How Do You Learn To Parent?

“Babies don’t come with a set of instructions.”  How many times have you heard these words of frustration from an overwhelmed parent?  You have probably said them yourself.

How Do You Learn To Parent?

I went to a local bookstore and counted the number of “How to Parent” books on the shelf.  I found 72 in just one bookstore.

What’s a parent to do?

Parents only need 2 guidelines for raising healthy, happy, well-adjusted children.



That’s it!  Just these 2 guidelines.  OK, you ask.  What approach do we use?  Authoritarian, No Limits, Liberal?

The answer is — it doesn’t matter.

Research in child development shows that children raised in an authoritarian home and children raised in a liberal home both emerge as well-adjusted adults.

How can that be?  Back to the guidelines – structure and consistency.  These are the cornerstones of adjustment.  Either way will work if you stay structured and consistent.  That means that the child gets up at about the same time every day, goes to the same school or day care, has dinner at a regular time and goes to bed on the same schedule every day.

Problems come from being inconsistent and wishy-washy.  Without structure and consistency, kids get a double message.  They become confused and learn to manipulate to deal with the confusion.

So what’s the problem?  Simple – the world won’t tolerate manipulative and inconsistent behaviors.  Surviving in the real world requires expected, reliable behaviors.

The worst parenting occurs when children continually receive mixed messages.  Children are then forced to make their own choices and decisions when they do not have the intellectual or development skill to take charge of themselves.

Without structure and consistency, kids turn to whatever is available to remove them from an insurmountable task.  Enter drugs, alcohol, sex or whatever helps them escape from a task for which they are not prepared.

Even if you do not have a parenting model to follow, you DO have a feel for “what works” in your home.  Yes, there is a gut feel there – just stop and listen.

If you really can’t find a speck of direction, pick one approach and stick with it.  You will be successful in raising well-adjusted children if you adopt one approach and remain Consistent and Structured.

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