As we usher in the new year, let us reflect on our relationship with our family, most especially our kids, and aim to work on the areas that we feel need to be improved.
Here are 10 parenting practices we can do, if we aren't already:
1. Listen more, talk less. Practicing good communication skills is never a one-sided affair. Take the time and effort to talk to your children as much as you can and hear what they have to say. By listening to them, we are encouraging our kids to open up more and make them feel that we value their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
2. Keep your promises. Avoid overcommitting to your children just so you could ease your guilt of failing to spend time with them. Only say yes to activities or things which you are guaranteed to fulfill. Once you have made that commitment, stick to it no matter what.
3. Spend uninterrupted quality time. Notice the emphasis on "uninterrupted"? Turn off your mobile phone, put down your laptop or tablet. With so much distractions these days, it can be a challenge, yes, but quality time is not just about being physically present; it is making your children feel that you value your time with them and focusing on them.
4. Avoid being overly-competitive. "I was not able to breastfeed my baby as long as she did…" "Why do they get to travel often with their kids?" "I wish my kids had better grades than so-and-so..." So goes a long list of perceived shortcomings as a mom or dad. Constantly checking on how well you’ve done your role as a parent in comparison to other parents will only lead to self-pity, doubt, and insecurities. There’s nothing wrong in finding inspiration from other parents for as long as it will help you become a better one. Stop comparing.
5. Look at the bright side. Try not to worry too much all the time. Your kids’ safety, health, and future will always be your top priority, but don’t let these stress you out so much that they become the center of all your time and attention. Constantly worrying will make you lose sight of the fun of being a parent. Instead, enjoy the present moment with your kids and focus on all the blessings – both big and small - that come your way.
6. Give your kids enough room to grow. Are you a helicopter parent? If so, then it’s time to stop hovering. Allow your kids the independence to explore and discover for themselves, most especially in school. Don’t get too involved in their lives to the point that it will prevent them from learning from their own mistakes. It is of course important to always be there for our children but it also won’t hurt at times to give them opportunities to move, learn and be on their own.
7. Read more. Cut down on Facebook or TV time and encourage your children to pick up a book. Create your own library of well-loved children classics, interactive and educational reads, and even heart-warming stories. Reading can also be a great way for you to bond with your children by telling them a bedtime story every night, or by scheduling a reading time with mom and dad. Needless to say, reading is also one great way for our kids to learn, discover, and develop new skills.
8. Strengthen your relationship with your spouse. A good marriage is a strong foundation for a solid family, and children raised in a home filled with love will feel secure and confident. More importantly, witnessing how much their parents and primary caregivers love and care for each other will teach them to love and care for others as well.
9. Do something you’ve never done before as a family. Come up with your own family bucket list and embark of new adventures. If you’ve gotten used to your family traditions and routines, why not try something out of the ordinary, like traveling to a place you’ve never been to, or learning a new hobby or activity together. This will further strengthen your bond and create more memories to be cherished.
10. Tell your children how much you love them. Say “I love you” everyday -- before you leave for work, when they come home from school, when tucking them to bed or even during random moments. Try to be creative in the ways you express your love, like writing a note, cooking their favorite meal, or joining them in one of their favorite activities. These may be simple words and gestures but their essence will definitely last your kids a lifetime.
Being a parent is no easy task. Even if you feel that you’re doing a good job or that you’ve been constantly trying your best to be a good one, there will always be new opportunities to grow and learn new things. What's most important is to desire to be the best we can be for the sake of our children.