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4 ways to build your parenting capacities

27 March
Posted by:
Michael Grose

There’s one cliché that I makes me grimace every time I hear it.

That is: “Parenting is the world’s hardest job..............................”

Yes, parents are on a steep learning curve and raising a child is a huge responsibility ...........................but that comment has negative connotations and overlooks the fact that.................parenting contributes to our personal growth.

Kids take us into new ground as people. They require us to have personal capacities and skills that most of us, never thought we’d develop.

For instance:

• When impatient, task-oriented people have kids most discover a patient side that they never thought they had.

• Effective parenting requires you to think ahead, think of others and to bring others along with you. These great leadership capacities apply to any workplace.

• Discipline, confidence-building and family management require a range of communication skills that are found in customer service, counselling and negotiation disciplines.

You can build your parenting capacities in four ways:

1. Build your expert knowledge: There’s a lot to know when you have kids. There’s no shortage of parenting information around, but not all of it is ‘expert’. Knowledge that comes from a trusted expert source with runs on the board is important!

2. Develop self-care strategies: I’ve been banging on about parents looking after themselves for a while now. I wrote about this that appeared in my Body & Soul column (in News Ltd Sunday newspapers) last Sunday, which got a really positive reaction. I’ve put it on my blog.

3. Build your support networks: People generally don’t parent well in isolation. Effective mums and dads are generally surrounded by a range of healthy people who can support them at different stages on the parenting journey. These supports include family and friends, general practitioners, associations (e.g.Multiple births Associations) and child carers & schools. Surround yourself with support mechanisms so you can get advice, ideas and just a break, when needed.

4. Build your parenting skills: Effective parents have a range of tools in their parenting toolkits. Some parents have them in-built as they got them from their parents, or they spent time bringing up a sibling which gives them quite a headstart. On the other hand, you may have inherited outmoded skillsets from your parents (particularly around the important area of discipline) which don’t fit today’s requirements. But skills can be developed, practised and learned that fit the many different situations you come up against.

So my challenge for you is to see parenting as a personal growth activity where the skills and attributes we learn transfer to other parts of your life.

You need to be constantly building your parenting capacities so you can be a better parent and a better person, to boot!
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