Often times in my practice I am asked for my advice to parents raising kids. Number one, it’s the hardest job in the world, and here is what I think…
BE the kind of person you want your children to be.
Love them fiercely. Never be afraid to be affectionate. Make sure they know they are loved and valued just because they are human, not because of what they do or have. Teach them compassion, empathy, and ways to manage conflict. These are things they must experience first in their relationship with you and observe in your relationships with others.
Set boundaries for them, boundaries that teach personal responsibility and hold them accountable. When you mess up, show them how to apologize and make amends. Demonstrate vulnerability in your own life to teach them to take risks and how to handle failure. Validate their emotions whenever possible to teach them to trust themselves and their ability to interpret the world.
Get to know their friends and their friends’ parents. Don’t be afraid to monitor their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. for dangerous activity, but also try to be respectful of their need for privacy- especially for teenagers.
Honor the people your children become and do whatever it takes to stay in relationship with them so they experience unconditional love. Enjoy the process because they grow up so fast, relish in the privilege to get to know your children intimately and deeply.
And at the end of the day take some time to pat yourself on the back, because parenting is not about being perfect, its about staying present and trying your best, and for that you need to give yourself credit.
Abbe Sechrist is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Northside Mental Health in Broad Ripple. She is a wife, and the mother of two young sons. The focus of her clinical practice is working with children, adolescents, adults, and families dealing with trauma issues, as well as eating disorders, mood disorders, and family issues.