Parenting: Defining Our Roles as Parents

Whether you are a first time parent or have experienced the caregiving of multiple dependents, it is not unusual to want to adapt our roles and approaches to parenting as we grow and our children develop.  There are no specific guidelines or rules that come with being a parent or caregiver and often it can be overwhelming to manage our own expectations that may be influenced by input from family members, societal pressures, social media images and idealized standards.  There are so many mixed messages, suggestions, and opinions that often can lead us to feeling shame (I am not a good enough parent to my child) or guilt (I should not have acted that way).  

Your Parenting Style

In this blog post, the goal is not to tell you how to be a parent and not judge the type of parent that you are or want to become, but to encourage you to explore what is important to you in being a parent.  You may be unsure of what is right or wrong for you, coupled with some anxiety  about whether or not your parenting style will be effective with your child.  Each child, just as each parent, is created differently and has different sets of experiences that shape who they are and how they respond to their environment.

You are the Best parent!

Most important to remember, you are the best parent for your child.  The fact that you are reading this and making an effort to think about and gain awareness into your way of being with your child highlights how much you value your relationship and role as a parent.  With that said, the goal is not to become the perfect parent, but to determine what intuitively feels right and works for your family.  That may look like discovering a way to promote the beliefs, values and life skills that you want your child to have, effectively managing stressors and reducing conflicts and/or building a trusting and fulfilling relationship with your child.

An Exploratory Exercise

So here are some questions that you- alone, you and your partner, or you and whoever else you want to share in this exploratory exercise with- can reflect on and consider as you continue to define who you are and want to be as a parent:

  1. What part of your upbringing with caregivers/parents/guardians do you think will show up in your role as a parent?
  2. What are you hoping to change or utilize from your upbringing in your parenting role?  What did you like or dislike about the way you were raised or parented?
  3. How were you disciplined as a child/children? Do you think this has impacted or will impact your discipline style?
  4. How do you view discipline in your parenting role?  Do you ascribe to a particular style of how you want to discipline your child/children?
  5. What do you believe you are responsible for in being a parent?  What would you consider your duties?
  6. What values do you hold as a parent?  What is important for you to share with your children?  What is important that you instill in your child/children? 
  7. How do you want to influence your child/children?
  8. Do you have any rigid boundaries that you will follow?  Is there anything specifically that your child/children has/have to do or absolutely cannot do?  What is your role in encouraging or enforcing this?

Consider these beliefs and compare them to your answers above. 

Do you agree or disagree:

Your role as a parent is to:

  1. Guide your child and encourage them to discover and explore answers for themselves
  2. Keep your child physically, psychologically and emotionally safe.  
  3. Encourage cooperation using effective communication strategies (verbally and nonverbally) vs. demanding obedience.
  4. Accept all of your child’s emotions.  Accepting that they will feel joy, anger, sadness, fear, shame, guilt and jealousy.
  5. Encourage your child to learn the skills necessary to problem solve on their own.  You are not the rescuer or the problem solver.

In upcoming blog posts, we will explore further parenting strategies and skills to build connection, trust and positive attachment with your child.

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