In many of my workshops I ask, “how much longer do you think you’ll be a parent?” The response is usually “for the rest of my life”. Then I say, “considering many of you will be parents for quite a while, how much time to you spend each week on improving your parenting skills?” The answer is often “zero” or “a little”.
Parenting, like many other things, is a learnable skill. If you are not feeling successful in your parenting, then do something about it and expand your knowledge. Parents often are going on automatic and using the same parenting strategies that their parents used with them, that their parents used with them, and so on. In my opinion, kids have changed significantly, even in the last decade or two because of the impact of media and technology. Consequently, parenting is a whole new ballgame and new methods are needed.
Science is giving us more information on how the brain works and how children develop, especially when they spend time in front of screens (tv, computer, etc.). When you are on top of recent developments and incorporate them into your parenting, not only will you experience greater success with your kids, you’ll feel more confident in your decisions. You can have a more cooperative home life and feel energized to make a bigger impact in your community.
Continuing your learning is not limited to getting new information. It also includes reviewing what you already know. You may be familiar with a number of highly effective parenting techniques, but for some reason, you are not doing what you know. This is probably the perfect time for you to revisit some of those teachings and focus on applying them in your life. Every time you read something, even if you have seen it before, you are seeing it from a new perspective because you are a different person than when you saw it last. Take advantage and take it deeper.
Let me be clear that I am not suggesting that you to run off and get a masters degree. Keep things simple. Take a class, join a discussion group, subscribe to a newsletter, or read a book. You might want to make it complicated. It’s not. Present Parent Training even has a Parenting Webinar Series starting on Nov. 22 that parents can attend live and get the recordings. Whatever the medium, find what works for you, and start.
Most importantly, once you get some new information, ask “how can I use this?” Even if you only get one gem of wisdom from the book, group, or class, that gem could be the difference between you feeling frustrated and you feeling confident.
As you continue learning, you model an appetite for learning for your kids. It will help you empathize, and when you talk about what you learned in your class, they’ll probably be more likely to tell you what they learned in theirs.
Parents, I invite you to continue your learning through your life, in parenting and other areas. It’s helpful, and it’s fun. Even though I am considered to be an expert in parenting, I still take classes, read books, talk to other experts, and seek deeper insights. And after all that, if I think I know it all, I just go and spend some more time with my kids. They have plenty to teach me.