20 ways to be a better parent

I've been going to playgroups now for 12 years. When I first started, I was intimidated by the older women with three or four children each. "I'll never know as much as they know," I thought. "I'll never be as good a parent as them."

It struck me the other day- at playgroup, amusingly - that I actually have learned a few things about parenting, twelve years and four children later. By no means do I claim all wisdom or perfection, but here are 20 lessons I have learned personally on my journey to being a better parent.

1. Know yourself well - understand your own experiences, reactions, emotions and prejudices. 

2. See the child as a person, worthy of respect in all circumstances.

3. Model what to do, and explain what you're doing.

4. At any point, you have two options. You could do the thing you feel like doing, or you could do the slightly better thing (eg. yell at the kid or speak a little less loudly). Choose the better option. 

5. Pick your battles. Not everything is worth having a big fight about. 

6. Pray for your children.

7. Say yes more often than no. When you have to say no, find a way to actually make it a qualified yes.

8. Help your child to make their own choices.

9. Give up your own expectations of your children's perfection.

10. Be thankful for small things on a daily basis.

11. Realise that your children are who they are today. They are not just potential to be fulfilled at some later date.

12. Tell the truth about your children's feelings. If the child says, "I'm sad," don't say, "No you're not," or "Don't be sad." Agree with them. "Yes, you are sad right now. That's a shame."

13. Leave enough time in your life for them to do things at their own pace, not at yours.

14. Keep the long term view and remember what you are aiming for with your children.

15. Think and plan much more. React much less.

16. Tell the truth to your children. Even with things like, "You have to get out of the pool now." Really? Isn't it more like, "I want you to get out of the pool now," or "the lifeguard says it's closing time."

17. Show your children how to do things by doing them together. This includes tidying up rooms and organising homework.

18. Demonstrate grace and forgiveness whenever you have an opportunity.

19. Give hugs, just because you can.

20. Model gracious, polite, truthful and loving speech.


What lessons have you learned in your parenting or mentoring journey?