In Part 1 of “Find Your Inner Parenting Compass”, I talked about how difficult it is today as parents to figure out the right way to raise our children with all the contradicting advice out there.
Today, I’m writing about how to find your own voice. How to look within instead of looking to experts or following some dogmatic, rigid parenting philosophy (hint: any philosophy that tells you this is the only way to parent and everyone else is ruining their kid is, in my opinion, probably something to stay away from).
This involves digging deeper than just repeating how you were raised. It means making conscious decisions about how you want to guide your child toward becoming an adult.
When parents ask me if what they are doing is right, I often encourage parents to reflect on their parenting decisions by asking questions such as the following:
- Is this working? In other words, is what I am doing causing the desired behavior change in my child?
- Are there any possible negative effects to what I’m doing? (this can include shame, lowered self-esteem, too much dependence on adults)
- What is my child learning from this?
- How is my child reacting emotionally? (withdrawing, upset, angry)
- Can I see this situation through to the end? (for example, is it actually realistic to continue, does this punish me or someone else in the household more than the child)
- Am I doing this from a place of love and respect or from a desire to control? Sometimes we get stuck feeling we can’t let children “get away with” something and we must punish them and show them we are the adults, when in reality the punishment does little to teach the child or guide them on what to do in the future. You do not need to play “an eye for an eye” with your child or get into pointless power struggles.
- Is my child developmentally ready for what I am asking them to do? Sometimes resistance is your child’s way of telling you they aren’t ready.
So by asking yourself these questions, you can often come up with your own answers to help guide you in this parenting journey. Experts are great for providing knowledge of child development and tools that work with most kids, but ultimately you are the one with your child every day who knows them best! Take time to reflect on your parenting and find the path that works best for you and your family.