By: Dr. George James
Is there a perfect way to be a parent? Maybe you’ve read all the books, heard all the stories and watched all the videos. At the same time, there’s a part of you that has tried to figure it out on your own. It is normal to oscillate between wanting support and advice to desiring to do it on your own and in your own way. It is almost impossible to be the best parent without help but, at the same time, listening to all the advice from everyone else could drive you insane. There is no perfect way to be a parent.
It’s not about being the perfect parent but being the best parent you can be. But how does one achieve this? It’s a blend between trusting your own instincts and desires while listening to the experiences and counsel of others. That can be easier said than done when the information you receive feels forced or out of your comfort zone.
There are countless decisions you have to make as a parent.
- Breastfeed or formula
- Private or public school
- Basketball or soccer
- Dance or gymnastics
- Time-outs or lecture
- Curfew or no limit
And the list goes on and on. Being vulnerable enough to listen to others can help you figure out the right mixture of ideas between yours and others.
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5 Helpful Parenting Tips for Both the Advice Seekers and the DIYers
- There’s No Perfect Parent – Whether you are a new parent or a seasoned parent, it’s hard to shake the thought that you should be perfect. There’s no perfect parent, which means you will not be perfect. That’s a good thing. Instead of aiming to be perfect, aim to be the best parent you can be. Work hard and try your best without the pressure of being perfect.
- Nothing Wrong with Listening – The first step to deciding if others can help you to be a better parent is listening. There’s nothing wrong with listening. The great part about listening is that it doesn’t mean you have to do what others suggest. But if you ignore what people are saying, you could miss out on something that could be very helpful.
- Trust Yourself – Your thoughts about parenting could be different than everyone else’s, but it doesn’t mean your ideas are wrong. Maybe your perspective on parenting is exactly what your child(ren) need. Trust Yourself.
- Maintain Your Boundaries – From the moment you first learned you were going to be parents until you become a grandparent, someone will have some advice about how to be a parent. It could come from someone you respect and love such as your parent(s), relatives, or friends. Even if you hold them in high regard, you have the right to choose whether to take their advice. If their advice feels forced or comes with guilt, maintain your boundaries. You are the parent and you can make the decision for your child(ren).
- Push Yourself to Try – Being a parent means you will have to try things out of your comfort zone at some point. Sometimes you might want to resist because it feels uncomfortable. But to be the best parent you can be could require stepping out of your comfort zone. As much as possible, push yourself to try.
Parental Advice, the fifth episode of the new web series Funny Married Stuff, highlights the dynamic mentioned above as a couple uses a humorous approach to discuss how they handle receiving parental advice from relatives. Check out the episode here:
Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation as the couple in the episode or you relate to the example above. Here are some steps you can take to discuss how to balance between being a parent on your own terms while taking the parental advice from others.
Dr. George James, LMFT speaks, counsels, consults, coaches and teaches people how to overcome difficult relationships problems and build successful happy connections. James has been a reoccurring expert on many radio, TV and online programs. He is also a reoccurring relationship contributor to Ebony magazine. James is a staff therapist and an AAMFT-approved supervisor at Council For Relationships. Find out more about Dr. George James at GeorgeTalks.com.