I want to start off by telling you that I am not a parenting expert. Nor am I going to sell myself as one.
And I want you to realize that there are no such things as “parenting experts.” Any mother or father that's truly a person who lives in full integrity and honesty knows that parenting is a complete day-to-day work of being 100% present to who your child is and how they show off.
Most of the time, unless they have an office and a degree and an established business, you're just dealing with people who are posting things on Facebook thinking about how great of a parent they are. Those aren’t “experts.”
So, this is coming from my experience as a parent. A parent whose daughter has taught him some of the most beautiful lessons in the world.
And I owe my daughter this article, so I can tell you everything she’s taught me about being a better parent. I’ve boiled it all down to 3 steps, and the first one is...
#1: Support Your Children. Don’t Control Them.
Just because you've brought your child into the world doesn't give you the right to craft their world.
Just because you never made it as a gymnast in the Olympics, you were never a lawyer or a doctor, you were never the accomplished baseball player or actor that you imagined yourself to be...
Your child is not you, and your child is not there for you to live your life vicariously through them.
They have their own needs and wants and desires.
Look at who they are. Look at what their needs, wants and desires are. Take a look at their interests and support those interests on every single level.
I was never given that opportunity as a kid. So now, I've learned that lesson from my parents, and when I look at my beautiful daughter, I see who she wants to be.
I listen to who she is and I support her that way.
By no means am I a perfect parent. I will make my mistakes along the way, and I will own them when I make my own mistakes as I do in every relationship, which leads us to step #2...
Whether you are living with somebody or you’re single or divorced and living separately, it doesn't make a difference. You need to support and respect the other parent's time with the child. And you need to do everything in your power to make sure the child spends equal amounts of time with the other parent.
I know you may miss little Bobby or little Cindy. I know it might be hard for you to be away from them for 10 or 11 days while they're gallivanting around the country with the other parent.. but those times are so important.
It's not the quantity of time we spent with our children, it's the quality of time. If you look back at the memories of your childhood, you remember the quality time, not much about the day to day time.
You remember the special time. So, make sure you're always supporting the other parent's wishes, needs and desires and relationship, which leads to number three...
#3: Don’t “Future-Cast” With Children
Don’t ever tell your kids that you want to keep them at a certain age, or talk about brothers and sisters that have yet to be born.
What you need to spend time talking about is how things are right now and teach them about the day to day beauty of what life is all about.
If you desire other children, great, keep that between you and your significant other. But don't talk about it. Because if it doesn't happen, you're setting your child up for disappointment.
That's an adult thing to do.
Adults are always setting up their life to be disappointed, always talking about the future, instead of being present.
Yet children are the ultimate beings of presence. All they know is the present.
So stop future projecting all over this child and setting them up for disappointment, and allow them to just be the amazing, beautiful creatures of present time that they are. Remember you're never going to get time back.
So just enjoy the time with them.
Put the phones down. Don't text non-stop in front of them to show them that the phone is more important than they are. Include them in your life.
Talk to them, so they're able to communicate freely and openly, and know that there's a safe place to literally have all of this with their parents.
You're teaching them skills that will last a lifetime, so think about what you're doing on a daily basis, and just remember: they're here to be loved, not here to be molded and shaped into a little version of you.
Because, to tell you the truth, I don't want my daughter to be a version of me. I want her to be a version of herself.
The best version that she can be, because that's what love truly is.
The rest is just adult insecurities and fears that come out as we try to manipulate, and try to make our children into things that we want them to be.
Let go of a little bit of the control and allow the child to blossom as the child should.