A few experts on psychology and stress management offer some professional advice on how to be a good parent:
- Your child wants authority from you. Children do not want to perceive you as a best friend. In order for them to feel safe, they want you to act as the parent figure.
- You need extended family in the picture. If you have no relatives living close by, adopt your friends as family. Extended family helps diffuse tension in your household. Children need positive energy from adults besides you.
- Make life fun. Don't strive for perfection in terms of clean rooms, good grades, or obedience. Settle for "good enough'' if nothing too large is at stake. Infuse humor and an upbeat attitude into daily living. Show them the ropes for living and make sure they have enough responsibility, but teach them to feel good about themselves even when life isn't perfect.
- Children need to develop healthy rituals, along with good habits, so they will feel emotionally grounded. If you can make the rituals simple and fun, your chances of creating family harmony will be much better.
- Share one meal a day as a family. Even if you have sandwiches and milk on paper plates, try to sit down together. The physical closeness helps everyone feel connected.
- Take your children's needs and wants seriously. Even if you can't meet all of those needs, honor what's important to your kids. For example, you might not be willing to buy your son a motorcycle. But, you could buy him a motorcycle magazine or discuss racing bikes with him.
- Honor the strengths of each child. One of your children may be an A-plus student, but another might struggle to get average grades. Make it a point to brag on each child equally.
Advice from Judi and Emma Hopson and Ted Hagen via McClatchy-Tribune News Service. The Hopsons are authors of a stress management book for paramedics, firefighters and police, Burnout To Balance: EMS Stress. Hagen is a family psychologist.