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Parenting Effectively
Am I a Good Parent?

Do you ever wonder if you are a good parent?
Certainly if you are a concerned parent this question comes up frequently. Your child is important to you and you recognize that you have an important obligation to raise your child to be healthy, confident, and independent.

The first thing to consider is answering this question – Am I a good parent? – is to relax! Parents are people too, not gods. You are going to make little mistakes, even big blunders. They key is to recognize the mistake, accept it, and learn from it. Children are remarkably resilient. If you err, stop it, change it, apologize for it. You will be modeling flexibility and honesty for your child – two important values for them to have.

With this in mind, here are five key areas to master to be a good parent.

1. Listen. Children need to be heard. Take the time to listen and communicate in your child’s language. Your child will feel understood and trust you.

2. Be consistent. Children need structure. They want to know the rules. Both parents must agree on the rules so that your child doesn’t become confused. Until your rules become internalized for the child – that is until your child begins to believe the rules too – it is important that there are consistent and logical consequences for following the rule or breaking the rule.

3. Be a teacher. Remember that punishment usually only evokes anger and hurt in a child. Obviously, the goal is not to teach anger and hurt. The goal is to teach important values such as honesty, responsibility, creativity, sensitivity. Development of these values requires positive interactions with a parent. Liberal amounts of praise and love encourages the child to accept the values you are teaching.

4. Be a model. You are your child’s first example of what an adult should be like. Because they love you, it is natural that they want to grow up to be like you. Perhaps you’ve laughed over the cute way your child imitates your walk or the way you slip your hands into your pockets when you talk on the phone. But is it equally humorous to watch you child pretend to smoke a cigarette or to use obscene language?

5. Love. There are many ways to demonstrate that you love your child. Through listening and teaching and consistency and modeling you are showing you child your love. Buying you child gifts is far less important than hugs and kisses, private talks – in general showing an interest in who your child is.

Finally, it is important to remember that your child is a unique and a separate person from you. He or she is not an extension of the parent, but is as different and distinct as his fingerprints. If you take the time to be curious about who your child is, how they think, who they are becoming, you will have the opportunity to make a lifelong friend.

Sometimes families do need help from a family therapist. Dr. Kathy Marshack can help you. She is accepting new clients and has two office locations for your convenience. If you live in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area (or can drive to these locations) please call to set up your first appointment. See Therapy FAQs for more information. Please give us a call at (360) 256-0448 or (503) 222-6678 or email us at info@kmarshack.com.