Is Your New Year’s Resolution to Be a Better Parent?
We all have “those” days. You’re tired, frustrated, and harried. Your child is having a difficult day of her own, and she’s being a little difficult to handle as a result. In that weak moment, you blurt out hurtful words to your child. Immediately, your conscience goes to work. “Why did I say that? Why can’t I have more patience? This is not how a loving parent should act!” So, in the midst of your hectic Christmas schedule, you settle on your New Year’s resolution: to be a better parent. Here are some things you can do to fulfill your resolution.
- 1. Tell your child that you love her each and every day.
- 2. Ask your child about her thoughts and feelings and listen intently (not distractedly) to her responses. “How was your day today?” “Do you like your new piano teacher?” These and other questions help your child know that she is important to you.
- 3. Consider the short- and long-term consequences of your words and actions before you speak and act. (This can be tough to do at times, but strive to live up to this standard.)
- 4. When you are feeling tired, frustrated, and harried, count to 10, listen to relaxing music, exercise, do yoga, find humor in your situation, go to a private space and utter a primal scream, or exhibit other behaviors that will allow you to decompress and not take out your negative experience on your child.
- 5. Apologize when you behave inappropriately. For example, “I am sorry that I was impatient with you. I have had a bad day at work, and I took it out on you. I was wrong to do that, and I am sorry.”
- 6. Seek to balance justice and mercy. Is your child fussy and creating a scene in the grocery store? Justice may require redirection and possibly punishment for the poor behavior. Mercy may allow for understanding and nurturing.
- 7. Use your available resources to problem-solve. Do you need two hours to shop for your child’s Christmas gifts? Ask your babysitter to sit for your child while you shop; that way, your child won’t have a preview of her Christmas gifts. Do you need a little time alone to decompress and reflect on your day? Ask your babysitter to sit for your child while you are quietly sequestered in your bedroom.
- 8. If your child is school-aged, you will need to find childcare during school breaks. Consider hiring a temporary/seasonal nanny who can provide you full-time childcare during school breaks. Alternately, you can nanny-share. That is to say that you can partner with a family that may already have a nanny, taking your child to that family’s home each work day so that your child and the other family’s children can play together and be supervised by the nanny in that home. You will then cost-share the nanny’s wage.
By following these tips, you can work to fulfill your New Year’s resolution to be a better parent. No parent is perfect, but working toward that goal is a lofty and wonderful resolution.