Parents can have common misperceptions about parenting. By the time they make it into my office they are discouraged about their role as a parent. They usually subscribe to some myths that keep them in a state of confusion.
Myth #1: You need to be a friend to your child.
Truth: A child needs you to be a parent. Although your relationship can certainly have friendship-like qualities, you and your child are not equal; therefore, you can’t truly be a friend to your child.
As a parent you are in the driver’s seat and your children need to know that you are in control of their lives. Even though you give them choices, you are ultimately the decision-maker. This lays the foundation for safety and security. I’ve seen parents who wanted to be friends with their child, so they backed down from rules, consequences, and punishments which in the long run did a disservice to their child.
Myth #2: You wanted children so that someone would love you back.
Truth: Childrearing can bring a great deal of self-satisfaction and yet it is challenging, and it evokes lots of emotional reactions. There will be days when you will have polarized feelings about your child. One minute you love him and the next minute you may find yourself wishing you could trade him in for another child. It is normal to have those feelings, but healthy parenting requires that you learn how to neutralize your angry feelings and not take things personally.
Myth #3: It’s not how much time I spend with my child, but how I spend our time together that counts.
Truth: In today’s fast-paced society, kids need to spend daily chunks of time with their parents. Life can be hectic and family time like sitting down to dinner affords a child an opportunity to de-stress and debrief. If your only one-on-one time with your child is traveling back and forth from activities, your child misses opportunities “to be.” He will be distracted by the business of his life.
As you assess the quality and quantity of your relationships with your child, you must constantly work toward providing:
One on one time
When you provide these types of opportunities, a child has a better chance of getting both quality and quantity.
Myth #4: Your child’s needs should come first.
Truth: It’s a delicate balance that you must be able to meet your needs simultaneously with that of your child’s. Although it can feel like a juggling act, it is imperative that you replenish your needs so that you have something to give to your child.
I frequently see two types of “extreme parents” in my office. I work with parents who put their children’s needs on the forefront and cater to them one hundred percent of the time. Their world revolves around their children. They have lost the balance in their own life.
The other type of “extreme parent” puts their own needs before the needs of their child. The parent frequently leaves the child to fend for himself, fitting the child into his/her life as opposed to doing the opposite. The parent finds others to provide for the child and does not have the capacity to care for others.
If you believe that you subscribe to any of these myths, spend some time looking at how you can change your thinking and behaviors to support a healthier relationship with your child. Follow these foundational principals and watch the relationship grow!