Happy New Year to you and your family. As an outpatient therapist working with children, teens and adults, I am reminded on an almost daily basis of the impact of parents’ actions on their children; some are for the good and some are definitely not. Unless a parent/caregiver is willing to take the time to reflect on what he or she does or says any given day, a child’s development and future will be in jeopardy.
The following are additional reflections and resources to help you as parents and caregivers to be more proactive and present in your approach to being a healthier family.
- Acknowledge that life is hard and sometimes it truly sucks (excuse my crassness). Life is not fair and you risk setting your children to think otherwise. And the flipside is that life is sometimes quite grand and can be a most amazing adventure that anyone could imagine!
- Teach your children what it means to be human; yes, fully human with the tears of joy vs. tears of sorrow, the blood from a lost tooth vs. blood lost from ripped skin, the heart racing from excitement vs. the heart racing from fear, etc. Learning how to live with the wide range of feelings whether comfortable or not are crucial to healthy emotional development for yourself and your children.
- Remember that you are NOT alone in learning how to be a parent/caregiver. We are all born into families and experience the challenges of getting along and growing up together. It is up to you to take the risks to seek supports and to be vulnerable with fellow parents/caregivers. It could be a breath of fresh air for you to know someone else knows what it is like to be in your shoes. You might also be blessed with some pointers to help preserve your sanity.
- Maintain a sense of perspective. All things in life are time sensitive and subject to change. As my mother used to say when feeling out of sorts, “This too shall pass.”
- Consider whether you are setting the example of what you are expecting of your children. It becomes a double standard or mixed message if you have a messy room yet expect your child’s room to be spotless, if you use colorful language to express yourself yet expect your child to speak respectfully at all times, if you don’t tell the truth or withhold information yet discipline your child for lying or telling half truths.
What are your experiences as parents or caregivers in putting these into practice? I would love to hear back from you.