I remember when I adopted my youngest, how happy I felt to have another chance to try to “get it right” with parenting. Parenting in your 40’s is so different than parenting in your 20’s. While I definitely believe that I know much more now than I did the first time around, each child is so unique that it’s like starting from scratch every time. I also feel that I have more patience, but definitely less energy. I think it boils down to an even trade – I’m not a better or worse parent with my youngest than I was with my first child, just different.
Which brings me to the question, is there a right way to parent? While I have some strong opinions about parenting, I’ll try not to jump on my soapbox this early in my blogging journey . . . but overall, I don’t believe there is one “right” way to parent which would make everything else “wrong”. The most important thing is to get to know each child well enough to adjust your parenting to fit their individual personalities. For example, my oldest was VERY strong-willed from the very beginning. As I tell her now, our first battle was when she was about 8 months old – I did everything wrong to prevent her from touching the buttons on the television and each time, she laughed at me and went right back to it. As with a lot of my parenting journey, if I only knew then what I know now.
In contrast, my youngest is very sensitive and a perfectionist and I have to be careful with the tone I use to correct her, as she is devastated when she thinks she has disappointed me. Obviously, these 2 diametrically opposite personality types need very different parenting techniques. One fun side note is that my grandson is so much like my oldest and is giving her quite the run for her money, but I’ve been able to use my 20/20 hindsight to offer my daughter some pointers that have been very well received.
I have read many parenting books throughout my 27+ years of parenting, and while I have learned something from each one, I have a couple of favorites that have significantly impacted my parenting over the years. The three that I would recommend to anyone who asks are:
Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay
1, 2, 3 Magic by Thomas W. Phelan, PhD
Permission to Parent by Robin Berman, MD
I think all 3 help parents to set loving boundaries for their children that the whole family can benefit from and then empower the parents to enforce these limits with consistency. While that may look different for each child, for me it is the foundation and essence of what it means to be a parent.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so respond to this post or tell me about one of your favorite parenting books and I’ll enter you into a drawing for a copy of one of my 3 favorites mentioned above.