On Becoming a Better Parent

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One of the most frustrating things about becoming a parent is that your little bundle of joy comes without a .pdf file attached. By the time you are ‘getting the hang of things’, they are self-sufficient or have flown the nest. If that child happens to also be found possessing gifted abilities, your frustration level may start out at ‘high alert’.

So … how do you become a better parent before they’ve grown up and are out of your care? There are a few steps you can take; many may seem counterintuitive

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First and foremost, take care of yourself. It’s kind of like being on a plane before takeoff and the steward is explaining to put your oxygen mask on first before your child’s. If you are tired, hungry or stressed, you won’t be your best when coping with a tried, hungry, or stressed child. That doesn’t mean putting your needs above those of your child; you simply need to be mindful of your own needs.

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Pop culture would advise you to ‘RTFM’ if you aren’t sure what to do with a new device. However, without a manual, you may need to rely on the experience of other parents; preferably those who have already taken the journey (probably why you are here reading this blog post.) Today, there are hundreds of books, blogs and Internet sites available to you about gifted children. Take the time to read to them.

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I always tell parents that they know their child best and it’s true. However, knowing them well doesn’t come by osmosis. Spend time … real time; extended time, not just ‘quality’ time … with your child and listen to them. Unlike other interpersonal experiences, this tends to get harder over time. As they grow up, they also start to grow away. Their world and yours are always getting in the way and pulling you in opposite directions. Take care to minimize distractions to your relationship with your child. You don’t have to be a drone hovering over their every move; you should strive to create what I like to call a ‘mutual admiration society’.

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Our world has become a very stressful place. Families are more important than ever. They may not look like they did a generation ago, but the parent-child relationship is the basis for a strong society that can weather the storms around us. That relationship must be nurtured if you want it to survive and grow. The older you get, the more you value the process and appreciate the results. There will be times when you want to give up, but don’t. Trust me ... you’ll be happy you didn't.