That was then.
This is now.
Attitudes about parenting have changed dramatically during my lifetime. When I was young, my parents were “winging it.” Back then, the word “parent” was a noun, not a verb. You didn’t parent your kids. You raised them. My folks raised eight children without reading a single word about parenting. The word “parenting” probably never entered their minds, not even once. They were bringing babies into the world, caring for them, providing food and shelter for them, and keeping them in line until they were old enough to leave home.
To be fair, it was a different world back then. Being a mom or a dad wasn’t something you read about or learned about. It was something you did. And what you did was guided mostly by how you were raised by your own parents. There were few if any books or magazines to instruct them in the fine points.
Just the opposite is true today. There are hundreds of books about parenting. Pick your favorite guru. And the internet is a limitless source of information for parents. The trick is not to find it, but to sort through it. “Parenting” is a well-understood concept now, and the best parents are in a perpetual learning mode.
Today, the best parents are looking for advice, for answers. They’re the kind of people who would do anything to help their child grow up to be a happy, successful, independent adult. And they know this won’t happen because it’s supposed to happen. They know they’ll need luck, but more than that they’ll need to do the right things, because actions have consequences.
The best parents are preparing themselves. They’re doing the work to create a strong bond with their child, along with habits and patterns for sharing and connectedness – so they approach the adolescent years with a foundation of strength.
They’re working on personal development. They appreciate that they need to improve on their own communication skills, because if they can’t connect with their child, they’ll lose their ability to influence the outcome.
And the best parents know they have to be strong in many ways in order to handle the adversity and challenges that will pop up on a regular basis. They have to keep their cool, be patient, persevere, and remain committed to what works.
I say “the best” because not all parents are trying to be the best parents they can be, just as not all kids are doing their best to prepare themselves for adult life. There’s a spectrum from the best to the worst and all those in between. My parents may have been winging it, but they weren’t the worst parents or even bad parents. They were somewhere in between.
What about you? Are you trying to be the best parent you can be? Are you one of those top 10% of parents who are willing to work on communication skills and personal strengths to get ready for the challenges of helping an adolescent prepare for adult life?
If so, I encourage you to visit the Strong For Parenting website.