The joys and challenges of being a parent

Parenting is the hardest but most rewarding job you will have.

Parenting - it can be tricky. Often,'' our children are hard to understand. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, it seems that everything we do just doesn’t work. By learning more about children at each age and stage of their life as well as talking with other parents, we as parents can learn new techniques to make our parenting more effective.

There are two qualities that are most important for children and adults to develop. The first quality is to be strong. Children need to learn decision making, responsibility and trustworthiness. In return they will be better prepared to handle difficult situations that are inevitable in their life. The second quality is to be kind. Learning to love and be loved, to care about others and showing respect will create a positive conscious. These qualities can be taught and modeled on a daily basis just by being aware that this is your ultimate goal you wish to accomplish with your parenting style.

So what are some things you can do to develop that strong and kind child? Make sure you create a world that is safe and predictable. Children need to have an environment where they can explore and experiment with safe limits. For example, childproof your home so that they can explore safely and you can limit the number of “no’s” said in the home. As your children get older, surround them with good role models that give them opportunities to try new things with safe boundaries appropriate to their age. With these opportunities children will find that the important people in their lives are there consistently and treat them with respect.

If children are to become a kind and loving person, they need to see their world as a caring and sensitive place. When parents take the time to understand their children’s needs and are helpful to meet them, this creates a loving environment. Get into the habit of telling your child you love them at least once a day. Take the time to use common courtesies, as well as teaching them. If your home environment is unkind and selfish, where everyone is out for themselves, children will do what they need to do to survive. Often these behaviors are not loving and kind.

Michigan State University Extension offers a parenting program, Nurturing Families that is offered across the state of Michigan. The object of this program is to create an atmosphere in families’ homes that are strong and caring. To find classes in your area, visit the MSU Extension calendar of events.

When reflecting on how we are doing as parents, we can ask ourselves two basic questions: Am I helping my child develop into a strong person by setting reasonable rules and consistently enforcing them? And am I helping my child develop into a caring person by being loving and sensitive?

There will be struggles along the way, but your hard work will pay off. Reading about parenting, taking parenting classes and talking with parents who use parenting techniques you admire will help you be more effective. It does take time and effort but it is well worth the joy it will bring as you watch your children grow up to be healthy and happy adults.

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