The five musts every parent, child and family needs to be successful and happy – By Stacy Kaiser USA TODAY
I find it ironic that the role of “parent” comes with so much inherent power – and yet we, as parents, often feel so powerless. The moment our kids are born, we are granted the supposed authority and privilege of telling them not only what to do, but how to do it and when. Our kids, of course, have their own ideas and quickly assert their will and point of view – even before they’re able to talk!
In an ideal world, parents would be handed the best tools, skills and knowledge to raise their children, while children would have the understanding, patience and wisdom to know that – most of the time – good parents know what they’re doing and are trying to do what’s best. In this ideal world, there would be better-behaved children, fewer storms and greater peace in every family…
But it’s not a perfect world, and, as parents, we all have to get by the best we can with only the knowledge, skills and patience we have on any given day.
After many years as a therapist, parenting educator and mother, here’s my list of “musts” when it comes to parent-child relationships; the five most critical issues that can help ensure a more peaceful household, reduced stress for both parents and children and maximum functioning and success in all areas of life.
- Basic physical needs of sleep, good nutrition and exercise are musts for both parents and their children. Being tired, run-down or unhealthy means more stress, less patience and a much greater likelihood for conflict. If more car accidents happen under these conditions, more “people accidents” do too!
- Everyone in the household must strive to be calm, controlled and thoughtful – most of the time. No one is perfect, but if everyone is working towards these three goals there will be less fighting, more resolution and more time for happiness and fun. In an argument, most of us tend to “escalate” to get our point across. But elevating our voice, feelings and actions only serves to create tension and make the other person either push back or tune out altogether. Think about it – what’s your first inclination when someone raises their voice or acts out towards you?
- All members of a family must be on their best behavior in public and in private. Most of us can relate to being on our best behavior in public and then letting loose at home; but your standards and your child’s should be the same in both places. If I had a nickel for every time a parent told me their child is great at school, at a friend’s house, wherever – but behaves badly at home… well, let’s just say I’d have a lot of nickels! Guess what? Our kids think the same thing about us! It’s certainly easier to be kind and patient with our own friends or someone’s else’s kid. But we should all strive to put our best foot forward at all times – behind closed doors or in front of them.
- Every member of a family must agree to disagree sometimes and compromise to reach common ground. What almost happened to our government (the barely averted shutdown) happens in families all the time: parents disagree with each other or their children, tensions rise, and it seems there is no way to come to a peaceful resolution. Letting go of the need to win does not mean a loss of power. Allowing for a compromise ensures that your family and household can continue to function.
- Abuse, violent behavior and acting out must be abolished. No hitting, screaming, throwing, kicking, cursing, etc. – this must be a non-negotiable house/life rule. Despite what you see every time you turn on the computer or TV these days – kids and parents screaming and/or otherwise harming one another, celebrities behaving badly – there needs to be a mandate in every home that physical and emotional safety and security are a must for everyone. I believe children learn what they live, and it’s our obligation as adults to teach them to control inappropriate impulses, treat both those we love and dislike with respect and to behave with dignity and honesty. We must be the people we’d like our children to become and raise them in an environment that is safe and secure.