Being in charge of another person’s life as a parent is a very challenging task. You’re in charge of their emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing, even as you try to deal with other things outside the home.
What makes it even harder is that as a parent you want to account for everything in your child’s life even without meaning to sometimes. Parenting doesn’t have to be such a struggle, which is why this article will focus on things you need to let go of to be a happy parent.
14 Things you need to let go of to be a happy parent
Trying to be a happy parent isn’t only beneficial to you but also your child and the family in general. According to research a parent’s age, gender, and parenting style, and the way they form emotional bonds with others are all linked to happiness. Some of these may be beyond your control, but others are well within your power to make happen. They include:
- Let go of keeping score
A lot of adults in Nigeria can attest to the fact that their parents rarely forget any of their children’s mistakes. They wait until the child does something to bring up all the other past mistakes, roll it into one and present it as a pattern, and then, they register their displeasure dramatically. To be a happy parent, you may have to learn to let go of your child’s previous mistakes. Mistakes are a part of growth and it doesn’t mean your child is a burden.
- Quit holding onto “supposed to”
Nothing kills happiness in parenting like holding on to certain ways things have been done in the past and then forcing them on your child as the way to go. Those things may have been done in the past, but you must understand that your child was born in a different time and place. Trying to force your ways on your child is denying him/her the right to express him/herself and develop a personality.
- Stop shouting
Children can indeed be very frustrating in their behaviour, but this is not an excuse to shout at them. Shouting doesn’t help your relationship with your children, but rather makes them feel scared and intimidated by you. Identify moments and behaviours that make you shout and find better ways to communicate your displeasure. You can also use other healthier forms of discipline.
- Avoid the use of force
You will be hard-pressed to find a Nigerian adult who never felt the brunt of their parents’ force during their childhood. This force includes the use of spanking or threats designed to make a child fall in line. Listen to your child’s perspective when you ask them to do something and they refuse. And help them see and understand the reason why certain decisions or being made for them. Dialogue saves both of you stress and reassures your child that you’re always ready to listen to their own point of view.
- Give up food targets
Parents whose children don’t eat a lot tend to set food targets for them. People in Nigeria have the habit of commenting on children’s weight and this puts pressure on the parents to force-feed the child. Setting your child a food target they must meet sets both of you up for frustration. Instead try and find out the child’s food preferences and act accordingly.
- Avoid one-sided decisions
Because you’re the parent doesn’t mean that your child shouldn’t have a say in anything. You have the final say as a parent, but sometimes you should involve the child in the decision-making. It will help them develop confidence and learn to take responsibility for their decisions and actions.
- Cut out negative messages
Nigerian parents easily fall into the trap of repeating negative messages so much that it alters their child’s self-image to the point of causing them to subconsciously own that image. As a parent, try to pick out the positive in your child’s negative attitude and focus on commenting on those. Instead of saying “you’re too talkative,” say “you really make friends easily.”
- Let go of your own childhood story
Many Nigerian adults have heard their parents tell them of how they walked without shoes for 20 kilometres, or how they didn’t have food to eat because of poverty. Repeating these stories might trap your children in your fear of the past.
- Give up trying to look perfect
Parents try to pass themselves up as perfect in order to give their child an image to aspire to. It is for this reason you hear Nigerian parents mouthing off to their children that they always came first in class. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Be willing to learn, unlearn and improve. It will free your child from unnecessary pressure. And your child will also learn that from failure, you can learn a lot.
- Worry less
The world is a difficult place and there’s no way of knowing if your children are safe when they’re away from you. Some parents tend to resort to worry at times like these, but always remember that worry doesn’t make them safer and it steals your happiness from you.
- Stay away from one-size-fits-all rules
One-size-fits-all doesn’t work because children have different personalities obviously. Though there are some rules that are considered general, which includes showing respect and generally being nice. Try to make rules according to what you think works for your child.
- Don’t try to account for every minute
You should be very much involved in your child’s life daily, but avoid trying to account for every single minute because that can be stifling. Children get creative when bored, so they take responsibility for their time. Provide resources they may need, and then try to give them space to do their own thing.
- Shun unhealthy sacrifices
Unhealthy sacrifices may end up causing resentment on your own part because you feel parenthood has denied you the expression of your core self. Ignoring your own needs will only teach your children to do the same when they’re parents.
- Keep guilt in check
Letting guilt eat you up may end up making you feel worthless as a parent. Parents tend to take responsibility for everything and blame themselves for not doing enough. Mild guilt is important when you’re looking to make changes, but wallowing in it is not healthy. Even if you think you ruined your child in some way, there’s always time to make amends.
There are a lot of moving parts in parenting, but letting go of the things listed above will go a long way in making you a happy parent.
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com
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