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Parenting tips, do not try to be a perfect parent!
Let’s face it; life is difficult, to be a human being is difficult, and to be a parent is even more difficult! Because in parenting you don’t only have yourself to consider, there is also another part; your child or children! I have come to this conclusion; You can never be a perfect parent. The only thing you can do is to try to ensure that you cause your children as little damage as possible!
When I became a parent I said to myself: my child is going to get all the things I never got when I was a child! And she is going to be all the things I never where as a child; brave, confident, have good self-esteem and of course be a happy child. And I will be the understanding, patient, present and perfect parent, and I will certainly not do the same mistakes as my parents did when I grew up! And most parents probably think the same!
But I already know that I have failed in so many areas as a parent and there are probably also many things I did wrong that I am not aware of! The only one who knows or will know is my daughter and sadly enough, she is going to have to struggle with those issues half her life or more. And when she has come a bit on her way to know who and how she is and why, maybe I will not be around anymore because those things takes time. So I might not even be able to listen to her complains, her questions or to help her understand things that she is wondering about.
Because no matter how good your intentions as a parent are, you can never be perfect! We all have our flaws and shortcomings and it will affect our children. How much depends on the children. If you have several children your parenting will affect your children in different ways. Some people are more sensitive than others, and siblings can be totally different. So there is no way to ensure that you don’t harm your children, and in some cases harm them for life!
Some examples from my own life!
I will give you some examples from my own life. I grew up in a family with a quite, kind but absent father, since he was the wage earner, and a string, dominant mother who where in charge of the household and for the upbringing of us three children. My father had his own firm, an electronic store, in the basement. Even though he was in the house he was still absent because he was busy with customers during the day and repaired TV:s and other electronic devices during the evenings and weekends. Looking back, I can see that they did struggle to get it all together; the firm, the house that needed maintenance, the garden that needed to be in perfect fit in order to impress the neighbours, up bringing of three children and a constant bad economy. There wasn’t so much laughter in the house, and as children we knew that we where an extra burden on top of their busy life. My father was always tired (no wonder) and my mother was constantly nagging on my father because of his absence (no wonder about that either). If me or my siblings made something wrong our mother yelled at us, beat us with her hands or some available items, or just sighed and sometimes even burst into tears. But most of the time she was angry at something. And all our short-comings and faults where reported to her friends on the phone, which was her way to cope I suppose, by ventilate her problems.
Not an environment where you get self-confident and learn great social skills! I can also see now that this has influenced us three children in totally different ways. But we all have our issues and suffer from our upbringing. As a middle child with one older sister and one younger brother I think I am the one with fewer problems than my siblings.
My older sister was the one that was supposed to be the best and the wisest of us three, since she was oldest, and got the blame for many things that wasn’t her fault. She was also much more sensitive than me and my brother. Because expectations for her were too high, she managed to fall short of them most of the time, which resulted in a very low self-esteem and a feeling of never quite being good enough. And my younger brother was spoiled rotten in the sense that he didn’t have to take any responsibility at all or help out. He was always the youngest and also a boy which meant that he got away with almost everything. This has resulted in him being asocial and sort of don’t fit in anywhere because he lack social competence. He also thinks he is better than everybody else and has very little empathy and understanding for others. Maybe he is the one with worst problems because he isn’t even aware that he has problems! As for myself I was treated somewhere in between. And it resulted in a little bad self-confident, shyness but still with a strong believe in my own ability. As a middle child I also learned how to adjust to my surroundings and behave with different kind of people.
So from this and other observations I know perfectly well how parents shouldn’t be or how not to treat children in my opinion! That is a great start but it is only a start. Then the work remains where you have to be aware of who you are and why. And to get to know yourself and what issues you have and address them takes time, lots o time and life experience and some deep scrutinising of yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not blame my parents for my childhood. They both did the best they could under the circumstances and the times. And I know that they loved us very much. Children were supposed to be noticed as little as possible, children’s opinions weren’t counted for much and children should only know how to behave, to be polite, and do well in school. That is how it was and my parents weren’t the type of people that wanted to be different than others. In fact, it was the opposite really! To have a good facade on the outside and look as if you where successful and proper in front of the neighbours was number one of important things for my mom. I remember the first time I spent the night away from home without permission in my teenage years and came home in a car driven by an older boy at seven a clock in the morning and met my angry mother in the hall yelling;
“How dare you embarrass me like this?” “What will the neighbours say?”
“ I am so ashamed by you, Aunt Hildur is out in the garden!”
And so on. (Aunt Hildur, our next door neighbour, was indeed in her garden this early morning and saw my entrance!) My mother didn’t say a word of concern for my welfare, no questions if I have been up to something bad or been drinking or if something had happen. That didn’t matter really, not now when I was safe and home. Our neighbour’s opinion was the most important thing.
But let us continue, now that I know how I don’t want to be as a parent comes the next problem; my own personality! I am not a perfect person! So how can I be a perfect parent?
I will tell you: I can not! And to the complicated equation we also have to add my husband’s childhood and his shortcomings and personality. And do you know what; he isn’t perfect either!
Even though I love my daughter dearly I have to say that she is not perfect! And that is more a good thing than a bad thing in my opinion. To be a perfectionist is more like having a mental disorder!
Here are some parenting tips on how to be a parent that isn’t perfect!
Minimize the damage!
Accept that even if you do the best you can you will do some harm to your child/children. The only thing you can do is to try and minimize the damage!
Your children isn´t you!
Do not try to compensate for your own childhood by giving all the things to your child that wasn’t given to you in your childhood. Your child is a totally different person than you and you don’t even know if your child needs those things or if she/he wants them!
You shouldn’t repeat serious mistakes that you are aware of are totally wrong but your child is another human being with another personality and you are not your parents.
Be who you are!
Do not try to be something you don’t is because it would look good or be accepted in your social surroundings. If you don’t want to be a soccer mom and follow the children’s soccer team in rain and sunshine on your precious little spare time - don’t do it! Explain to your child that you love them but that you have the right to some spare time yourself where you can devote yourself to your interests. If you don’t have the happy personality and love to arrange the best birthday parties or be a brilliant class mom, don’t do it! Try and find other ways to celebrate or ask help from someone who is good at it. Your child will notice that you fake it anyway and will probably feel like it is his/her´s fault that you force yourself to do things that you don’t want. But either way, ask your child first what he/she wants. Maybe they don’t want to have a big birthday party anyway. I wonder how many children at the age of tree or four years wants to have spectacular birthday parties?
And if you have to be a class mom, be a class mom after your own abilities and settle with that.
Accept that nothing is going to be as you expected!
You can’t be prepared and have all the answers in every situation that arise in a child’s life. No matter how many books you read or how many advices you get from other parents and how many questions you ask; you will not be prepared! You will have to improvise and solve things as they come. Sometimes you will make the wrong decisions and sometimes you will be brilliant. But when you fail and feel you have done wrong against your child; tell them you are sorry that it ended up like it did, but also point out that now we have both learned something from this event and we will try to do it right the next time.
Do not have high expectation of yourself!
There are high demands and expectations everywhere in our society. We are supposed to be successful at all levels, look good and perform excellent both in our carrier and at home. We strive for better and bigger without consideration if we need it or not. So it is natural that we also have high expectations on ourselves as parents. Maybe you have decided that you should never shout at your child, that you will be the patient parent that explain and explain without ever raising your voice, that you will calmly and with a smile pick up your sweet little screaming child from the floor in the grocery store in front of the candy shelves because she/he isn’t allowed candy that day, that you will go to all your child’s activities with a smile, or never miss out on a parents meeting, never miss a school excursion, never miss to pack their gymnastic bag etc! Puh!
That sort of parents does not exist!
Show that you are not perfect! Be human!
Let your children see that you are not perfect. Show them that you are angry, miserable, sad funny and happy. And show them that you fail now and then and that it is ok. By showing your child that you are not perfect they learn that they don’t need to be either. Let them fail without it being the end of the world. It is human to fail on our way of learning. How on earth are we suppose to be successful if we don’t are allowed to fail as we try? They don’t need to get all right at the exams and they don’t need to live up to others expectations. The only thing they need to do is to try after their own ability, that is quite enough even if it isn’t the best or perfect. If they have the possibility to get all right at the exams it is very good and in that case you should encourage them towards that by assisting with their homework.
We can only do the best we can as parent from our own ability. Good luck and stay human!
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