We are survivors. As women, as people, we have all had to survive different obstacles in our lives. Of course, the degree of survival differs from person to person, but we have all had struggles in one way or another. For me, I had to survive a traumatic childhood and create strategies to have a loving, healthy relationship with my daughter. I believe that these parenting tips and strategies are helpful regardless of your specific struggles.
parenting tips and strategies
These are the 6 parenting tips and strategies that helped me become the mother I am today:
(1) As a scared new mom, and even after all these years of parenthood, I often have NO idea what I am doing
If someone tells you they have all the answers, I have a bridge to sell you. You can read parenting tips and strategies on the internet every day, and you will still not have all the answers. Each day it is my first time being a mother to my daughter at that age. Children do not come with a “how to” manual, and each child is different. What I do know is what NOT to do. I have a list of things that I will NEVER, ever do because those were horrific things that happened to me.
Awareness is key in implementing change. So I faced every horrific thing my mother did to me. I allowed myself to feel the helplessness, the sadness and the pain. If I allowed myself to stay in denial, or to convince myself that it was somehow justified, then how could I stop it from happening at my own hands? I used my own childhood as a roadmap of where I would never allow myself to go.
(2) For many of us, toxic and dysfunctional relationships are all we know
It is crucial that we learn new and healthy ways of parenting. Don’t be afraid to get help! Read those parenting books (and roll your eyes at the things you know wouldn’t work for your child), phone a friend (or two, or three) when you are having a bad day or you need some advice on how to proceed. Read that self-help book (or two, or three) that you’ve read so many times that it is hard to make out the words. Reach out to your spouse or find a good therapist. It is okay to ask for help.
(3) Kids will trigger the daylights out of you, and it is essential that you take time for your own well-being.
Parenting is hard! Scream into a pillow. Write in your journal. Talk to yourself in the mirror. Be your greatest friend and ally. Take the time to work on healthy coping mechanisms, and cheer yourself on for all the progress you have made. Remember, it is a marathon, not a sprint.
On particularly stressful days I make sure my daughter is safely occupied, and then I go into my bedroom, lock the door, and vent (sometimes to my husband, and sometimes I am a frazzled woman talking to myself). My daughter knows that sometimes Mommy needs a time-out too. We openly talk about our feelings, and she knows that feeling overwhelmed or frustrated is not something that only kids have to deal with.
(4) We will all make mistakes
As long as we are not abusing our children, mistakes are natural, normal, and par for the course. Accept responsibility for your mistakes, learn from them, and grow from them. Be willing to apologize to your children and recognize when you have done something wrong.
Many of us grew up feeling that we had to be perfect or had a caregiver who never admitted any wrongdoing. I am definitely a work-in-progress when it comes to expecting perfection from myself. I associated saying or doing the wrong thing with shame, because I was often shamed for my mistakes. If I don’t want my daughter to expect perfection from herself, I realized that I needed to set the right example that nobody (myself included) is perfect. There is no shame in making mistakes. I can be a great mom and still mess up. I can be the parent and still apologize if I do something that I regret.
(5) Just as our children need a parent, so do we
When we were children, some of us did not get the love and compassion we needed from our parents. If we did not receive support and kindness from our own parents, then we need to be our own parent.
How do we do that? Talk to that little child inside of you. Tell your inner child everything you wish you had heard from your parents and validate your inner child’s feelings and experiences. In order to love our children in healthy ways, we need to learn how to love ourselves.
(6) Unconditional love
The two most beautiful words in the world (in my opinion). What so many of us craved, but never received, was unconditional love. Give your children that love. Love them on the good days, and love them and support them on the difficult ones.
My daughter never doubts the love I have for her. She knows that no matter how I am feeling and no matter what she says or does, that nothing can ever change the love I have for her. She knows that to the point where she rolls her eyes when I say it to her. My daughter knows that no matter where life takes her, I will always be waiting for her with open arms and an open heart.
Ian S. Thomas wrote, “Before your children came, they were told that you would love them, so whatever you do, however you treat them…to them, it is love.” Being a parent is the greatest responsibility one will ever have. We know better than anyone how significant our role is in our child’s life. It is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy to be a parent. Remember to honor both, and you will be able to navigate the bumpy road of parenting.