I have been reading some parenting books lately. I love to read newspaper parenting articles, and advice books, blogs and magazine articles because I love to get new ideas. I've read an article about how French parenting is better than American here. I've read a book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua and her view point of why she thinks the Chinese method of parenting is better than the American method. I've read Teaching Your Children Values by Linda and Richard Eyre. I just recently got through reading The Children You Want with the Kids You Have by Marie Ricks. What I have learned is this: No one knows how to be the perfect parent. Everybody thinks they know the right way, but what works for one may not work for another. I do not think the Chinese way is the right way to parent or the French way is the right way or truthfully the American way is the right way. What we need to learn from all of this is that kids need loving parents that will help guide them through life to become successful adults in the future. Children also need their parents to be just that, parents-not friends. They need to be taught values and the importance of a hard work ethic. They need to know that their parents have got their back and will be their advocate. I think you can take little snippets from each book or article you read and try to apply it to your life. After reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, it did make me want to push my kids harder in school and music. Do I want to push my kids so hard that they are practicing piano for 6-8 hours a day and never get a play date- No. After reading The Children You Want with the Kids You Have, I wanted to try harder at home to get my house organized and my kids helping more with the chores. Am I going to do the master plan using index cards- probably not. I think you can take things from these books to help you become a better parent and apply it to your life. They all offer great advice but I truthfully feel that there isn't one perfect way to parent. You do the best you can do. Some of the books I have read are written by very educated people, yet I still feel that no one knows the perfect way to parent. We all just do what we know or have learned and try our best to love our children in the only ways we know how.
From the classes I took in college about child development they say there are 3 different types of parenting. First is authoritarian, second is permissive and third is authoritative. Authoritarian parents always try to be in control and exert their control on the children. These parents set strict rules to try to keep order, and they usually do this without much expression of warmth and affection. Permissive parents give up most control to their children. Parents make few, if any, rules, and the rules that they make are usually not consistently enforced. They don't want to be tied down to routines. They want their children to feel free. They do not set clear boundaries or expectations for their children's behavior and tend to accept in a warm and loving way, however the child behaves. Authoritative parents help children learn to be responsible for themselves and to think about the consequences of their behavior. Parents do this by providing clear, reasonable expectations for their children and explanations for why they expect their children to behave in a particular manner. They monitor their children's behavior to make sure that they follow through on rules and expectations. They do this in a warm and loving manner. They often, "try to catch their children being good" and reinforcing the good behavior, rather than focusing on the bad.
I want to be the authoritative parent of course. The perfect parent, but I find that sometimes I am the authoritarian and sometimes I am the permissive parent but most of the time I am striving to be the authoritative parent.
Is it just me or do others feel after they read all of these parenting books and articles that you are not living up to all of the expectations of being a good parent. My house doesn't always look perfect, my kids are smart but not #1 in the class, my kids aren't perfectly disciplined, my kids fight, there are dishes in the sink that are dirty, I have a crazy schedule, dinner is not ready (I haven't even thought of what to make yet actually), the kids are not sleeping through the night every night. What? you might say. Well one has nightmares, one is a baby and the other wakes up from the snoring of #2 and then everybody is up sometimes, I just found crayons and old popcorn underneath the couch cushions, etc.
Yet, after reading I also feel like, "Hey, I am doing okay. My house is decent, my children mind, I did the laundry, my kids are excelling in school, they did their chores, my children feel loved and bring me notes that tell me how much they love me, when they are sick-I am there feeding them chicken noodle soup and popcicles and reading them stories and making sure they breathe all night long, my kids get up and get themselves dressed and make their own beds without being asked sometimes, my babies started to sleep through the night at 6 weeks, they are learning independence, etc.
So for all of you parents out there who are trying to read books about being better parents. Guess what- you usually already are one. Give yourself a pat on the back and know that you are doing a good job and to keep up the good work.