SUPER PARENT – to be one or not to be one?

A guest post from Stacy Kaiser, psychotherapist, parenting expert and author of “How To Be A Grown Up”

Stacy Kaiser

I am a parent and I talk to a lot of parents. After relationship issues and personal growth, parenting is the next biggest topic that I get asked about. That’s simply because being a parent isn’t easy. Our kids don’t come with instruction manuals and we aren’t always equipped with the right tools, ideas or patience to manage them. Add to it that so many of us want to be “super parents”! You know, a super mom, super dad, super spouse, super employee — and ideally all of those rolled into one!

Although most of us claim to know that this superior level is impossible to achieve (yes, I said impossible!) most of us still cling to the idea of trying to strive for some level of perfection. We want to get it right. We don’t want to mess up our kids. We want to do better than our parents did – even if they weren’t awful.

This desire to be fabulous and to hit it out of the parental park leads to development of high expectations – and usually unrealistic ones! We expect ourselves to be top notch, to make few mistakes and to raise near perfect kids. We even expect our partners to meet our standards. One might say — “I push myself because it makes me work harder” or “high expectations create higher results” — not true. Parents who expect too much from themselves are typically too hard on themselves and end up feeling drained and inadequate. These negative feelings ultimately impact our view of ourselves and our ability to be calm, flexible and happy parents — and guess what? A happy parent is a good one!

So… let’s talk about being a “good parent” and not a “super parent”. A truly “good parent” is not a perfect one or a super one. A “good parent” allows room for error and fatigue, they accept their imperfections and role model to their children that trying your best is important – and that no one needs to be perfect because no one CAN be perfect. That means that although getting out of the house on time is important, yelling to make it happen isn’t…or…that sometimes it’s okay for the house to be messy or the dishes to sit in the sink in favor of spending time cuddling on the couch or playing a game with your child…or …that a better birthday party than the other kid had at school isn’t important, but being surrounded by people who love your child is important…or…sometimes being too tired to entertain your child after a long day is okay.

10 TIPS FOR PARENTS WHO WANT TO BE “GOOD PARENTS”

1. Ask yourself — how awful is it if this doesn’t get done perfectly or right this minute? Can it be delegated? Done tomorrow? Or done with lower standards?

2. Ask yourself — what is the worst case scenario if this does or doesn’t happen?

3. Explore all of your options. Are there better, easier, more efficient ideas?

4. Lean on friends and family to help when you are feeling overwhelmed.

5. When you do mess up, lighten up. Beating yourself up only adds to the misery. Think about how you’d do it differently next time and move on.

6. Prioritize – do what’s necessary and then make sure to leave time for yourself, your relationship and your children.

7. Know when you are are overloaded or overwhelmed and do something about it. If you are depleted, you are no good to yourself or the rest of the family.

8. Assess your expectations. Check in with family or friends who will tell you the truth about whether or not you are being reasonable. If they tell you that your expectations are too high – listen.

9. Pay attention to the messages you send to your kids. Children learn what they live. They learn as much or more from watching you than what you actually say out loud.

10. Have fun. Sometimes as parents we are so focused on the “do’s and don’ts” that we forget that we should be enjoying our kids and our lives.

What they say is true, it all goes so fast. They grow up quickly. Lighten up and enjoy the ride!

In addition to being the mother of two girls, Stacy Kaiser is a psychotherapist, parenting expert and author of “How To Be A Grown Up”. You can learn more about Stacy’s work on her blog or on her website.