Is There a Perfect Parenting Guide?
A perfect parenting guide doesn’t exist because there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Parents are human. Parents make mistakes no matter how hard they try not to. This drive to be perfect can zap the joy out of parenthood and rob you of the opportunity to simply be close to your kids. While there isn’t a perfect parenting guide, there are guiding principles to help you be a great parent the way you define parenting.
Your ‘Perfect’ Parenting Guide
“…parenting happens to be one of the hardest jobs in the world and yet it’s the only one we don’t get any training for.” (Jessica Joelle Alexander, n.d.)
The thought of forging ahead deep into the unknown territory of parenthood can instill fear, anxiety, and stress into the most loving of parents’ hearts. While there’s little (if no) training for this job, there is a parenting guide to help.
It might seem unbelievable at first, but it is quite true: The best parenting guide for you and your kids is…you. You are your own best parenting guide, even if you’re new at parenting or new at parenting a child at any stage of development from babyhood to late adolescence.
Of course, you’ll seek parenting advice from multiple sources, but what you’re really doing is gathering information and assimilating it into your parental belief system. You use parenting resources to become your own handbook. If you have a spouse or partner, create this work of parenting art together.
Using Yourself as Your Parenting Guide
To build your personal parenting manual, start with introspection. Reflect on yourself and who you are. What will drive you as a parent? Consider such things as:
- Your values, the sense of what is important to you for your family
- Your thoughts on discipline—what does “discipline” mean to you, when do you think you should use it, how do you think discipline should be (there are almost as many definitions as there are parents, and with the exception of spanking, there isn’t a single discipline or parenting style recommended for every family)
- Your communication style and how you want to talk to your kids
- How your parents raised you (what worked well, and what didn’t work all that great)
As you reflect on these and other topics, craft a mission statement. In a few sentences (or less), summarize why you will do what you do as a parent. What do you think is your parental responsibility to your kids?
Consider this when you form your mission statement: As parents, we’re not raising kids; we’re raising adults. The ultimate goal is a well-adjusted, successfully functioning, independent adult. That’s only general, of course. You get to decide what this means to you. That definition will shape your parenting guide.
Writing Your Own Best Parenting Guide
Your parenting guide is personal and geared specifically to you and your family. As you continue to reflect on what’s important to you as a parent and for your kids, shape your thoughts into your guiding principles of good parenting. Below are some important topics to address.
- Love is paramount. Love is best expressed through actions (like the middle school writing lesson you might have learned, “Show. Don’t tell.”) How will you be involved and present in your children’s lives? How will you let your kids know that they’re your priority?
- Nurturing kids can boost their mental health and prevent depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use. List things you can do with your child to foster their mental health.
- Kids need routines for predictability, stability, and habit-formation. What daily routines are important for you to create?
- Foster your children’s independence by assigning chores. What fits their age and ability levels? How much do you want your kids to have input into the chore list?
- What will you do with your kids to nurture character traits like curiosity, cooperation, drive, empathy, honesty, resilience, respect, self-control, social skills, and work ethic?
- How will you help your kids cultivate their interests and passions?
- Does your family have a spiritual life? How will you pass your spiritual beliefs and values on to your children?
- In what ways will you treat your children with respect? How will you teach them to respect you and others?
Completing the above activities will give you a working draft of your own perfect parenting guide. It will be ‘perfect’ in that it’s created by you for your own unique, wonderful family. It won’t be flawless, though, because when it comes to kids and the parenting of them, flawless perfection is impossible and parenting fails will happen.
Revise your guidebook over the years and with changes your family experiences. Through it all, if you’ve created and reworked your parenting guide with love and positive intentions, you’ll have the ‘perfect’ parenting guide around for healthy, happy kids (read some Parenting Quotes for inspiration).
Peterson, T. (2019, June 25). Is There a Perfect Parenting Guide?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parenting/parenting-help/is-there-a-perfect-parenting-guide