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Now that our children are getting older, how do we know if we are doing a good job as parents?

brother & sisterThere is a whole history to your parent-child relationship that began at the moment your youngster was born. To help you better understand the present, try to gain some insights into where you have been as a family. Think back on your experiences with your child when he was a baby, a toddler, and a preschooler. Ask yourself:

  • How active a parent were you in those early years? Did you play a major child-raising role in the family, or were there other demands (such as long hours at work) that kept you from being as involved as you would have liked?
  • What were your most enjoyable parenting and family experiences during those years?

Since those first years of your child’s life, your parenting techniques may have changed. Perhaps you were quite anxious as a new parent but gained confidence as the months and years passed. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What have you learned as a parent? What were the hardest skills to learn?
  • What were your best traits as a parent of a young child? What were the areas in which you had the most problems? For example, did you find it difficult to relate to your child before he started to talk? Was it difficult for you to set limits when he entered toddlerhood? How did he respond to you in your parenting role?
  • What did you want to change about yourself as a parent as your child grew? How successful have you been in making those changes? Keep in mind that as your child grows, you and the entire family need to change too. In essence, you are proceeding through your own development as a parent.

Even if you made mistakes during those early years, you can amend them now. If you missed out on certain family experiences because you were working too hard, you still have many years to enjoy your spouse and children. In general, children are understanding and forgive their parents for shortcomings and faults. And if you weren’t there when your child took his first steps or rode his tricycle for the first time, you can be there for other special events to come, like your child’s school play and his soccer games.

Your Current Parenting Experiences

Spend some time thinking about how you are doing as a parent during these middle years of your youngster’s childhood. This is a challenging time, in which your child is seeking more independence and is questioning the family’s rules. And, from time to time, you may have to help him with school-related problems. He will be developing more peer relationships, too, and his interactions with siblings may change.

How well are you parenting your child during this time in his life? In what areas are you doing well? Where do you think you need more help?

Your Current Life Issues

For many men and women, the stress in their lives interferes with their ability to parent. If they are unhappy on the job, for instance, they might return home preoccupied and tense at the end of the day and be unable to handle the tasks of running a family as effectively.

Take a moment to assess how you feel about these and other important aspects of your life.

  • Your career and occupation
  • Your relationships at work
  • Your living conditions, including your home and neighborhood
  • Your lifestyle, including time for yourself and leisure activities
  • Aging: growing older, slowing down and experiencing changes in your body
  • Your relationship with your spouse or partner
  • Your relationship with your parents and siblings
  • Your friendships

Evaluate problems in these areas, and how they might be influencing your family life. Whenever possible, find ways to deal with these difficulties in your life more effectively, so they will not interfere with your parent-child relationships.

For example, if you are like many parents, your day is so filled with job and family responsibilities that you have absolutely no “down time,” when you become a priority. Keep in mind, however, that most parents are happier people (and thus better parents) when they make time for things they find pleasurable. As your children move through their school years, they will develop interests and responsibilities (from friends to homework) that can provide you with more time for those activities that you find enriching. You do not need to devote every free moment to playing checkers or baseball with your children; in fact, as long as you are also setting aside some time for your youngsters, they will probably feel good knowing that you are pursuing interests that you really enjoy.


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Parenting Plans – Cultivating Morals & Character in Your Child



… help you to create a vision that guides your decisions and behavior as you raise your child. This is essential to a healthy parent-child relationship. Have you taken the time to think about the values you want to cultivate and the family experiences you want to create? In this article, I’ll ask you to look deep into your heart and think about what it really means to be a parent, what your child needs from you and how you can provide it. I’ll also ask you to consider your own needs, as a parent and as an individual who seeks meaning and purpose in his or her life. By reading this and following my recommendations, you’ll be ready to create your own parenting plan and learn what it really takes to raise a child to maturity and what a delightful journey it is.

First, let’s explore the components of a healthy family

In a healthy family, parenting is a top priority. Discipline is fair, consistent and designed to teach, rather than blame, punish or humiliate. Parents establish firm limits, but allow children freedom of expression within boundaries that are in place not to keep children down, but to keep them safe. Expression of feelings is encouraged. Even negative emotions are okay. The family is a safe haven where the child can relax and be himself.

Parenting plans must respect each person’s individuality

Although each person is a member of this tribe which is your family, individual needs must be encouraged and respected. We’ll also explore what makes up a good parenting plan in this article.

Parents acknowledge that while togetherness is important, everyone has the need for solitude. Time for self-care is also essentially, especially for hard-working parents. Parents need to take time for themselves, so they can fill the cup that gives them the energy to take care of others.

Good parenting plans focus on togetherness and shared experiences, but also allow time for solitude and self-care.

Parents create rituals that make sense within the family and create deep and lasting bonds.

Focus on personal growth

Even as parents are raising their children to become mature adults, they realize that they need to work on their weaknesses and tendencies that are detrimental to a healthy, loving family (such as a tendency to overreact, to lash out when stressed, to drink to relieve tension, to avoid intimacy through workaholism, etc.)

Parenting Plans

Spend quality time with your children each day, but never be fooled into thinking that participating in an occasional fun activity is enough. You must also be there for the daily struggles and problems. This is what I refer to as quantity time.

Do activities together: preparing meals, cleaning the kitchen, riding bikes, walking the dog. Make your drive time to and from school, one-on-one time for sharing feelings, dreams and struggles.

Use what’s happening in the moment to teach self-discipline and cultivate awareness, compassion and a sense of diplomacy.

Create family rituals that have a sense of meaning and foster deep bonds. Don’t just blindly follow traditions. Use them to create your own.

Use the parenting plans on this page as a starting point for your own vision. If you have ideas to contribute, please use the box below. Be part of a caring community of parents around the world who weave their own thread into the tapestry of humanity by consciously raising their children.