Being A Successful Parent

successful parenting

The other day my wife commented on how the Success Mint blog has yet to discuss health and family. It’s mostly been about work and business. And yet the topic categories are right there at the top of the homepage. I guess I’ve been a bit reluctant for fear that you, the reader, are more interested in “business-y success” topics.

However, the reason I put those topics up there in the first place is because I believe that success cannot be just about business and money – it is about an overall successful life – both personal and professional. And perhaps one of the most potentially rewarding or disappointing part of any adult’s life is their role as a parent.

I came late to the parenting game – I actually thought that boat had sailed and it wasn’t going to happen for me. Now, here I am the father of an incredible 10 year old boy and the foster dad to a wonderful 5 year old boy. (You can see them on the About page).  Being a foster parent has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Someday I will write about the experience.

Since becoming a parent, I have been very interested in the parenting advice out there – and there is sure plenty of it. Some rings true for me – some doesn’t. And some really stand out. Recently I spoke with family therapist Jay Scott Fitter, who wrote a book called Respect Your Children and he said something startling:

“The vast majority of parents don’t respect their children. I think that they respect their children’s friends more than they do their own children.”

What he means is that if your child’s friend comes to your home, you’ll be kind and respectful to them. And if they misbehave while they are at your house, you will probably continue to be respectful, even-handed and control your temper. (Perhaps this is partly so the kid doesn’t go back to his or her parents and tell them how mean you are).

Yet, when you are alone with your own child you are more likely to yell and scream at them and order them around in a way you would not and could not do with anyone else on the planet. At least not without some serious consequences and perhaps a punch in the mouth.

Think about it, if you get angry at your boss, you’re not going to say, “Don’t be so stupid – you don’t know what you’re talking about, shut up when I’m talking.”  You’re going to hold your tongue, speak respectfully and say what you need to say so you don’t get fired. Yet, when parents get angry and frustrated with their kids, that kind of talk flies easily off the tongue. As Jay says:

“The problem is at home there’s a sense of… if I get angry I can just let loose with whatever is on my mind.”

Unfortunately, you pay a price for that. When you say something horrible to your child because you are angry and frustrated, you cannot un-ring that bell. You can apologize later for it – but that doesn’t mean a child forgets. And it doesn’t mean it won’t have an impact on him or her. Kids remember.

Once you start yelling at your child, Jay believes you’ve already lost the battle. Screaming orders at your children is just as effective as when other people scream orders at you. You dismiss them out of hand and so does your child.

I believe Fitter is right. Of course, it’s not always easy to follow this advice – and I bet every parent has “lost it” with their child on several occasions. However, when you realize the effect it is having (or not having) on your child, it becomes easier (at least for me) to hold your tongue and speak in a more calm and rational way.

I know I have gone back and apologized to my son for getting too upset with him. It’s an experience and a feeling that I go to great lengths to avoid.

Where do you come down on the subject of parental disciple and respecting your child? What does being a successful parent mean to you? I know not everyone agrees – and I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment in the comment box below and feel free to share this on Twitter and Facebook.

Book links are my amazon affiliate links.

photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

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