Everybody always laughs off New Year’s resolutions and I am confident that New Year’s 2011 will be no different. But every once in awhile we hit upon some resolutions that are really, truly worth investing the time and effort it requires to fulfill a resolution. For some, it’s quitting smoking or eating better, for others it may be getting a new job or going back to school. Dedicated (but all-too-often harried) parents make resolutions to be better at their vocation as protecting, raising, and loving their children. Here are a few realistic and worthwhile resolutions to make you a better parent in 2011.
Resolve to Be the Best Parent YOU Can Be
Imagine being ultimately understanding, ever patient, always loving, 100% focused, and constantly attentive. Add to that things like working for a living, trying to instill values, and maybe even having a social or romantic life, and it’s no wonder every resolution you’ve made has failed. We are not all meant to do all of this and be all of this. Seriously. If you find yourself snapping at your kids whenever you first walk in the door after work, institute a new rule that from 5:30-6:00 is a quiet time in the bedroom reading or doing homework. Find a way to work with your flaws. You aren’t always going to say or do the right thing, and that’s okay, but admitting who you are can go a long way to creating a better bond with your child.
Resolve to Overlook One Mistake a Day
Just let one mistake go. One. Depending on what the mistake is, you can either ignore it completely or use it as a “teachable moment,” but don’t get angry or punish for it. Being a kid is a lot harder than what most parents seem to think it is and it’s very natural for a dozen things to go wrong or be forgotten in a day. Pick one and just let it go. You’ll enjoy one less time a day to get angry about something and your kid can focus on trying to get every thing else they do right.
Resolve to Spend Dedicated Time With Your Child
We know you have to spend a lot of time when your kids are with you doing other things, like cooking and cleaning and heaven forbid, relaxing. You spend even more time away from your kids completely while they have school and you have work. Instead of promising to spend more time with your kids, resolve to spend better time with them. This means set aside special blocks of time to spend with each of your kids alone and together. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount of time – it only takes a small amount of listening and sharing with each child to make a huge difference.
Resolve to Give Each Child Ten Compliments a Day
And look at them when you say it. “That’s very pretty, honey” said while looking at the newspaper even while your body is turned towards the coloring page simply does not count. Look at what you are talking about and look at your child, too. Don’t make things up to say however; start looking for and complimenting real things. If you pay attention, you will find at least ten noteworthy things to say in a day to your child, and you’ll begin to appreciate and enjoy them more than ever. They’ll like it too, of course.
Resolve to Provide Consistent Discipline Every Time for the Five Most Important Rules
Set aside time with your spouse and determine the five most important rules. This does not include essential safety rules as those are for everyone, all of the time, not like special home rules. These can be privacy rules, bedtime or curfew rules, language rules, or any other behavioral issues that you feel strongly about. Consistent discipline is always a good idea, but takes more effort than most parents are really able to put in every single day. Rather than the mile-wide and inch-deep approach to discipline, put more energy into the absolute most important rules and you’ll have more success and it will teach your kids real discipline.
Parenting is tough. The best route to being a better parent is to focus your efforts and make small choices, every day. Those will be the moments your kids will appreciate as adults, as well as the moments that will make them into adults that appreciate.