There was a time in your schooling that, your aim was to get an A on the quiz, test, class, semester, etc. For some of us, we realized that we could be happy with B’s, or realized that C’s were good enough. There are idealized versions of parenting in the media, that we often wish (or our kids wish) we could emulate, whether it’s trying to live up to the Clair Huxtable, Marge Simpson, Lorelai Gilmore, Carol Brady, or simply trying to be a better parent than your own. The pressures of parenting, and the need to strive for an A in it has never been greater.
There is no shortage of parenting books that offer many tips, ideas, and guidelines to improve your relationship with your child, help them excel at school, promote a more peaceful dinner experience, or to be an A+ parent. These books and its content are awesome, but here’s what I believe to be the most fundamental things parents and families should strive for, and all you have to do is shoot for C’s.
Everyone loves choices, but commonly parents fail to provide clear options for their child to choose. Parents are good with offering choices like, “do you want to pizza or tacos for dinner?” but will often provide no choice regarding “brush your teeth now!” Even if you’re presenting two not so good choices such as: “do you want to brush your teeth now, or do you want to brush your teeth after bedtime stories?” Now the child feels empowered because they got to choose what they wanted to do, you’re feeling good because you didn’t have to hand down an ultimatum, and more importantly it was a calming and collaborative conversation (yet another small step to avoid cavities). This is all a perfect set up for the next C.
One of the most common critique a child of any age will make of their parent or a situation will be, “it’s not fair,” or “they’re being mean.” A simple way for parents to avoid these remarks is going over the consequences ahead of time, and reminding a child that it was their choice that led to a consequence. Having determined consequences ahead of time (collaboratively between parent and child) makes it very clear and fair what the outcome will be for certain choices. While this is effective as a one time single occurrence, but you might as well get some more mileage out of all the collaborative work.
It is said that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become truly great. The good news is that you can be an amazing parent by taking the steps to being consistent with your child (prior to reaching 10,000 hours). Being consistent in upholding the agreed upon consequences. Consistent in reading bedtime stories. Consistent in following through with allowances, incentives, rewards, etc. Aside from improved family dynamics, a parent’s consistent behavior or actions can become the “gold standard” for consistency that a child will seek out in all types of relationships. Consistency fosters a sense of safety through predictability.
You wouldn’t have made it this far, if you didn’t simply care about the well being of your child and family. The reason why you would take the time to offer choices, follow through on consequences, rinse, repeat, and continue to read about ways to improve is because you’re a caring and loving parent that wants the best for your child, and want to fully prepare them to be a successful adult in their community. Above all else, your child needs to know that you care, and that all of your choices and actions are rooted in a place of deep unconditional love and care for your child.
Which brings us full circle to choices.
Forget about being an A parent, but let’s just strive for the four C’s!
*bonus points if you found a hidden 5th C- feel free to share below if you figured it out*
*photo credit: Access Hollywood + Dr. Perron