Normally I am all for admitting my personal weaknesses as a parent. This type of confession usually feels cathartic to me, and I firmly believe that connecting with other parents by owning up to our imperfections and challenges is good for the parenting community in general.
When listing my maternal “flaws”, I usually count things like my lack of patience and my tendency to blurt out profanity when stressed as my biggest failures. In the past I have admitted to things like not enjoying playing with my children, being disorganized, not using my time wisely, and so on and so forth.
But today, as the new year gets closer, I know millions of others around me are busy taking stock of their hopes and aspirations for the new year, and before I set a few goals for ways I can become a better parent in 2013, I would like to acknowledge my parenting successes.
I am outstanding at talking about my feelings, and I think that I will be an asset to my children by helping them to process their experiences and validating their emotional reactions.
I am empathetic and nurturing. When my children are sad or hurt, it comes naturally to me to comfort and reassure them.
I am affectionate. My daughters get countless hugs and kisses from me every day and hear the words “I love you” frequently.
I am passionate. I believe the fact that my children see me enjoying life and pursuing things I love will help teach them how to find their own happiness as well.
I am honest. I remember vividly asking my mom, “What’s wrong?” when I was a child and hearing her respond brusquely, “Nothing!” When I am upset, I tell my children simply (of course only including details that are appropriate for their little ears) and truthfully how I am feeling, especially letting them know when it is not their fault. I never want my daughters to feel responsible for my own happiness.
Well, that wasn’t too hard! Before you set goals for ways to improve your parenting, why not first take a minute to acknowledge the ways in which you excel?
Now, onto that self-improvement part – my parenting goals for the new year are as follows:
I would like to reduce the number of times I become frustrated by parts of my day that are beyond my control. I hope to improve my ability to stay calm and grounded during stressful moments, and find a way to slow myself down before I become overwhelmed and irritable. Rather than snapping at my children or husband, I would like to become more successful at taking a deep breath and keeping the situation in perspective.
And lastly, I would like to work on balancing my distractions with the time I spend with my children. I am often so busy on the computer, the phone, or with housework, that I forget to really sit down and enjoy my daughters. I know it is unrealistic for me to eliminate my distractions of social media, writing, blogging, and maintaining a somewhat orderly household, but I vow to take a few more minutes each day to be truly present with my children. When I am spending time with them, I want the focus to be on them, without stealing glances at my phone, inbox, or messy kitchen.
What are your parenting strengths? In what ways would you like to improve as a parent in the new year?
Stephanie Sprenger is the mother of two young daughters, and lives in Colorado. As a board certified music therapist, she works part time teaching early childhood music classes. She is also a freelance writer and blogs at Mommy, for real.