“Of all the jobs and professions in the world, parenting is the most important, difficult, and potentially rewarding. It is the only job that never ends; we are parents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months a year, every year. Even when children are adults, we are still their parent. We don’t make money by having children; we spend it. Our paychecks can’t be measured by material standards; they are hugs, thank-you’s, smiles, and seeing our child grow and mature.” – – Excerpt from The Parent’s Toolshop®
Parenting advice usually focuses on the challenges parents face, mistakes to avoid, and effective skills we can use. But every parent and parenting “partner” deserves a pat on the back for doing something positive, even on a small scale, which means a lot to a child. I want to make sure we do that here, now, and then.
Is there someone in your child’s life, maybe a coach, grandparent, daycare provider, or teacher, who has been a positive influence on your child? Is there someone who made a positive impact on you as a child or teen? Have you ever seen a parent handle a difficult problem skillfully? Ever seen children behaving well in a challenging situation? Well, speak up!
I want each of you to do any or all of the following things:
Pick up a phone or pen and thank a person who did something nice for your child or for you as a parent or child. Be specific about what they did and how it helped.
The next time you see a parent struggling with a challenging situation, reach out to them. If it would be inappropriate to speak to them, give them an understanding smile that says “Hey, I’ve been there. I support you.”
When you see parents do something positive, even if there was no problem – – in fact, what they did may have prevented a problem – – say something to them. I often whisper in their ear, “I really admired the way you . . .” and then describe what they did.
Several times, strangers have come up to me and either compliments me on how I handled a situation, how well-behaved my children were, or how well they got along. I can’t tell you what that meant to me, especially as a new mother. Despite my training and knowledge about parenting, I also feel insecure and unsure of myself as a parent at times. Because these comments mean so much to me, I make an extra effort to get over my shyness about talking to strangers to give others a compliment. (Yes, I can breeze through a media interview or speak to 200 people, but am insecure and introverted in social situations.) I encourage you to do the same.
If you miss an opportunity or want to share a story that will inspire others, send me a short one-paragraph story about a parent you observed “being good.” Now and then, I’ll include them in the column under a special “Praise for Parents” section. Here’s a story my husband shared with me recently:
“At the grocery store, I saw a dad in his work clothes with two young children. As they came in, he carefully spun the cart in circles and they were all laughing. Shopping with young kids can be an ordeal, but he found a way to make a fun adventure of it.”
I hope that you, too, will make an extra effort to have fun with your children. The years fly by so fast, so lighten up, and don’t take everything seriously. Look at all the blessings your children bring and the good times you’ve had. These are the memories and “emotional paychecks” that will get you through the tough times.
If you tend to expect perfection of yourself, it can be helpful to manage expectations of yourself. Daily affirmations can also help you reprogram your self-talk, so you can be the best parent you want to be, without expecting perfection, which leads to feelings of guilt when you are simply being human. Here’s an affirmation (and image you can print & post) to read to yourself; it’s an excerpt from The Parent’s Toolshop® book. If you are alone, read it out loud. The spoken word is far more powerful than a thought.
Declaration of Imperfection
I, now, allow myself to be an imperfect parent; one who makes mistakes and is sometimes
wrong. I know I have made mistakes in the past and am sure to make more in the future. That’s
okay. While I am not happy about my mistakes, I am not afraid of them. Instead, I strive to
learn what I can from the experience to improve myself in the future. When I catch a mistake, I
correct myself respectfully. I pick myself up and don’t put myself down. As I become a better
and better parent, I won’t make the same mistakes too often—but, I still won’t be a perfect
parent. That’s okay, because my goal is continual improvement, not perfection.
— The Parent’s Toolshop®
If you want more insights, information and practical tools, and tips about self-esteem, listen to a one-hour recording of a live workshop called, “Nutritious Appetizers That Boost Self-esteem and Avoid Obese Egos.” **************************Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is President of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. For 30+ years, Jody has trained tens of thousands of parents and family professionals worldwide through her dynamic workshops and hundreds of interviews with the media worldwide, including Parents and Working Mother magazines. She is the author of the award-winning book The Parent’s Toolshop®, and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds, plus other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.com.Reprint Guidelines: You may publish/reprint any article from our site for non-commercial purposes in your ezine, website, blog, forum, RSS feed, or print publication, as long as it is the entire unedited article and title and includes the article’s source credit, including the author’s bio and active links as they appear with the article. We also appreciate a quick note/e-mail telling us where you are reprinting the article. To request permission from the author to publish this article in print or for commercial purposes, please complete and send us a Permission to Reprint Form.