Parenting New Year’s Resolutions
Alison Bellevue, Psy.D. | Director of Child, Adolescent, and Family Services
Before becoming a parent, you may have had ideas about the kind of parent you wanted to be. Or maybe, you had no idea what kind of parent you wanted to be and are figuring it out as you go. I encourage you to take time to review your past year as a parent in order to identify the things that inspired you and the things that seemed to get in your way. Often times, we target the areas we believe are lacking, but I think it is more effective to build on the things that have been going well. So, fill in the blank: I felt most like the parent I want to be when_____________________.
1. I was having fun with my kids. If this is what came to mind, here are some suggestions to help you move towards this goal:
a. Keep some time during the week open! We are often overscheduled, which creates stress and pressure to get from one place to another and limits our time to just be with each other.
b. Keep doing the things that were fun! This may seem obvious, but often we will do something once and forget about it. You can also ask your kids for suggestions of new things to try. It can be fun to create a list of ideas and then choose one at random to try that day.
c. Keep demands low! The only objective during these designated times is to have fun. Do your best to create experiences that allow both you and your children to be free and where the word “no” is not often needed.
2. I felt connected with my kids. If this is what came to mind, here are some suggestions to help you move towards this goal:
a. Create a screen free zone! Feeling connected often happens when we aren’t doing two things at once. When our phones are away, it is much easier to put all of our attention on being with our kids.
b. Create a routine with your child! Find time each day or each week for just you and your child. If you have more than one child, do your best to find time for each individually. This can be as little as 5 minutes and as simple as reading a book together. It is not about what you do, but about the predictability and making the time for each other.
c. Create opportunities to learn about and from your child! Your child is always developing and their world is constantly changing. Ask your child open-ended questions and show interest in what’s important to them. Ask them to teach you about their favorite game or clothing designer. Let them be the expert and you the student.
3. I felt proud of my kids. If this is what came to mind, here are some suggestions to help you move towards this goal:
a. Give your child more opportunities to figure things out on their own! Resist the urge to swoop in and fix. By giving your child space to persist through (age appropriate) challenges, you allow them to build their own confidence and work towards goals.
b. Give your child more praise and encouragement! Be on the lookout for things your child is doing that make you feel proud. Let your child know you are proud of her-you can never give too much praise. This will help shift your focus and increase the desired behavior.
c. Give your child opportunities to pursue their interests and talents! You know your child better than anyone. Do your best to help them build on their strengths and pursue their passions. This can be challenging when their interests/talents are not yours, but the effort will pay off when you see your child flourish.
There is no “right” answer to this question-these are just three ideas. You are the expert in you and your child(ren) and know how best to work towards your parenting goals. Hopefully these ideas get you started on what will be an ongoing journey to parenting in a way that is best for you.
Happy New Year!