There’s a good chance that most people can agree on what successful parenting looks like, give or take a few ideas. However, it’s also likely that if you surveyed parents, you would get a wide range of opinions on how to achieve that status. Now, I won’t tell you how to raise your children. But what I can share with you is three ways successful parenting isn’t what you think it is. And here they are:
Successful parenting isn’t about:
1. Who is in control
You technically have eighteen years to teach, grow and support your child. And that includes setting standards and expectations for your child and holding them accountable.
And yet, it’s quite common to hear parents lamenting, “I can’t control my kid.“ Meaning, they are frustrated with their child’s behaviors or inability of making their child acquiesce to their demands.
The expectation of always being in control leads parents to struggle and worry when what they see in front of them seems to indicate the very opposite.
Now here’s the truth; as a parent, while you do have a profound influence on your child, your actual job is to set expectations of how you would like them to behave but that it’s up to them to be in control of their actions.
2. Making your child fit all your expectations
I think most of us parents have certain expectations in mind about who our children will become. And as the child grows, we check the milestone charts to make sure they are on track. Or we compare our child’s progress with other parents or with other kids in our children’s classes. Why? Because we have expectations of how we think our kids should be.
But what happens when our child appears to be “different?” Are we okay with that, or do we worry? Or worse yet, try to force our child to be something he isn’t just to fit in with our expectations.
Of course, it’s okay to make sure your child is on track with the normal progression of growth and maturity. However, it becomes a problem when it morphs into the parent being embarrassed, angry, or unaccepting if the child doesn’t fit into the mold the parents expect the child to fit into.
Most parents want better for their children than they had. And that’s okay. Unfortunately, though, for some children, that means being coerced into fulfilling the unmet dreams of the parents.
We as parents should be an encourager and guide for our child to become their own unique individuals.
Every child is going to be different and has their own dreams. They should be free to follow their calling—not those of their parents.
As a loving parent, if you can accept their uniqueness and work with it, you and your child will feel much better.
3. Raising perfect children
You can raise thoughtful, respectful, and loving children. But in truth, even if you have been the most successful parent out there, you will never be able to raise a perfect child. No one has. Besides, what would you classify as being a perfect child? A child who never talks back and does everything they are told to do? Or gets straight A’s and excels in everything they do? How long could this list go on?
Believing that being a successful parent means raising perfect children is a falsehood and harmful. There’s a difference between doing something perfect versus doing something with excellence. Children that think they have to be perfect set unrealistically high standards for themselves. And when they don’t achieve their goals, they berate themselves unmercifully.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting your child to succeed in school, in sports, and everywhere in between. However, when you get caught up in expecting perfection, it’s going to backfire, sadly. You have to find the fine line between wanting and helping them succeed and pushing them too hard.
Children perfectionists grow up to be adult perfectionists who will never be satisfied with their efforts no matter how well they perform. One might think of being a perfectionist to be positive. However, researchers are finding evidence of it leading to harmful health issues—both physically and mentally.
“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” — Ann Landers.
At the end of the day, whichever road you choose to take to become a member of the successful parenting club, I hope you will be able to say that you have done your best in raising your children to become the best version of themselves they could be.
The road to successful parenting is sure to contain some bumps and pitfalls. However, there are also many joys along the way. Sometimes though, we just need a little encouragement to keep going, don’t we? And that’s what working with a coach can provide.
I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you want more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call. Together, we can work on strategies to manage the stresses that family life can bring as you journey on to reach the goal of being a successful parent.
This article originally appeared on My Anxiety Link