First step to being a great parent
Being a good parent actually starts before the baby is born. And it’s not about buying all the stuff in the baby store, the safest car or a new house.
This might feel crucial, but that’s not what it’s about.
What’s really going to help you become great parents is that you talk about what kind of parents you want to be, and what you expect from each other. That you talk about how you see your family and what kinds of values you want to base the children’s upbringing on. Because in a few months a new little human being will actually arrive at your home, fresh as an unwritten page. What do you wish for that little person? What do you want to give? What do you want to write on that page?
Security and independence? Probably. The strength to be yourself and stand up for yourself? Absolutely. Fairness and compassion? No question.
But how do you get there? What do you think?
This is an important conversation. And by having it together both of you will be involved and you won’t have to fight about it later when there’s a need for boundaries and rules. What’s more, by then, there won’t be much time. Because when everyday life takes over, most discussions are about how to deal with just that, everyday life; what happened and when, and what happened later and why. Not so much about the big picture.
What this discussion is really about is making sure you’re on the same wavelength. Not about doing things the same way. Get that out of the way; difference isn’t bad. Differences come out of the fact that we have different backgrounds, different temperaments. It actually teaches your child that difference is good. Agree in the beginning that it's OK for each of you to have different ways of doing things, but that you will be consistent in whatever you do. This is when you start to work together — not at odds with each other — to provide consistency in your child's life.
It’s actually all about consistency.
Consistency is about agreeing about what’s ok and what’s not. It’s about boundaries. Consistency is about agreeing on what kinds of behavior will not be tolerated. Establishing limits before a problem occurs provides direction for dealing with it when it arises. That’s actually a great gift to give your child; consistency. It’s good for kids. To know what’s expected of you, and what’s not.
And consistency is good for adults too.
And talk, talk, talk throughout your parenting. Things will arise, you have to stay flexible, make changes and come up with new ideas. But if you know from the beginning that for example self-confidence and empathy are important, then you can put every little situation in the light of the big picture.
And when your son decides to play with Barbie dolls or your daughter insists on wearing a night gown to school… Well, if independence was important for both of you, then you know what to do.
Prepare yourself for people looking. And be proud. It worked. The things you and your partner decided were important are already showing.
Start that conversation tonight.