Parenting is one of the most important and difficult things you can do - as well as one of the most rewarding. There is little training in how to raise a child. It is an enormous responsibility which is usually taken for granted (2).
Parenting styles may be different but we all share a common goal. We want our children to turn into healthy, happy, responsible adults who will be able to get along with others and able to cope with difficulties.
Being a positive parent
Parenting doesn’t necessarily get any easier as time goes on. But there is good news. The longer you’re a parent, the more experience and perspective you have.
As a more experienced parent, you’ll be able to say, ‘It might be hard today, but tomorrow – or next week or next month – things will be different’. You know that the bad times won’t last forever, and the good times will come again. This can make it easier to stay positive and face any challenges (1).
Here are some more ideas on being a positive parent in the long term.
Focus on the positives
One of the best ways to keep a positive perspective on parenting is to remind yourself of what your children bring to your life:
- unconditional love and admiration just for being you
- hero worship – your children are probably the only people who think you’re the strongest, wisest and bravest person in the world
- the chance to be a child again through sharing in the magic and wonder of your children’s play and learning
- the chance to experience an amazing range and intensity of emotions, strengths and skills
- the chance to reflect on your own values, attitudes and assumptions about the world
- the chance to take time out from being a grown-up.
Look after yourself
Being a good parent over the long term will be easier if you keep looking after your own physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Here are some lifestyle tips that can help you stay healthy:
- Get support when you need it. Anyone looking after a child needs practical help, personal support and good information.
- Go with the flow. Lots of people notice that they have less free time and less social time after they have children. Don’t wear yourself out trying to do things the way you used to. You’ll find other ways to keep up with friends and family.
- Make time for your partner and your relationship. For example, you could try setting aside one night a week as ‘date night’. Even if you can’t go out, you could get yourself take-away and skip the washing-up for a change.
- Enjoy exercise as a family. You’ll feel better, you’ll set a good example for your kids, and you’ll have fun together! It can be as simple as kicking a ball at the local oval.
- Eat a nutritious family diet – and try to eat together as a family most nights. Turn the TV off, and use dinner time as a chance to enjoy your food and catch up on everyone’s day. An added bonus is that you’ll model healthy eating habits for your children – which might help with any fussy eating.
- Get lots of rest. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night once your children are sleeping independently at night. This will help you keep up with them during the day.
- Quit smoking. Cigarettes might help you cope with stress, but in the long run they make you feel worse. A cigarette-free house is a healthier environment for your children too. You can get tips for quitting smoking from the National Quitline (1).
Connect with other parents
One of your best sources of help, support and friendship is likely to be other parents.
When you connect with other parents, you discover that other people share your joys, frustrations and concerns about parenting. You also learn that there’s a huge range of normal when it comes to children’s behaviour and development, and also parenting styles.
Start connecting with other parents and their stories through the parent profiles and parenting forums of the Raising Children Network.
Click here for more parenting resources
1. Raising Children Network: The Australian Parenting Website
2. NSW Family and community services