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With all of the debate about work/family balance lately, it’s hard not to wonder whether your personal solution is the “best” one. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution to parenting, and there are many paths to feeling successful as moms and dads.
That being said, there’s one clear route to feeling lousy about your parenting: adopting someone else’s definition of success. Parenting is personal, and a plan that works beautifully for your neighbor or colleague might leave you feeling sad, depressed or inadequate.
While there are many ways to be a good parent, it all starts with creating an atmosphere that feels right to you. Here are five things to try to make you feel good about the job you’re doing as a parent:
1) Focus on Your Role of the Moment – Parenting takes plenty of multitasking as it is, so it helps to just focus on one task at a time. When you need to be focused on work, do so, but when you don’t need to check email or browse your phone, stop and focus on the kids. Undivided attention, even in smaller quantities, feels so much better than giving them short shrift.
2) Create Memories Through Rituals – A tradition of eating dinner together at night, even if you don’t accomplish this goal every single night, can give you an opportunity to talk, create bonds, and cherish the time you spend together.
3) Laugh – Break into song or dance, tell jokes, make light of serious situations, and soon everyone feels a little bit better. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, it always makes for a mood lightener.
4) Give Your Kids a Little Space – You want to keep your kids close and safe, but there is something so refreshing about watching them spread their wings. Case in point: When we moved to San Diego, I decided it was time to let my 10- and 8-year-old kids walk up to the bagel shop on their own. I was holding my breath the entire eight minutes they were gone, but loved seeing their sense of accomplishment when they returned.
5) Show Unconditional Love – Make sure your kids know that you always have their backs. When they’re discussing what’s important to them and they feel supported, they’ll beam from feeling love and there’s no better feeling than that.
What special trick do you have to boost your parenting self-esteem?