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How to Be a Better Parent

Raising kids is tough, no doubt about it.  And there are countless resources available to on how to be a better parent and to help them turn out to be productive members of society.  But it really boils down to the simple things, and above all of them is something that comes naturally for most of us parents; an abundance of well-displayed unconditional love.

How to Be a Better Parent

One important point when it comes to raising your kids: you need to be very conscious of how you were raised. It affects the way you raise your kids whether you think about it or not.  On a sub-conscious level, you are raising your kids the same way you were raised – mainly because that’s the main model that you can reference.  Sometimes I find myself thinking, “What did my parents do in this situation?”  and I apply it by default.

So if you had bad parents growing up, be extra conscious that you aren’t following the same poor parenting habits.  Break the mold!

3 Ways to be a better parent:

1. Spend Time with Your Kids

Simple enough, but it means putting aside your agenda and replacing it with a family agenda.  If this doesn’t come naturally, like it doesn’t for me, you need to schedule it in.  And be generous with the time you spend with them.  Try to do your stuff when they are with friends, at school, or in bed. Time with your kids builds shared experiences together and forges a stronger relationship.

Make appointments with your kids.  Go out on “guys nights” with your sons or “daddy date nights” with your daughters.  Make a regular practice of eating together as a family.  Kids are much more emotionally stable when they aren’t wondering when they are going to be able to see their dad.

2. Listen To Your Kids

The worst feeling for any person,let alone a child, is to be ignored.  Listening is a form showing respect, and when you listen to a child (especially teens) , it tells them that you love them. The keys are: 1)stop what you are doing and turn to them 2) make eye contact, 3) and affirm what they are saying.

The more you make an effort to listen, the more secure they will feel and the more they will open up to you.  Having open lines of communication is especially crucial in teen years when your kids are naturally disposed to not tell their parents what they are feeling.

3. Use Common Sense Discipline

One of the most lacking parenting skills today is disciplining children.  In general, kids today lack the respect for others and for authority that they had only a generation ago.  Un fortunately, the lack of discipline received as a child manifests itself in later years when they can’t get a job, keep a job, or stay in a relationship.

Disciplining your kids teaches them 3 very valuable lessons

  • they can’t always get what they want
  • the world does not live to serve them
  • respect for authority

When do I discipline?

Parents who are afraid to discipline can follow these simple guidelines:

  • outright disobedience

A clear instruction is blatantly disregarded even though it was well-communicated.

  • lying

The truth is something other than what your child told you.  Be sure to independently verify.

  • disrespect

Not giving the honor due another person. (ex. Telling an adult to shut up) This can apply to property and animals as well, ie. destroying another person’s possessions.

Parenting is a deep and complicated subject, and these three simple tips are simply a starting point, a framework to which to hone your parenting skills.