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What Is the REAL Purpose of Being a Parent?

What Is the REAL Purpose of Being a Parent?

    Mother’s Day is just around the corner, prompting us to reflect back on parents and parenting.

    If I asked you, “What is the main purpose of a parent?” I’d probably get the following responses:

    1. To be their child’s guide in life
    2. To love their child unconditionally
    3. To teach their child good values
    4. To protect their child
    5. To offer their child support through life

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    Although all of the above are important and offer a beautiful image of what a loving parent/child relationship can look like, I would like to suggest that the REAL goal of any parent should be to teach their child to become their own parent.

    We need a new generation of kids – ones who rely on themselves, who avoid emotional letdowns, who know they have skills and the ability to use them and who lead happy and fulfilled lives without needing to consult their parent (You) forever.

    How can we accomplish this? There are some specific ways that I teach, however the most powerful way is to allow our children to make choices based on how each choice makes them feel and how their choice will make others feel.

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    From as early on as possible, probably starting at around 3-4 years old, teach your child that when they make a choice – any choice at all – they should ask themselves two things:

    a. What are the consequences of this choice?
    b. Will this choice I’m making now bring happiness to me and/or those around me?

    I used to have a very large poster hanging on the wall in my classroom that read: If you make a choice you must be willing to accept the consequence of that choice.

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    I referred to this poster over and over again and it became one of our class mantras. The children became very conscious when they were about to make a choice and therefore behaviours and classroom dynamics were incredible. In addition to this, children began feeling better about themselves and more confident. Even the students who came in with a “bad kid” legacy changed. They began to see that they were in control of their lives, that they had a choice and that good choices led to positive outcomes for themselves and the others around them.

    When teaching your child how to consciously make a good choice, state the choices then say,

    “Think about the choice you are about to make. How does your body FEEL inside? Is it one of comfort or discomfort?”

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    I tell children that most people feel these sensations in their heart/chest area or in their stomach. Making this a concrete/feeling experience is the perfect way to help kids understand the concept as well as get them to connect to their inner voice more often.

    Train them to say to themselves, “If I make this choice, what happens?” If their body sends a message of comfort, that’s the right choice. If their body sends a message of discomfort, then it’s probably not the appropriate choice.

    Kids really tune into this and it makes sense to them when you put it this way. The added benefit of this is that you’re teaching your child to stop and tune into themselves – what an invaluable and forever giving gift you’ll be giving!

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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