It is OK to recognize one’s faults and short-comings. But blaming either your own parent(s) or yourself does nothing to move things forward. There must be something beyond the recognition of a lack of skills or tools. Parenting skills can be taught. Having an emotional attachment with a child is something bigger and for another time to discuss. For now I’ll focus on the concrete skills.
Doing the JOB of a parent means setting clear limits, boundaries, expectations. This means that you will not always be liked or appreciated and will even receive a lot of negative emotion because of the rules you establish. I am sure that most of us who are employers, supervisors, or bosses know not to expect smiles when rules and limits must be established. Being a LEADER means doing hard things, doing them well because it is the right thing to do, not the easy thing. Parents in today’s world often feel overwhelmed, exhausted, stressed, frustrated etc. etc. Setting rules and expectations is hard, monitoring and following-through with them is even harder.
Children often need to test rules to see if parents will really hold to them. This is normal and actually healthy…for the child. It is, of course, very unhealthy for parents who may feel unliked and angry because the kids just don’t listen! I tell parents that if they have a child who pushes-back that can be a good thing because it shows that the child won’t be bullied by others and may end-up being creative thinkers who don’t just accept things. This can be a very valued skill later in life.
Any rule or boundary needs to be consistently maintained. This means the parent, not the child, has to have a system for follow-through. In today’s world there are many electronic devices to aid in reminding parents to ask about homework/chores etc. It is not enough to give a rule or expectation. As Stephen Covey would say, “Inspect what you expect”. Follow-through, follow-through, follow-through! At first kids may resist, complain, and then test. Once they realize you will check to see if things have been done …properly…they will learn to comply.
It is also important to know that parenting is not a one-size-fits-all venture. Each child is unique and needs a slightly different approach. Some kids are very compliant and cooperative. Others children are strong-willed, and others have special learning challenges that require unique approaches.
Parenting is most importantly about the possibility of a wonderful relationship with a child that can bring more joy than can possibly be imagined! Setting proper limits and using solid tools can help enhance and deepen this amazing relationship between parent and child!