I don’t claim to be an expert on parenting, but I am a parent and I have learned a few things over the years while raising my daughter and studying parenting and child behavior. This led me to develop what I call CLEAR parenting.
- Communication and Consistency
- Love and Laughter
- Empathy and Energy
- Acceptance and Authenticity
- Respect and Responsibility
Communication and consistency. These are key elements and it begins earlier than you may think. Communication with our kids needs to be clear and consistent starting from the moment they are able to understand the word “No.”
Making sure to keep the lines of communication open with your child without passing judgment or guilt can be difficult, but it is the only way to ensure that your child will talk to you when the important stuff comes up…and it will! You want to be the voice of reason and the one they come to for support and information, trust me.
You’ve heard it before, “be consistent.” Be consistent and follow through. Don’t make empty threats, children learn very quickly when you mean what you say and when you don’t. The minute they find the chink in your armor, your goose is cooked!
Love and laughter. This is easy, right? We love our children unconditionally. That unconditional love is the foundation for good parenting. It’s important to remember that unconditional love does not mean that our children can do no wrong. This is where we can get in to trouble. It’s our job as parents to love them unconditionally—even when they make mistakes, but not to dismiss the mistake and make excuses for them. It is imperative to separate the act from the child and render some type of punishment or draw some boundary. This builds character and these are almost always teachable moments.
As parents, sometimes we can be stressed out and overworked and forget to laugh with our children. Laughter goes a long way in forming our bonds with our children. Whether it’s during a game of tickle or joking around, it is truly one of the best medicines. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself either! What child doesn’t love that?
Empathy and energy. I’ve added energy here because without it we are doomed as parents! It takes a lot of energy to raise a child. Take care of yourself so that you’re ready for whatever the day brings.
We must strive to teach our children empathy for those around us. This serves two purposes. One, it is an important quality for our children to possess out in the world. There will always be those with less or those who must struggle more in life for one reason or another. To learn empathy is to learn to connect deeply with another human being – a quality this world could certainly use more of. Secondly, they will learn self-empathy. Something we could all use when the going gets tough in life.
Acceptance and authenticity. Accepting our children for who they are and not who we want them to be can be difficult, but besides love, one of the most important things a child desires from their parents is acceptance. I tell parents that if you are having trouble accepting your children, they may need to look inside of themselves to find acceptance of themselves first. If we can’t accept our children for who they are, the relationship can suffer irreparable damage along the way and you may risk not having a relationship with your child when they are older and on their own.
Authenticity is one quality I think we forget easily when raising our children. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work. In fact, in my experience it can breed a form of contempt that no parent wants to feel from their child. Be authentic, even if it means being wrong. Show your children that you are human. They will respect you for it.
Respect and responsibility. These are powerful words and all too important in any relationship. Respect goes both ways. In order to teach our children respect for us, for others and for themselves, we must respect them first. Children learn by example. If we show them respect and show them that we respect others as well as ourselves, they will learn to respect you, others and themselves. Teaching them that they have worth and are worthy is the first step in teaching them respect.
I think most parents agree that teaching responsibility for one’s actions and responsibility to others and the world around us comes with the parenting territory. This isn’t something we start with our children when they are old enough to do chores. Sure, having some responsibility around the house and for the smooth running of the household is a good way to teach responsibility however, it needs to begin much earlier. Making sure that our children are accountable for their actions even as toddlers will go a long way during the adolescent and teen years.
Raising children to be well adjusted, productive, happy, loving adults is not an exact science. These are just some of what I see as the most important areas to consider. Using this template as a good solid foundation can help shore up and pave the way for the dreaded ‘teen years.’ That alone is worth it in my book!
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts about parenting.
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