parent. You are the one who is there for your kids twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You make sure they are clean and fed and you go above and beyond to give them the best life that you can afford. You care for them from the little things in their lives, like the dandelions they picked for you, to the big things, like listening to why their teacher hates them.

That is what makes you the very best parent in the world for your child.

So how do you know whether your parenting is on track?

#2. Essential Parenting TWO – Know Thyself

Preparation Know Thyself

I’m a busy Mom, just like you. I have five active children, and in my spare time, I am a personal trainer and writer. Oh, and I also help my husband with his small business. Some call me a Super Mom. I don’t think of myself as a Super Anything, but I do have a lot of insights and thoughts from my 15 plus years as a parent which I’ve taken the time to write down and share with you.

It’s very easy to get preoccupied with what others think of you as a parent. I know what it’s like to think people are judging you when you’re out in public with your kids. I know what it’s like to judge yourself when you’ve had a bad day at home with your kids! I think, “I gave up my career for this craziness?” I have experienced a lot of self-doubt, especially when my children behave less than ideally. If I’ve learned one thing from having five kids is that each child brings out another side of you that you never thought existed! And I wouldn’t change this life changing experience for the world. I may not have the most glamorous job but it’s definitely the most important job in the world as I gently meld these young children into our future leaders.

Now, I’m not here to give you a magic “Top 10 List of Parenting Do’s and Don’ts”. Instead, let’s take a look at how you can get to know yourself as a parent. You already know what you were good at before having children. But now that you’ve come home from the hospital with a helpless baby completely dependent on you, “worried” doesn’t even begin to describe the anxiety you feel as you consider the next 20 plus years of parenting that loom before you. It was so much easier to do whatever you wanted without people, including your child, watching you. Judging you. Telling you you’re screwing up or that you’re nicer at work than at home. So now what?

Newsflash: we all think we’re screwing up our kids at one time or another! However, I honestly think that’s a good thing. Why? Because it shows we’re taking this parenting gig seriously! It shows that we want to do a good job! It we didn’t care about how our children turned out, we wouldn’t care if we were “screwing up” or not!

That being said, I think we value other people’s opinions far too much. No one knows you and your child better than you do. People may judge, but they do so without knowing the whole story.

Stop giving other people the power to make you feel like a bad parent. Bad parents don’t care what happens to their child, and if you’re reading this, I know you care.

I want to help you gain confidence in your parenting. I want you to discover the importance of your job so you can set tangible goals for yourself as a parent. Do you have any idea how important you are to your child? You are their entire support system and cheering section who must also possess a multitude of practical skills from cooking to transportation. Raising this human you’ve helped to create requires far more than half-hearted, mediocre dedication. You must be willing to create a plan based on you. Your abilities, your values and beliefs. Parenting requires you at your very best.

The first step is to look at ourselves. We’ve got baggage as parents even before we technically became parents! I remember being a kid when my Mom would lecture me, not letting me get a word in edgewise. I vowed I would never do the same to my kids. So the first time I found myself lecturing one of my own children, I realized that something needed to change. In me. It wasn’t my child’s fault. This was my own “parenting baggage” that I needed to deal with. I needed to examine what my own inner child needed so that I could turn around and be the parent I wanted to be.

Step1: Parent your Inner Child

Before you think that I’ve gone off the deep end when I talk about parenting your inner child, I want you to know that you’re parenting style is affected by your childhood and the way your mom and/or dad raised you. That won’t comes as a shock to most people. Perhaps you are trying desperately to avoid the mistakes you were a victim of if you had an unpleasant childhood.

Either way, your childhood is a good place to start when you want to know yourself as a parent. You can think about what your parents did right or wrong, but what is more important is to identify what you needed when you were a child.

If you lacked acceptance from your parents, you will need to nurture acceptance in yourself in order to be a balanced parent.

If you lacked discipline as a child, you will need to learn to self-regulate yourself to be a more effective parent.

If love and affection was withheld from you, you will have to find a way to give yourself these things. We cannot rely on others, our children, or our spouse to meet these subconscious needs. We must learn ways to take care of our own needs rather than looking to others to meet those needs.

What often happens is when we have lacked something in our childhood, we tend to overcompensate with our children. If we lacked discipline and we have not learned to self-regulate, then we will be at risk for being too strict!

If our parents didn’t accept us when we were kids and we don’t nurture acceptance in ourselves appropriately, we run the risk of trying to be overly involved in our kids lives, yearning for their acceptance and doing anything in our power to earn our children’s approval. If our child pushes us away, we feel that same rejection once again and the unhealthy cycle continues. We can choose to stop by cycle by taking care of our needs first so we can be a healthier person and parent.

Bringing our childhood issues into our parent-child relationships complicates things. Don’t be afraid to seek out a counsellor or therapist to help you do this, especially if your childhood involved abuse or abandonment.

Step 2: Know Your Values and Beliefs

What are your core values? What guides you as a person to determine right from wrong? Your values will strongly affect you as you parent, even if you no longer claim alliance to a particular religion or set of beliefs.

It’s not uncommon for people to return to their religious roots when they become parents. Although a return to church isn’t as common anymore, examining what we believe and which beliefs we want to pass down to our kids is something parents must confront at some point.

Take time to sit with your parenting partner and discuss your current beliefs as well as your past beliefs. Just as the needs of our inner child can appear in an unhealthy way as we parent, parents who enforced their beliefs on us when we were children can affect us as grown adults. I know some people who have left the church as soon as they could and now they feel extreme hatred towards the church. How does your history affect you?

Is going to church something that is important to you that you want to pass down to your child? What about baptisms, weddings, and funerals? When you are invited to these events, be prepared to answer some questions from your child if you don’t regularly attend church.

Our values and beliefs shape us as people and as parents. Become aware of what influences are affecting your parenting behaviours. Decide where you stand and what values you want to pass on to your child. If we take the time to consciously make these choices, we will feel more confident in our parenting decisions.

Step 3: Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Ask yourself what you are good at as a parent. Are you patient, funny, adventurous, encouraging? Make a list of all the things that you are proud of and look at it regularly. Affirm yourself often and remind yourself of what makes you a good parent.

Next, ask yourself what your weaknesses are as a parent. Are you too strict or controlling? Are you too lenient? Are you bad at keeping your promises or making it to important events? Are you too critical? Are you too happy and your constant optimism annoys your family?

Use your list of weaknesses to see where – or maybe when – you’re struggling to meet your children’s needs.

My husband and I have very different parenting styles as I imagine a lot of other parenting couples do. While he is strict and rigid, I am willing to negotiate and I am far more lenient than he is. Sometimes he is too strict and rigid. And I am not too proud to admit that sometimes I let my kids get away with too much.

At times, your child needs a firm, consistent hand. Other times, they need to be allowed to negotiate with you. If both you and your partner are each aware of your strengths and weaknesses as parents, you can make a great team. This also comes by accepting your own – and their – abilities as a parent.

Step 4: Set Parenting Goals

Keep your list of strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs nearby when you consider your goals as a parent. Include things from each side of your list.

Wouldn’t it be great to challenge yourself to do more of what you’re good at as a parent while you also work on one or two of your weaknesses? But give yourself time and grace as you work on your weaknesses. Just as our children learn to fall many times before they walk effortlessly, so we too must not be discouraged when our weaknesses remain just that – our weakness. The goal is to become aware of your shortcomings as a parent. Don’t feel like you’re a bad parent. Rather, remind yourself that no one is a perfect parent, but we can still be an awesome parent who is constantly striving to become a better parent.

I found it interesting to realize that a weakness can be a strength when it is taken to the extreme. For example, my leniency is my strength but it can also be a weakness. One of my goals could be to know when I am being too lenient. Maybe this would involve withholding a final decision on something my child wants until after I speak to my husband. Chances are that he has a different point of view and he can help me work out a better option. One that isn’t too lenient yet also fair.

If my weakness is giving verbal encouragement, one of my goals might be to give each of my children one sincere, verbal compliment each day. It will feel awkward at first, but this is the nature when you deal with a weakness or create a new habit. Working a weak muscle feels awkward at first, but you gradually become accustomed to it and your whole body benefits from it.

Take time to reflect on your childhood, the parenting examples you experienced first hand, your values and beliefs, and your own strengths and weaknesses as a parent. Make your goals a mixture of challenging and do-able things that feel true to you and also show your child you care.

I encourage you to write down your parenting goals and review them frequently. Remind yourself what you’re good at on the tough days of parenting. And don’t be afraid to look your weaknesses straight in the eye and vow to get better. Be the example of a good parent you would want your child to repeat when they themselves are parents.

When you achieve goals based upon things that are important to you, you will feel like a successful parent. Once we know ourselves as parents, we will feel a lot more confident in our parenting abilities. Likewise, if we look at our children and figure out what makes them tick, our chances of connecting with them in a meaningful way increases. And that’s where we’re headed to next. Let’s take some time to discover the personalities of our children a little better.

#3. Essential Parenting THREE – Know Thy Child

Preparation – Know Thy Child

You’ve taken the time to set your parenting goals. Now let’s consider your child’s individual personality. We can have the best intentions when it comes to our kids, but if they are not receptive to the way we communicate and provide love and affection, we will struggle. And our kids will also suffer.

I’m going to introduce you to a few different personality typing models. You’ve probably heard of a few of these and hopefully you’ll learn something new today. With each model, I’ll add some thoughts on one or a few of my five children who are all very different. Because that’s why I had five kids. They’re my little test subjects and they don’t even know it! Ha ha!

Birth Order

Typically, the oldest born is thought to be a high achiever. They tend to be reliable, conscientious, and disciplined. First borns usually do well in school and end up in a very respectable career that would make Mom and Dad proud.

Middle children are often peacemakers. Because Mom and Dad’s attention is often focused on their oldest or youngest sibling, they have a tendency to look for more acceptance within their peers and they can be somewhat rebellious. I technically have three middle children and their peacemaking skills aren’t anything remarkable, but they are definitely more forgiving than their oldest and youngest brothers.

The youngest born child of the family is often the most free-spirited of all the children. They are often attention-seekers and can often be manipulative, especially of Mom and Dad. I know my older kids say that their youngest brother gets away with everything. I don’t see it that way, but I admit that I am a little biased towards my “baby”.

Good Baby, Difficult Baby, Sensitive Baby

Good grief, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if my baby was “good”, I’d be a millionaire! I never quite understood what a “good baby” was. That was, until my second child came along and I realized what a good natured baby I had had the first time around!

My first born “good” baby slept through the night by the time he was two months old. He hardly ever fussed, and he was rarely afraid of strange people or places. He was just…easy. I could set him down on the floor to play and he entertained himself – and us – for hours.

My second child wasn’t necessarily difficult, but he was definitely on the more active side. He couldn’t sleep if there was a light on at the back of the house. He tried to hold his head up from day one. He had a hard time falling asleep when he was in a strange environment. He often ate much too fast and he would cry until he threw it all up. He was much more intense than his older brother.

My third born child fit the label of a Sensitive Baby to a T. He cried at loud sounds and he cried if anyone shouted. He always wanted to be held. By me. He did not like strangers. He is still very much like this at the age of 11 although he is much more social now. I found his sensitive nature to be very draining when he was young because I never quite knew what it was that he was crying about. Some days, I just had to let him cry because I had taken care of all of his basic needs, even changing his clothes so that anything that he was wearing would be eliminated.

And now I know why easy babies are called “good babies”.

Introvert, Extravert, or Ambivert

Most of us know how introverts and extroverts appear in the outside world. Introverts would rather read a book than go to a party. Extroverts are stimulated by being around people while introverts end up feeling drained. Now with the term “ambivert” being talked about more, I see it as an acknowledgment that a person has both introvert and extravert tendencies, which most of us have anyway. However, an ambivert is comfortable either way. They’re good with a book and they’re content at a party. They don’t wish for one or the other.

I find it difficult to label my children as either introvert or extrovert. At home, they all appear to be extroverted. They’re all loud and energized by even the smallest stimuli. But when we’re in public, most of them act like introverts. They’re quiet and they don’t like to call attention to themselves. None of them really like large crowds or going to parties unless they know people there.

We act in certain ways according to the situation we are in. If you notice some situations are draining for your child, it’s your job to make sure that you provide them with the opportunity to refuel themselves. If they don’t give them that time, I would guess you will be dealing with far more behavioural issues from your child than you might otherwise.

Keep in mind that children’s brains are easily overstimulated whether they’re truly extraverted or introverted. As a parent, provide times of appropriate stimulation and times of rest. Times of quiet that lead to boredom is actually good for kids to experience!

The Five Hippocrates Personality Types

Hippocrates defined four personality types over two thousand years ago. Most people’s favourite type would be the sanguine. The sanguines are generally happy and sociable people with a great imagination. They are extroverts who are usually the centre of attention – for a good reason! Who wouldn’t want a happy, chatty Sanguine child? Although I do have one child who is very talkative and another who makes friends easily, none of my children possess a strong sanguine personality.

One of the introverted types is the phlegmatics who like peace and relaxation. They tend to be thoughtful and controlled. They also appear to be lazy although most of the time, they are observing rather than doing. But they are very competent in whatever they do. Two of my children have strong phlegmatic characteristics. They are fairly easygoing and laid back and they give off the vibe of having fairly low energy. It can be frustrating dealing with them because I know they are capable of doing whatever they want…they just won’t.

If you’re familiar with the term colic, you’ll recognize the choleric as being irritable and easily angered. Yet they also tend to be adventurous and competitive, a real handful for any parent. I do have one child who has the perfectionist tendencies of a choleric, but that’s about it. My children all tend to be introverted like I am. The cholerics are extroverts and thrive on stimulation.

The last type Hippocrates defined is the melancholic. They are the deep thinkers who prefer order and who appreciate details and work hard. They tend to be introverts and lack confidence in themselves. I see a bit of the melancholic in all of my kids – perhaps because I have these characteristics myself. All my kids are deep thinkers. Most of them have an amazing eye for detail – especially for boys. However, the hard work thing really gets in the way of being a teenager. We’ll wait and see what becomes of them.

In my research, I came across a fifth personality type that is based on the Hippocrates model. The Supine is both an introvert and extrovert, a combination of the Sanguine and the Melancholic. They feel their emotions very deeply and they love to help others. However, they are easy to hurt and they need constant reassurance. I strongly relate to this personality combination and I see these same characteristics in at least two of my children.

The Five Love Languages – How to Show Your Child Love

The Love Languages are a method of identifying how we show and receive love. Some people feel love through hugs and holding hands. Their love language is Physical Touch. The love languages are pretty straight forward. Their names tell exactly what they mean. The remaining four love languages are Quality Time, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, and Gift Giving.

I have found it difficult to determine which love language most of my children respond to best. And to a certain extent, they can change over the course of your life. Most baby’s love to be cuddled and they receive love through our gentle touch. As they grow up, they may begin to pull away. Fortunately, there are four other love languages that you can practice using. I think it’s wise to show our children love in each language from day one. When they’re in the elementary years, you’ll slowly begin to see two or three ways in which they feel most loved by you.

The problem I see with love languages in our relationships is that we show others love in our own love language. If the other person doesn’t respond – because their love language is not the same as ours – we get frustrated. So realize that how you show love to someone else isn’t something you will always feel comfortable with. You may really have to push yourself to show someone love through Words of Affirmation if that is not even on your love language radar.

I have known my third born’s love language from early on. His primary love language is physical touch. When he gets overwhelmed, I have learned that a hug does wonders to make him feel grounded. When I don’t have clean hands to hug him, I send him to his room to lie underneath his warm, cozy blanket. I know my youngest, my “baby”, is always up for a hug. I hope that lasts for a long time.

My other children are a mixture of primarily Quality Time and Words of Affirmation. They all love one-on-one time with my husband or I and who doesn’t enjoy hearing positive, loving words spoken to them? Perhaps someday they will realize the love language I understand best, Acts of Service, is one way they can show love to me! I won’t hold my breath…

NLP – Learning Styles (Neuro Linguistic Programming)

How does your child learn the best? Is it through hearing, through seeing, or through touching and moving? Why would you care to know?

My oldest two children soared through elementary school. Reading and math came easy to them and they continue to do well, getting good marks even without studying. However, my middle child struggled to learn to read and write. I couldn’t understand why. I did extra work with him at home and yet he struggled. What I didn’t realize was that he was a kinesthetic learner. He learns best by being active. Most schools want kids to sit still and not move out of their chairs and touch everything.

If I want to communicate with my kinesthetic learner, I need to make sure I get down to his level and make eye contact with him before I speak. Otherwise I repeat myself unnecessarily and we both get frustrated. He loves walking and talking with me but if we ask him a question at the supper table, his typical answer is “I don’t know.” He knows, he just can’t access that information very well when he’s sitting.

Visual and Auditory learners tend to do much better at school. They can see and hear the teacher’s explanations and it all makes sense. But the kinesthetic learner is at a disadvantage. If you can find ways to teach your kinesthetic learner that involves touching objects, moving around, or acting things out, they will have more success with learning.

Matcher or Mismatcher

The match vs mismatcher is an interesting typing. It’s a little like thinking of your child as an optimist or a pessimist based on the language they use. If your child is a matcher, they see similarities first and they tend to be quite agreeable.

A mismatcher notices the differences first. They are the fault-finders which you might find annoying, but it does have its purpose. Remind yourself that mismatchers tend to be critical thinkers and they are very detail oriented. If you have a mismatcher, your goal is to learn how to communicate with him or her. It takes a lot more thought and creativity than communicating with a matcher.

When I’m making supper, I dare not ask my mismatched first-born if he wants to help me make supper. Instead, I have much more success when I ask him, “Would you rather make the salad or boil the pasta?” I remove the decision of whether or not he wants to help. Other things you can say to acknowledge and lessen a mismatchers initial disagreement with a specific task or idea is to start with, “I know you’re not going to like this, but we really have to get your tooth in to see the dentist.”  A little creativity and sensitivity can go a long way with a mismatcher.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow was a psychologist who studied people’s motivations to meet their needs. He found that people first sought to fill their most basic needs such as food, water, and a place of sleep. If those needs were met, then they moved on to seek their second level of needs: security and safety. The third and fourth levels look at a person’s psychological needs – first, the need to have close relationships with others, and next, to reach a level of accomplishment that they are proud of.

If all four levels have been met, a person can reach the level of self-actualization. This is where one can reach their full potential and experience personal growth. Maslow predicted that this fifth level wasn’t fulfilled often – perhaps just one in 100 people reached this stage.

Most of us as parents have no problems meeting our children’s basic needs at level one. We also tend to do well with providing safety and security. From baby proofing our homes to bringing them to the doctor when they are sick, our children need to feel they are loved and taken care of. Those are the first two levels. Level three is where the hard part of parenting comes in.

If we can communicate to our child in their love language, we can help them feel safe and valued. We can provide them with a base for developing healthy relationships with the people around them. When our children feel safe, it gives them greater opportunities to explore their world and find out more about themselves and they can move on to level four where they begin to take pride in themselves and learn to treat others with respect. So we must give them opportunities to interact with others.

We also need to help them deal with their emotions. Rather than ignoring our child’s feelings or insisting they shouldn’t express their negative emotions, a parent should strive to value all of their child’s emotions. Helping our kids identify their emotions and teaching them acceptable ways to express themselves helps them to solve their own problems which is very empowering for them and helps them move into level four.

When I do personality tests on my kids, they ask me, “Is that bad?” when I tell them that their love language is Quality Time, for example.

I tell them, “It’s not good or bad. You are just you. This just helps me understand you a little more.” I don’t hold tightly to the characteristics of each label. Each child is different, and most children are often a combination of two personality types.

For me, realizing that I or my child has a specific personality trait helps me realize that some of our seemingly negative traits don’t have to be viewed as disappointing. For example, when my middle child’s sanguine talkativeness is beginning to get on my nerves, I remember it is beyond his control to a certain extent. I remind myself that this is his way of expressing himself and that he’s not intending to annoy me. Likewise, my own introversion can bother me at times. It can interfere with my ability to be a good parent. It’s not that I don’t like being with my kids, but I require frequent time away from my noisy, energetic children to recharge my batteries. We all have unique traits that make us who we are. They’re not good or bad. They just are.

Now that we’ve taken some time to discover ourselves as parents, our children’s different personality traits, and how important it is to meet our child’s most basic needs so they can move towards self-actualization, we can move on to look at how two different people – parent and child – can come together to have a meaningful relationship.

#4. Essential Parenting FOUR – The Results Are In The Plan

Preparation – Spot the Difference

Communicating with our kids, like the rest of parenting, is often an up and down journey. It starts off with a seemingly one sided conversation as we jump to meet every beck and call of our newborn and it progresses through the tantrums associated with toddlerhood, the good and bad influences that elementary school brings, and on to the tumultuous teen years. Some days we feel like we’re getting it right and some days, we wonder if we, and our kids, will make it out alive!

Knowing ourselves and having a better understanding of how our child thinks gives us a good start. At times though, our differences will work against us. As we learn to work together with our child, on good days and bad days, we learn how to adapt to each other. Even though we’re technically a family from the day our first child joins the family, feeling like a unified family takes time and practice.

Differences in each of our personalities can make communication difficult. Instead of clinging to the labels we put on our children (good, easy, sanguine, phlegmatic, first born, last born, etc.), allow your child to express themselves as individuals. The labels are only there to help you, not box you in with rigid definitions of each personality type.

It’s important to focus on the positive traits your child has and to look at their more challenging traits in a positive light. For example, the stubbornness of my child, although challenging for me as a parent right now, will probably be a good thing in the years to come.

Teaching our children about our differences should be done in a positive way. Children long to feel connected, especially to their parents. We want them to know we are all unique individuals but we can still be intimately connected as a family.

I mentioned the one-sided communication we feel we have with our newborns and young baby’s. This isn’t completely accurate. We do have a way to communicate with them. It’s through a gentle, reassuring tone of voice, kind facial expressions, and with lots of close contact. If we are able to attend to our baby’s cries when they are young, they develop a sense of trust in us that is the basis for all their other human relationships. Our touch, our voice, and our physical presence communicates love and young baby’s feel that from the moment they are born.

As our baby’s grow into toddlers, their feel a natural desire to exert their power and autonomy. If we are able to provide safe situations for them to feel in control of their environment and allow them to do things they want, our children develop confidence in themselves. They have the ability to make good decisions. Give them those opportunities! We can take pleasure in the fact that they are slowly learning to take care of themselves.

Children continue to go through different developmental stages as they grow. How we communicate and give them different opportunities to develop will shape how they turn out as adults.

Now, let’s take a look at how we can together work through some of the problems that are common in families.

Communication is a major key to having a good relationship with our children. Rather, I should say that “good” communication is the key. When issues arise and tempers get heated, it can be easy to get caught up in our child’s behaviour and we lose sight of the actual problem. If we can keep our cool and learn to focus on the issue instead of reacting to their anger, we give our children the opportunity to learn real life skills.

Communication begins with listening. Put your phone down, turn away from the TV or computer, and focus on the person in front of you. Perhaps they’re asking for a new toy or computer. Before you answer, take time to consider your child’s feelings as well as the options you have. This would also be a great time to teach your child about the value of money. Perhaps you can brainstorm with them to find out ways to make money for what they want.

Right now, I have a young son who is negotiating for a new Playmobil set. I think Playmobil is a great toy but it is pricey and my kids play with it sporadically. They are in a “playing phase” right now. My son has earned money through chores around the house but he was being extremely demanding that I order the set off of Amazon this very minute. I was getting frustrated with his attitude and I was tempted to focus on his rude behaviour and then I decided to try another tactic.

I told him, “Wow, that set is cool! We don’t have to order it today. Can we talk about this tomorrow?” That quickly diffused the situation and he was momentarily satisfied.

Another one of my children is begging to get a horse. We live in the city and we cannot have a horse. But instead of saying, “No, you can’t have a horse” which would likely only increase her obsession, we got creative. After riding an imaginary horse (a large dog house) got old for her, I thought of another option. Little to her knowledge, I happen to know that a nearby horse stable gives riding lessons to little girls her age. Imagine her delight when I suggested this option to her!

It makes me feel like a good parent when I can help my children get what they want. They don’t get everything they want, but they know they can come to me to discuss the things they desire and we will have a conversation about the possibilities. This might require brainstorming together and some creative problem solving, but even though they don’t end up with what they want, they still walk away having learned something and realizing that their opinion matters to me.

We can also use and expand our creativity when it comes to dealing with behavioural issues. From toddler tantrums to the manipulating whiles of a teenager, creativity and a sense of humour go a very long way. If you think not giving in to a screaming toddler thrashing around on the floor in the middle of the store is hard, try saying “No” to a teenager who promises to clean the entire house if you will only let him go for this one short sleepover to a friend you don’t whole-heartedly approve of. The Mom with a sense of humour might consider getting down on the floor with their toddler. The creative Dad might pack up a sleeping back and go spend a night at a seedy motel downtown where the company is less than ideal. Use humour and creativity to help them gain a new perspective.

Every event in parenting can have a teachable moment. You don’t have to take every single opportunity by the horns, but do take the time to figure out which lessons you want your child to learn. Rather than responding with a knee-jerk reaction to the more challenging situations, take time to consider your child’s feelings. Rather than demanding perfect behaviour, look at the actual issue at hand. Rather than saying “no” all the time, try your hand at some creative problem solving with your child.

The way you help your child deal with their emotions when issues arise creates good communication habits and creative problem solving skills. We don’t have our children forever. We will eventually hand them off to the rest of the world and the better prepared our kids are to deal with the people and problems out there, the better our world will be. The world’s future is in our children’s hands.

#5. Essential Parenting FIVE – Your Value Chain

Back to the Future

Imagine your family’s future. Your grown up kids have come home for the holidays from various parts of the country. Your oldest, once a difficult teenager, has matured into a professor and has just completed his first year at a respectable college. Your middle child, the easy-going, social butterfly, is working his way up the ranks as a news reporter on the TV station in his home town. And your last born, the child whom who coddled for as long as he’d let you, is finishing up his degree in Forestry but he’s thinking of making a go in the stand-up comedy circuit.

Each of your children are out of the house and living on their own. They phone you every week – and sometimes more often – and your relationship with them has never been better. All the worry and anguish of the first twenty years of parenting have nearly been forgotten.

Or consider a less ideal scenario. Your oldest, whom who battled with for 18 years, is out on probation. He just got a job as a night janitor at Walmart and things are rocky with his high school girlfriend, the mother of your only grandchild.

Your argumentative middle child was studying law but got kicked out of law school and is now working part time as a delivery driver while he trains for his chance to pass the firefighter physical exam. It’s not a bad gig, but it wasn’t his first choice. Nor yours either. You can imagine all the worry you will feel each time you hear of a deadly fire in his city.

Your last born is working as a salesman, living off commission, at a job he hates. He’s actually not bad at his job, but his passion is to get off the floor and into an office. He took some Marketing courses after high school but he got bored. The teachers were boring and the school’s technology was outdated. His plan is to create a Social Media Marketing plan for the company but no one takes him seriously. Yet.

You sigh. Your children are all struggling and you feel the weight of it as you sit around the table together and they each take turns picking on each other as you wonder what you did wrong. Not only do they seem to dislike each other, but you only hear from them on holidays or when they need money.

Happy Endings are for more than Fairy Tales

Each of these scenarios is just a product of my imagination. Although scenario one is ideal to most of us, the chance of it happening exactly as I described are not very likely. We all have idealized fantasies of how we want our child’s future to look as well as our future relationships with them. In reality, a mixture of scenario one and two is most likely. And it is possible that scenario two could conclude with a happy ending. We are, in fact, just dreaming.

It’s not bad to dream. Actually, do it. Go ahead and dream about how your relationships with your children will look like in 20 or 30 years. How do you hope their relationships with each other will look like? Are you involved in their lives? Are they involved in each other’s lives? Do they want you to be involved in their lives? Did you do everything as you wanted to or do you have regrets?

Instead of wondering if our children will want to come back to be with their family, create an exclusive family experience now based on the values you most hold dear. Start by examining the values you hold high.

Choose Four Values

If we can look at our ideal future family and look at four qualities it embodies, what qualities would those be? Which qualities, or rather which traits, do you not want your future family to have?

Maybe doing this exercise will prompt you to revisit your parenting goals. Are you nurturing these qualities in your children and family in an age appropriate way right now? Do you need to change what you’re doing to redirect the course before you?

Do the values you choose clearly define the behaviour you want your adult children to have?

The Family Creed

Once you and your parenting partner have decided on the four values you want to parent by, simplify your vision. Write it into a sentence or two that your children will find understand and remember. When tempers flair and patience runs thin, you’ll need this creed to get you through those times. Don’t make it so corny that it’ll irritate everyone in the heat of the moment. Make it something simple but thoughtful that will remind you of the most important values your family has committed themselves to.

Draw It Out

You’ve chosen your values and you’ve captured it all into one or two key sentences. Now is the time to introduce your Family Creed to your children. Each child is entitled to his or her own thoughts on it. One may love it, one may hate it, one may think it’s stupid. That’s fine. Ask them to close their eyes and think of a symbol to represent your family and it’s values. Will it be an animal or a sign? What colour is it? How do they view your family?

Brainstorm and create an image together that incorporates everyone’s ideas into a visual representation of your unique family. Maybe you have a young artist who can capture it into one amazing piece of art!

Reproduce your Representation

Now that everyone has contributed to a wonderfully unique visual representation of the family, it’s time to show it off. Display it proudly in your home where you will see it daily. It will create some great conversations with the various people who enter your house that might prompt them to do the same.

Replicate your family creed visual in a smaller form that you can carry with you as a reminder of where you came from. You’re a part of an exclusive club now. Don’t ever take that for granted.

Every December 31st, I force my family to write a brief year in review that is prompted by basic questions. I love reading them all, especially when I come across them years later. My kids change so quickly. In their hobbies and interests and also just by growing up. The time will come when the visual representation of your family creed begins to look a little outdated. Your children change and mature as do you. Take time to reflect on those changes. Have your values actually changed? If so, maybe it’s time to rewrite and revisualize your Family Creed. It would be an interesting process to go through every couple of years.

Start Today

A good child is often the result of consistently good parenting. A successful adult may or may not have had the advantage of good parenting. But it’s harder to mess up an adult who has had a good example set for them rather than an inconsistent, tumultuous example. It’s also hard to mess with a child who has a firm understanding of where he or she belongs.

If you want your child to grow up to have strong relationships with you and their siblings, it must start today. Not tomorrow or five years from now. Before you know it, it will be time to let them go off to college and your child’s most formative years will be behind you – and them. Take the time today to firmly establish them as a part of your exclusive family club that comes with it’s own family mantra and visual symbolizations of your unique family. When our children feel they are a part of something exclusive, no matter their age, they’ll know they matter and they’ll always be ready to come home to the security of their family niche.

#6. Essential Parenting SIX – Start With The End In Mind

Preparation – Letting Go

I have two teenagers in my house and the process of letting go and allowing them to discover their own sense of identity has already begun. In fact, it began years ago.

Your child grew from a newborn baby completely dependent on you to a baby who can finger-feed themselves. Then to a toddler who can put on their own jacket. To a kindergartener who hardly waves good-bye as you leave them at the classroom door. To a middle schooler who begs to go for a sleepover. And then a teenager who would rather be with his friends than with you. The process of letting go is a long one as we slowly release our involvement in our children’s physical lives first, and then our influence on the way they make their choices, like which friends to hang out with and what time they should come home.

In the end, we all want each of our children to grown into happy, confident adults. But the process of letting go will involve some grieving on our part. We’re trading in the security of a loving family for something we have not yet experienced! No longer will our children be less capable of us. They will evolve into our equals. It’s easy to see why this letting go thing is so hard! The unknown, untrodden path can be scary.

Allowing our children to slowly leave the safe and secure nest of home takes courage. We must trust that we have done the best we can. Allowing them to assert their independence while teaching them how to solve problems creatively as they arise will give us more confidence as parents as we slowly release our children.

As we have taken the time to develop a family creed based on our individual families and goals, we now need to let nature take its course. When decisions arise, we need to set the example for our children of how to use the creed and our goals to guide our decisions. This involves more than what we will say “yes” to. Teaching them what to say “No” to is just as important.

There are no bad decisions, just learning opportunities or feedback

Bad decisions will be made by both us and our children. Rather than feeling like we’ve failed as a parent, it’s better to remove emotions from these events. For example, if I got a speeding ticket, it’s easy to get angry and blame someone or something else. “I was in a rush because someone made me late!” or “I was just following the person in front of me!” Taking responsibility for our actions is the first step to using a negative experience as a lesson. Your child will watch what you do. They will copy your behaviour and actions before they will listen to your words.

What happens if our child makes a bad decision? Imagine a phone call home from their grade 4 teacher explaining that your daughter has been stealing food from other kids’ lunch bags. How can you teach your child to accept responsibility for their actions in such a way that will turn a negative into a positive? A lot of patience and thought will be required but dealing with it in the right way will help your child learn to make better decisions for the rest of their life.

When our kids make choices we don’t approve of, we struggle with feeling like we’ve failed as a parent. And yet, we must release them to make their own decisions. They must become a separate person if they are to develop a healthy sense of self. The goal of letting them go is to have them replace the external parental controls we give them with their own internal self-control. The sooner we give them choices, the sooner we can strengthen their ability to make wise decisions.

Practise makes permanence

Give your young children lots of practice with making decisions while at the same time helping them become aware of the consequences of their choices. Affirm the good decisions they make and express confidence in their ability to make smart choices. As they mature, allow them to get a glimpse into your life. Seek their opinions on some of the difficult situations you are faced with. You will build trust and connection with them while teaching them that making good choices isn’t always easy but a part of being a good human being.

It can be difficult to find a healthy balance between giving your child freedom while finding ways to stay connected to them. Children will naturally move in and out of periods of attachment and increasing independence and some days, we won’t know which way they’ll go. Teenagers need to separate from us and attach themselves to their peer group in order to develop their own sense of identity. Work on creating a healthy balance of friends and family time that gives your teen experiences with their peers while still honouring your family’s values and traditions.

The best way to build a solid relationship with your child is to begin spending time with them when they are young. As you begin the process of gradually letting them go, you won’t regret the sacrifices you made when they were younger.

#7. Essential Parenting SEVEN – Love Is Spelled ‘T-I-M-E’

Prepare – Setting Aside Time to Spend

At the sake of offending you, I’m going to tell you that you need to spend time with your child. A good parent knows this. You know this. And I know this. But how good are we, honestly, at spending quality one-on-one time with each child on a regular basis?

With the busyness we all experience, it’s easy to put it off. It’s easy to think that sitting together in front of a TV counts as quality time. TV time can be a start if your relationship is suffering, but if you’re dealing with a toddler, turn off the TV, put away the iPad, and get out of your house if at all possible.

The more creative ways you can think of to spend time with your child, the more it will help build your relationship. The more novel experiences you can create with your child or together as a family, the more memories you will have banked to recall years from now.

Memories Last a Lifetime

One summer several years ago, we packed up the whole family and travelled twelve hours away to volunteer a week of our time building cabins at a camp. None of us knew anything about construction, but we had a great time both on our travels and during our work week. I know we will continue to talk about That Trip for many years to come. Nothing amazing happened, but the entire experience was new to us and will probably never be recreated.

Quality Time in the Younger Years

The younger your child is, the easier it is to spend quality time with them. Even during the trying toddler years when you’d rather be soaking in a bathtub or having a nap, you have the best opportunity to create quality time with your child. Easy things like building forts and having picnics in the living room easily please children this age.

When children are in school, your time together becomes much more limited. Setting aside a few hours each weekend for quality family time may be the only way to make it work. Planning unique summer trips don’t always require breaking the bank. But it’s really all about the every day things like saying “good-bye” as you leave and greeting your kids as they walk in the door that can go a long way in building that connection with your kids. Eat meals together at least once a day. Any ways you can find to create good memories will make for years and years of sharing.

The Teen Years – Be the Rock

As your child edges into the teen years, it’s easy to expect the worst. The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a Mom of teen? Don’t take things personally. When I resist the temptation to be insulted by their behaviour, it makes our next interaction go much better. If instead I get angry and demand they show me more respect, it often makes things worse. The teen years are full or turmoil and hormones. Our job is to be the steady, unmovable rock in our teenagers lives. When they know we’re always there for them, the relationship will survive.

The teen years are a great time to begin finding mutual interests with your child. If going to a baseball game was a special time for you in the elementary years, why now see if the ballgame still brings you together? When one thing doesn’t work out for you and your child, don’t give up. The more time you spend together, the sooner you’ll find out what works for you and the more meaningful your time together will be.

Right now, my daughter has a Summer Fitness Journal. She is working to complete all of the weekly challenges. She doesn’t usually like working out with me like my other boys do, but she has discovered that she likes tennis and rowing by doing the challenges in the Journal. If I take the time to prioritize these activities with her, maybe she and I will be playing tennis or rowing for years to come!

Parent with Mindfulness

Above all, make each moment count. Mindfulness is a concept of awareness that has become more common in the past few years. If we’re constantly thinking about our end goals of parenting and raising a successful child, our moments together serve an agenda. When you have the opportunity to spend quality time with your child, let go of your agenda. Be in the present moment rather than focusing on the final outcomes. Your child can sense when you’re not 100% there and your relationship will suffer.

Even though deep down inside we know this stuff, I find that as a parent, I need the constant reminder to spend quality time with each of my kids. I easily get sucked into the day to day grind of parenting and work. I lose sight of the end goals and I lack energy to create quality time for my children.

My new goal is to look at my phone when I’m with my child…only long enough to turn it on to take a picture of our time spent together.

My new goal is to open up another Instagram account…so we have a permanent virtual scrapbook of our times together.

My new goal is to stop worrying about the future and focus on creating the memories I want to share with my child for the rest of my life.

My new goal is to be grateful for the time I have right now with my kids. Because when I’m grateful, everything can turn into a positive.–talk-teenager-Those-spend-time-parents-better-social-skills.html

#8. Essential Parenting EIGHT – Moment To Moment


Be Grateful

Spending time with my family usually leaves me feeling happy. When they’re all getting along, being with my kids leaves me feeling peaceful and relaxed. My kids and husband are the people I feel most at home with. They are my safe place where I can be myself. My goal is to create that safe place for them too. A place where they will remember fondly when they are older, and a place they will want to return to.

It’s Not Always Roses

However, there are days when being with my family is not fun at all. Being with them makes me feel less than thankful for being responsible for five children. At times, I have wanted to run away. I have wondered why I had five children. I have thought longingly about the day when my kids are all grown up, my house will be clean and quiet all the time, but that immediately leaves me feeling very sad. As difficult as it can be right now with five noisy, energetic kids, I know that I will miss the craziness when they’re all out of the house. I know without a doubt that I will want it all back to have them safe under one roof, all together, fighting, laughing, and teasing each other.

It can be hard to be grateful when you’re in the trenches of parenting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the diapers, the disciplining, the sibling rivalry, and the empty bank account. But I think we can all agree that a full heart is better than an empty home.

Become Mindful in the Overwhelm

Have you ever sat back and taken it all in when you were in the middle of feeling completely overwhelmed? Sometimes, when things are especially crazy at my house, I go up to my room because I need to get away from the noise. With time, I calm down, and I begin to listen to what’s going on underneath me. These sounds won’t be here forever. And even though I feel that five kids is still too much for me to handle, I am still grateful for each one of them. If you told me, “You only wanted three children, so pick three of them,” I couldn’t do it. There is no way, even hypothetically, that I could choose two children who I wanted any less than the other three.

Sure, I could tell you which three of my children are the easiest, or which three make me laugh the most, or which three are most helpful. But even my most difficult, ornery, stubborn, lazy children bring me joy and warm my heart. I know I wouldn’t be the same person without them in my life. Our family would feel incomplete without them.

When family life is overwhelming, I remind myself that it won’t last forever. That I will want this all back some day. I choose to see the things in those moments that make me stronger. All these things will some day just be memories. I doubt we’ll remember the little fights, but we will remember fighting. And getting over it and moving on. We’ll learn to forgive each other and we’ll learn how to communicate better.

Cultivating Gratitude in Children

Every night, we have a ritual of praying and saying what we’re grateful for. My gratitude list often involves things like “we’re all safe”, and “we have a roof over our heads”, and I’m always thankful for the modern conveniences of specific household appliances.

My children’s gratitude lists are much shorter, and more self-centered. If they received something they wanted, they’ll say they’re thankful for that particular item. But otherwise, they might only say they’re thankful that they had a good day. And sometimes they just say they had a bad day.

Can you be thankful on a bad day? Of course you can! If I have learned one thing as a parent, it is to be grateful as much as you can. I know that sounds difficult, but we can learn to be grateful even when things are tough.

Choosing Gratitude

As a parent, I can choose to be grateful when the fridge is empty and the kids have eaten all the food. I’m grateful that I have healthy kids who eat well. I’m grateful for a fridge. I am grateful that I have money to go buy more food and I’m grateful I have a vehicle to haul all that food home in.

I can choose to be grateful when my kids are fighting. Some day, they will be grateful that they have siblings. And look at all the opportunities they have to work on their people skills. Ha!

Gratefulness is a choice. When we choose to be grateful, it can change our lives. We go from focussing on the negative – what we don’t have – to the positive – what we do have. Teaching our children to be grateful can be a difficult process. I suppose it is easier for some children to learn than others, but in my experience, children are born selfish and they likely to remain that way unless we show them how and tell them why we need to practice gratefulness.

The Gift of Gratitude

We need to teach our children the importance of gratitude. Saying “thank you” makes someone else feel better. And studies have proven that grateful people are happier. But where does it start? It’s like the chicken and the egg – which came first? Does happiness lead to gratitude or does gratitude lead to happiness? It’s obvious to me that gratitude comes first, do you agree?

A grateful person has developed the ability to look beyond the negative things in their life and they instead focus on the positive. For some, this is easier than other. If you grew up with grateful parents, you’re likely to grow up naturally grateful.

I grew up with hard-working parents who were likely grateful but I didn’t pick up on it. They rarely expressed their gratitude although I was forced to say “please” and “thank you” and always speak respectfully to them. I think I was still a very entitled, ungrateful teenager. Gratefulness was not a practice, it was merely a verbal expression I was forced to say. My soul was not content and happy.

I still struggle with thinking things aren’t good enough so why should I be grateful? I catch myself thinking, “If only I had a cabin on the beach, I’d be happier.” Or, “If only my kids wouldn’t fight, I’d be a better parent.” I may be happier momentarily, but it wouldn’t last. It wouldn’t solve the discontent that is rooted in my naturally selfish soul.

Every Day Choices

Every day, I make the choice to look for the positive. I make the choice to either be content right now or wait miserably for my life to suddenly get easier. I’ve learned that this won’t happen if I just wallow in self-pity as a victim. I need to consciously choose to see the positive.

There is a trap in thinking that life will get easier when this or that happens. If we get caught up in that lie, we will be miserable and our kids will grow up to be selfish, ungrateful, and unhappy.

Be an example for them to follow. Choose to overlook the negative things in your life. This doesn’t mean turning a blind eye on difficult situations like illness or debt or loss. These things still need to be dealt with. But remember that whatever you give energy to grows. If you look at the negative, negativity grows. If you look at the positives in your life, you will see positivity grow. So choose to see the positive and express your gratefulness every day. Create a warm, safe place your children will want to come home to.

#9. Essential Parenting NINE – Sharpen The Saw

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Start Sharpening the Saw

As a Mom with 5 kids, I struggle to take care of myself. Many times I find myself frustrated and exhausted because I constantly put my kids’ needs first and leave no time for myself. Each time this happens, it takes me less and less time to realize that I not sharpening my saw. Perhaps you’ve heard the story…

A man was struggling to cut down a tree in his yard. He had spent the better part of a day working on it and his saw struggled to cut more than half an inch at a time before getting stuck. His neighbour walked over to him and said, ‘I can’t help but notice that you’re having problems with your saw. Did you try sharpening it?”

The offended man grumbled and said impatiently, “I don’t have time to sharpen this saw! This tree has to come down today!” He failed to realize that a freshly sharpened saw would get the job done far more efficiently.

The moral of the story is this: if you take the time to lay the ground work and take care of your equipment, it will save you time and frustration in the long run.

We Are the Saw

In parenting, we are the equipment. We make the difference in our child’s lives. If we aren’t in our best condition – physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally – the parenting years will be much harder than if we are able to find a way to frequently take the time to stop and sharpen our saws. To step away and take care of our own needs. Rather than feeling guilty for taking time to rejuvenate ourselves, remind yourself of the story of the man who tried to cut down a tree with a dull saw.

The Marriage Saw

Likewise, a good marriage is also able to stand up under the strain of parenting if we take the time to nurture it. This past year, my husband and I decided it was time for some marriage therapy. We took significant time and money to invest in our relationship which had suffered over our 15 years of parenting. We had not taken the time to sharpen our two-handled saw. Our communication with each other has since improved and even though our children are not suddenly angels overnight, we as parenting partners can now come together to encourage and support each other like we weren’t able to before. We still aren’t a perfect couple, but we are both happier.

Perfect is a Myth

Too often, parents get caught in the myth of perfection. There is no such thing as perfect parenting or the perfect child. We are not a parenting factory that creates and pops out cookie cutter children. When parents can’t handle imperfections in their child, it might be because they can’t tolerate their own imperfections. Other parents get caught up in their child’s lives, living vicariously through their children instead of allowing their child to be their own person. These parents need to step back and sharpen their saw. They need to focus first on balancing their own needs so they can allow their children be themselves.

A well balanced parent is able to step back and look at their life with a critical yet compassionate eye. They are able to gain perspective on their child’s life rather than get caught up in achieving a perfect family. When we can embrace our children as individuals worthy of our love and acceptance just as they are, we discover the rewards of parenting. The reward is not in creating a perfect miniature version of ourselves. The reward is being a privileged part of helping guide our children as they discover themselves and their strengths. Helping them learning how to be a grateful and generous person. And teaching them to use their gifts and abilities to make a difference in this world.

Continuous and Never Ending Improvement

Throughout the parenting of our children’s formative years, we can continually observe what is working for us and what isn’t. The goal is not perfection. It is continuous and never ending improvement. Today, you can be a better parent than you were yesterday. Tomorrow, you have the opportunity to be better again if you learn something today. By constantly seeking to better yourself, you give yourself the chance to achieve Master Parent status and you teach your children the very valuable lesson of self-improvement.

#10. Essential Parenting TEN – Become A Master Craftsman

perfect parenting

Be a Master Craftsman

A parent’s job requires skills in many different areas. We are teachers and we are nurses. We are Negotiators, Counsellors, Maids, Laundry Experts, Time Management Experts, Chefs, Accountants and Money Managers, Drivers, Storytellers, Decorators, Crafters, Multi-taskers, Monster Killers, Huggers and Cuddlers, and an all around Jack of All Trades.

Take a minute to think about a specific profession. I’ll use a Doctor for this example. Think about the constant exposure to practice the skills doctors must have. Most work about ten to twelve hours a day in their area of expertise following many years of schooling. They are constantly getting better and honing their diagnostic or surgical skills. Most careers require some form of continuing education, yearly training, or recertification to maintain or improve upon a person’s existing knowledge.

Treat Parenting Like Your Career

A parenting career with all of it’s many requirements should not be any different. Just because there is no one to oversee your qualifications and self-education does not mean that we should not have standards to maintain. Our children and our relationship with them will ultimately provide evidence as to what our priorities were when they were in our care.

How can we improve our parenting skills and get a little better each and every day?  Read books. Go to parenting seminars. Watch TedTalks on Child Development. Research personality and learning styles. Find Child Psychology experts that resonate with your core values. Join a church or organization that will encourage and support you as you focus on your parenting goals and family’s needs.

The DIY Parenting Philosophy

Above all, take all that you learn and decide what you agree with and what you don’t. It’s okay to make your own mishmash parenting philosophy. That is the good part about having this job – we essentially make our own rules. As long as you’re doing the best you can and improving day by day, you will make a positive impact in your child’s life.

Fifty or sixty years from now, you will look back and likely have a completely different perspective on parenting. That comes after a lifetime of experiences, something we have no yet earned. Think of the legacy you wish to leave behind when you’re gone. I hope that when I am no longer here, my children and grandchildren will say, “She was a hard worker. She loved us fiercely and she never wanted us to give up on anything. She didn’t believe in failure. She believed in always doing your best.”

What’s Really Important?

When I keep in mind what I want my legacy to be, my day refocusses. I question my actions and the the activities I choose. Is what I’m doing here going to better me as a person? As a Mom? Will my children benefit from this is any way? Priorities, parents. Priorities.

Set Yourself Up for Success

We all have the mental capacity to make good decisions for ourselves and our children. Stop stressing over what other’s might be thinking of our parenting or our children. Realize that you are fully capable of making wise decisions.

As parents, we make our own rules. It’s what we always wanted when we were the children, right? Instead of questioning yourself and your abilities, grab the bull by the horns! You have control, you set your goals, you are in charge! Remember, this is a good thing. Now you have the chance to set yourself up for a win.

Just like you reward your children for getting things done in their own adorable way that isn’t quite right as they learn a new skill, reward your own baby steps forward as you form your new, improved parenting habits. Celebrate the small things on the road trip of parenting – theirs and yours.

Calling You to the Parenting Mission

Commit yourself to setting a good example for your kids by setting high standards for yourself and your family.

Create a family creed with the help of your partner and your children. A creed with goals you feel truly reflect the kind of family you want to be twenty years from now.

Challenge yourself to get better every day. Research to help you with your parenting career and aim to get better every day.

Forgive yourself – and your children – when things don’t work out. The best thing is to learn from these experiences and move on, better than before.

Show your children that being a good parent and a good person means being grateful and kind, even when no one else notices.

At the end of the day, you answer only to you. Make each day of your parenthood the absolute best that you can.

Now…are you ready to be a parent?


Angela is known as supermum to her friends. She is a personal trainer and mother of 5 high spirited boys (yes, that defies the law of statistics). Her favourite quote? Great parents are made, not born. And through her writing, she wishes to impart the secrets that will help you to become supermum.