I have seen this question come up a zillion times in my internet searches and I have seen a ton of pins around this very topic. How can I be a better parent? At first, I chuckled a little because I thought to myself, if you are concerned with this question, you are an AMAZING parent already.
As I started looking through the posts, I saw tons of ideas. You can be more fun, you can spend more time, you can choose to be joyful, you can put down your phone, or you can give your kids more praise. All of these things are great but, it didn’t lead me to a place of being overly inspired. I am a mom of four kids, and is it realistic for my house to always be happy? Definitely not. I am ok with teaching my kids that everyone is entitled to a bad day, even them.
So, all of this research led me to this. How can you be a better parent? Well, you are asking the wrong people. You can’t ask other parents how to be a better parent to YOUR child. You have to, simply, ask YOUR child. That is how you become a better parent.
When your child is old enough to make decisions on your parenting, they will be able to tell you how you can parent them better. Of course, you will get the silly answers like let me skip school, let me eat junk food, and let me stay up late but, if you keep digging you will get to the good stuff. Their answers may surprise you. I know my kid’s answers were eye opening, but they also let me know that I’m not doing so shabby.
I actually did ask our younger kids the question too. Their answers were amusing but, I did take away some tidbits. Like when my daughter said, “play barbies with me”. I took this as; she would like me to play with her more often. So don’t be afraid to ask the littles too.
Here are some tips on having the conversation:
- Ask them the question at the right time. Don’t do it when they have had a bad day or are tired. You want to make sure it is a time when they will be open and honest.
- Get comfy. We had the conversation while hanging out in the master bed and winding down for the day. They are more open when they are in a cozy spot.
- Let them know they get a pass to be fully honest. Our son started with “this is a lose, lose conversation mom”. Not kidding. He’s eleven. I had to let him know that I wanted him to be honest and I would not get upset at anything he said. So, give them the pass to be honest.
- Let them know why you are asking. Be honest with them and they will be honest back. Let them know why you are asking them the question.
- Be prepared for anything they may say. Understand that you may not agree with what they say, and it may upset you, but this is not a time to debate. You are soliciting honest feedback.
- Listen. This can be a hard one, especially if you do not agree. Stop and listen. Really listen to what they are saying and what they are telling you. Give them the floor and let them talk.
- Thank them. When they are done, thank them. Let them know you appreciate their honesty and tell them what you are willing to work on.
I know when I had the conversation, I was very surprised by my children’s answers. They gave me a lot of feedback. It really helped me understand what I am doing right and what I can work on. But it also created an open and trusting environment. I hope that it does the same for you.
Just remember, if you are asking yourself that question, you are already an AMAZING parent. Don’t be hard on yourself. Parenting is hard stuff.
If one of the answers you got was to spend more time, check out some of my activity posts. The how to plan a family movie night is a winner!
-Kristy M., Mommy to Many