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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

How to Make Parenting More Joyful and Less Stressful

How to Make Parenting More Joyful and Less Stressful

Parents these days spend a lot more attention and time on their children compared to that in the past. A recent analysis of 11 wealthy countries estimates that in 1965, the average mother spent 54 minutes a day caring for children, that number doubled to 104 minutes in 2012. And the time men spend caring for their kids has jumped from 16 minutes a day to 59.[1]

Take a look at these graphs that show the trend of time spent with children since the 1960s:

      Every parent wants what’s best for their children. Most, if not all of lifestyle and parenting choices are centered around trying to provide the best opportunities for their kids. Parents are preoccupied trying to ensure their kids are healthy, safe, have access to the best education and are set up to be successful adults.

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      Parents don’t mind going the extra mile to make sure their kids are doing okay. They pick their son up from college in a blizzard because he wants to spend the weekend at home. They insist that their daughter discuss every decision with them–no matter how small to help them avoid making mistakes of any kind. And though these intentions are honorable, the methods could be doing the parents (and the children) more harm than good.

      Protection Going to Extreme

      Think back to a time when you were in grade school. You probably had special school supplies that you loved. It could have been a special notebook or maybe it was a pencil or a special eraser. Because you liked it so much, you worked hard to preserve it.

        Your special eraser became an item that was for show and was never used. You didn’t allow anyone else to use it and you worked hard to keep it clean and in pristine shape.

          Instead of allowing your eraser to serve its purpose and help you erase your mistakes, the item became a source of stress. Whenever you’ve accidentally caused some dirts on the eraser, you blame yourself for it. Not only could you not use, you had to actively work to keep it safe and in perfect condition.

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            Now that you look back on the incident, you understand that these actions were irrational and silly. The eraser was created to be used. You were supposed to erase things with it. It never truly served its purpose. The same principle applies to over-parenting.

            Stressful Kids and Stressful Parents

            Parents have to be careful that they don’t project their own issues and ego onto the kids. If the child isn’t doing well, our culture has a way of making the parent feels as though they’ve done something wrong. Parents are pressured into feeling that their child’s successes and failures are a direct reflection of themselves. Consider the following questions:

            • Do you think that children’s accomplishments are a direct reflection of good parenting?
            • Does a child’s bad behavior signify a failure by the parent?

            If you answered yes to most of the questions above, such parenting is more ego-driven and is less beneficial to the kids than you think it is. The better the kids do, the better the parents feel about themselves as a parent. Parents’ value and worth have become directly tied to the success and/or failures of the children. This creates a mountain of unfair stress and pressure on parents.

            When parents’ focus is completely on their children and their work tirelessly to keep them from experiencing failure and making mistakes, they set themselves up for disappointment and depression. A 2013 National Health Interview Survey reported that five percent of all U.S. parents living in two-parent families with their children, and eleven percent of single parents, report two or more depression-related symptoms.[2]

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            Parents’ world shouldn’t revolve entirely around their kids because it can cause them to lose their own identity. All of parents’ likes, dislikes, hobbies and interest become driven by their children’s interests and needs. They no longer know what they truly enjoy doing, who they are and they can’t take time for themselves.

            Always allowing children to be the number one priority and the center of parents’ joy is unfair to others in the life. Parents’ relationships will begin to suffer and they may be tempted to put their marriage on the back burner as is the case with many couples with children. Over time, if parents continue to neglect their romantic relationship, the relationship will wither. This is a path to stress, unrelenting pressure and unhappiness for parents.

            Parents may believe that once their children are grown, they can focus on themselves a bit more and reignite the romance with their partner. But the truth is that once parents have established a pattern of co-dependence, it doesn’t end with the kids becoming adults. Parents will continue to worry, over-parent and allow their children to rule their universe for the rest of their lives.

            Bringing Back Joy to Parenting

            What is the key to healthy parenting? Relax. Like the eraser example mentioned before, let it do its job and don’t get too worried about making it a little bit dirty.

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              Children are going to make mistakes. In fact, they need to make mistakes. Shielding the children from failure shields them from valuable life lessons, robs them of the tenacity and fortitude failure provides and it tampers with their destiny. Being a child is the safest period to fall and learn to be independent. When children fail early, they learn stuff earlier too.

              When parents accept wrongdoings, for their kids and for themselves, they’ll be less stressful. Not only does this make both parents and their kids happier, children will also grow up handing things independently. They’ll grow up as a real adult who can take good care of themselves in the long run.

              The litmus test of good parenting is not determined by the successes and failures of the children. Preventing the children from making mistakes is an exercise in futility and counter-intuitive. A parent’s role isn’t preventing failure but showing their child how to get up and recover when they do fail. It is parents’ job to demonstrate how they should handle mistakes and cope with missteps with integrity. This is how parents truly impact and shape their character.

              Parents’ job is to love unconditionally, guide and gently correct their children. Parents are not their child’s savior, force-field and life compass. So, relax, stop hovering and have a bit of faith in the process. The kids will be just fine.

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              Anna Chui

              Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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              Published on November 7, 2018

              How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

              How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

              In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

              The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

              Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

              How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

              After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

              Figure Out the Laws

              Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

              The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

              Decide on an Approach

              Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

              Supplies/Resources

              Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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              A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

              Find a Community

              Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

              Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

              7 Different Homeschooling Methods

              1. School-At-Home

              Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

              The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

              • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
              • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
              • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

              2. Classical

              One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

              Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

              3. Unit Studies

              Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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              For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

              • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
              • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
              • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

              4. Charlotte Mason

              This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

              Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

              5. Montessori

              Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

              With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

              6. Unschooling

              Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

              For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

              7. Eclectic/Relaxed

              As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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              Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

              How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

              One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

              Email

              Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

              It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

              Google Drive/Calendar

              Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

              With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

              Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

              Ebooks

              Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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              E-Courses

              When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

              From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

              The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

              Some recommendations:

              Youtube

              Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

              Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

              Some recommendations:

              Final Thoughts

              Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

              Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

              Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

              Reference

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