The 10 Commandments of Healthy Parenting, Part I

I am the mother of 3 amazing children – 2 daughters ages 2 and 9 and a 6-year-old son.  Parenting is simultaneously the most wonderful and challenging experience of my adult life.  You might think I would have it altogether – I mean I am a board certified child psychiatrist, right? Well, these 3 have given me a run for my money and manage to do it every single day. While I know all about the science behind normal childhood development and strategies to manage temper outbursts, applying the knowledge and skills firsthand with my own children is brutal, especially after a long day at work. So I came up with the 10 commandments of healthy parenting, tips designed to help myself and others improve at this parenting game.

These tips are a little long, so I am dividing the list into 3 separate posts. Enjoy!

1) Thou shalt be flexible

You are going to be late, you’re going to miss deadlines, and you’re going to make mistakes. Your kids might pee on themselves right before you head out the door or come downstairs wearing pants from last season that now look like capris. They are going to run through the grocery store like they have no home training. You will forget to sign the permission slip for next week’s field trip or fail to bring snacks for school.  Instead of crying out of sheer frustration or mutating into a vicious, yelling beast, go with the flow but prepare in advance.  Allot an extra 30 minutes at the store, get up 30 minutes earlier in the mornings, keep snacks and a change of clothes on hand, put reminders on your phone, and accept the fact that you will mess up (probably a lot) and it’s going to be okay.

2) One size DOES NOT fit all

You can’t parent your children the way your parents raised you, how you sister raises her children, or even implement each recommendation from your pediatrician.  Your children are different and have their own distinct personalities, and no one knows your children better than you.  So take tips from friends, family, physicians, pastors, or even “Dr. Google,” but tailor those tips to fit the needs of your children. There are definitely some wrong ways to parent, but there is no clearly defined right way so do your best and keep trying!

3) Parents and children should NOT be friends

It just won’t work.  I have my own friends, and I don’t need to be friends with my children.  It’s okay to be friendly towards your children – I encourage you to do so.  But, we will not be friends – well maybe but only AFTER you have moved out of my house, can pay all your own bills, and don’t expect anything more from me except for my love and my time. Then can we become friends. Otherwise it just makes things confusing, especially for your children.  Inevitably you will have switched back to parent mode but your kid is stuck in friend mode, and an argument will ensue. Just don’t do it, then there’s no confusion.

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