Better Parenting Starts with Improving Ourselves
9. Are you making time to parent?
So much to do, so little time. Probably the most common reason that kids don’t get enough support from the people who love them most is the stress of modern life. Many parents are simply doing too much. Long commutes, demanding work lives, home maintenance, and the competing demands of many important relationships (spouse, friends, extended family, kids) leave many adults in constant turmoil. Short on sleep, living a life that is scheduled to the nanosecond, they are stretched to the limit.
It’s not that they don’t love their kids. It’s not that they don’t want to do well as parents. They haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that giving kids enough attention requires more than a few minutes devoted to “quality time” at the end of the day. Giving them enough attention often requires shifting priorities and the conscious decision to put off other important personal goals.
- Take a hard look at your time and your life. What will really matter 10 years from now?
10. Are you under too much financial pressure?
Economic pressures also are a major stress. There’s no getting around it; raising children is expensive. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the annual costs of raising a child to age 18 starts (depending on family income) at $125,000, not including college expenses.
When paychecks don’t cover the bills; when parents can’t afford what they believe they should be able to provide; when one or more of the adults takes extra jobs in order to manage the basic bills, the resulting tensions can cloud the family atmosphere.
When parents are stretched to the limit, a kid’s simple request for field trip money or new sneakers can start a major fight. That’s not fair to anyone. Better to bite the bullet, figure out a budget, and deal with money issues directly. There’s no need to be angry if we let kids in on what we can and can’t do. Reducing expectations is better than reducing a kid to tears.
- Take a hard look at your budget and your expectations for yourself. Get financial advice and help if you need it.
11. Do you have the resilience to manage when disaster strikes?
Some people manage hard times better than others. The most resilient among us manage tragedy, economic disasters, and natural calamities with grace. Parents who have an internal core of strength are able to continue tending to their children despite what fate hands them. Some even find ways to draw the family closer together when challenged by what my grandmother euphemistically called the “vagaries of life.”