What Makes a Good Parent?
Parents – Moms and Dads – are responsible for raising happy, well adjusted, and healthy children.
Dr. Laurence Steinberg, a university professor of psychology, specializing in child and adolescent psychological development, wrote “The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting.” In summary, he says:
- What you do matters. Children learn by watching you.
- You cannot be too loving. Spoiling a child is never the result of showing the child too much love.
- Be involved in your child’s life. Being involved often means sacrifice and rearranging your priorities to put your child first.
- Adapt your parenting to fit your child. Keep pace with your child’s development and consider how age is affecting your child’s behavior.
- Establish rules. You should always know: Where your child is. Who your child is with. What your child is doing. As your child gets older, the rules change to allow your child to make some of his or her choices.
- Foster your child’s independence. Setting limits helps your child develop a sense of self-control. Encouraging independence helps develop a sense of self-direction.
- Be consistent. If your rules vary from day to day, your child’s misbehavior is your fault, not his or hers.
- Avoid harsh discipline. Never hit a child under any circumstances; hitting may cause aggression in children. Find other ways, such as “time out.”
- Explain your rules and decisions. They are more likely to listen if they understand reasons behind your rules.
- Treat your child with respect. Give your child the same courtesy you would give anyone else. Pay attention when your child is speaking and respect his or her opinion. Be kind.
Parenting is the most terrifying, frustrating, and rewarding job we will ever have. If we make time for our children, teach them what we feel will make them good people, treat them with kindness, let them make their own mistakes and admit ours, and tell them we love and are proud of them, we will form a deep and abiding bond with our children.
Parenting is difficult no matter how old we are or how much experience we have – primarily because every child is different. One baby will sleep through the night; another will cry continually unless held and rocked. Even siblings can be different; one will take a two hour nap, the other won’t fall asleep until utterly exhausted. One child eats well and on schedule, another doesn’t, and on and on.
Being a teen parent is even harder simply because teens don’t have the financial support most adults have. Seventy percent (7 out of 10) of adult Moms work outside of the home, which means they have an income to pay for childcare. Only 35% of teens have regular jobs, with most working 20 hours a week at minimum wage.
Statistics aren’t in favor of teen moms, but that doesn’t mean a teen mom can’t be a great parent. Teens have different paths and challenges. What can help?
- Staying in school. Teens have a greater chance for a financially healthy future if they get a degree.
- Getting support. It might be family members, a local group for young parents, a church group, or even a group of helpful friends.
- Making ends meet. Teen parents who are in school often can qualify for public assistance. Research and apply early.
- Finding child care. Start researching options as soon as you can to find out if you are eligible for child care subsidies.
- Joining a support group. School counselors and pediatricians may be able to guide you to a group of peers you can relate to.
Most important: love your child; don’t react without thinking it through; respect your child’s differences; be a good role model; be consistent when you set rules; and be involved in your child’s life. You can’t be too loving.