How do you describe the parenting job? I looked for one word to describe the parenting job. I settled on “intricate” when I read Webster ‘s definition: something hard to understand because it’s full of puzzling parts and details. I can think of no other job that requires you to be more flexible and open-minded, or demands that you stay alert and focused day after day.
How Do You Solve the Puzzle?
As intricate and complicated as the parenting job is, not enough people spend time creating a “parenting plan". A “parenting plan” is figuring out in advance how you will handle misbehavior and discipline issues. A good “plan” also lays out how you will instill the values that are important to you in your children.
The first step to this process is to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Once you recognize the areas where you are succeeding, and identify the areas where you need to make changes, you can focus on finding answers and learning new skills, and creating your own “parenting plan".
How Do You get Started?
I’ve developed a fun quiz that will help you locate your strengths and weaknesses in the current way you parent. It will help you see yourself more clearly.
Find a quiet corner and take this quiz. Be honest and thoughtful. The answers may surprise or even embarrass you, but reviewing them can help you analyze and improve your parenting style, and get you on the road to creating a successful “parenting plan".
Are each of these statements Usually True or Usually False?
1. Our house is a gathering place for the neighborhood kids - True or False
2. My children have daily chores - True or False
3. Throughout the day, I give my child choices, instead of always giving orders - True or False
4. My children are in bed at the same time almost every night - True or False
5. My kids use “Please” and “Thank you” when they talk to me - True or False
6. I use “Please” and “Thank you” when I talk to my kids - True or False
7. My instructions tend to be brief and specific (I don’t lecture) - True or False
8. I don’t give in to a child’s nagging, whining and pleading - True or False
9. We have specific family rules and everybody in the family knows them - True or False
10. When I say it, I mean it. My kids know this and they do as I ask - True or False
11. My kids clean up their own messes - True or False
12. Our family eats dinner together - True or False
13. I trust my children - True or False
14. I am consistent in the things that I say “no” or “yes” to - True or False
15. When a problem occurs, we address it, solve the problem, and then it’s over - True or False
16. I compliment my children at least twice as often as I criticize them - True or False
17. I’m involved in PTA or other school activities - True or False
18. The first things I say to my children in the morning are pleasant and loving - True or False
19. The last words I say to my children at night are pleasant and loving - True or False
20. I learn about parenting by reading books and articles or by taking classes - True or False
These statements reflect parenting skills that together create a strong parenting plan. The best answer to each of these questions is “Usually True”. Take some time to ponder any statement to which you have answered “Usually False”. Ask yourself why the preferred answer is True. Determine what changes you can make in your family to better reflect the concepts presented in each statement.
Sometimes the decisions we make when parenting our children are not really decisions at all – but more like knee-jerk reactions. It takes time and effort to create and follow a good parenting plan. It’s well worth the effort, since a good plan will make your daily decisions easier and help you be more consistent with your kids. The end result is: calmer parents and well-behaved children.
Elizabeth is the author of The No-Cry Solution series of parenting books. (Reprinted by permission of Elizabeth Pantley, author of Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips, copyright 1999; and Kid Cooperation, How to Stop Yelling, Nagging, Pleading and Get Kids to Cooperate, copyright 1999, by Elizabeth Pantley.) For more information, visit www.pantley.com/elizabeth/.
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