I'm in a human development class this semester. I've taken several of these types of classes before. As a psychology major in undergrad, learning the theories of Piaget and Erikson was interesting. Sometimes (often) I would apply these theories to my own life, but it all still felt so abstract.
Now, I am looking at it all through a parent lens. I question myself often. Question myself as a mother. Applying theories and techniques to the reality of my life as a parent sometimes has me leaving class with tight ball of anxiety at the pitt of my stomach. Am I doing the right things by my child? Am I nurturing him and disciplining him in a way that will help him to reach his full physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development potential?
So I thought it was time - time to sit down, think, and record the kind of parent I want to be. I feel like I often fail myself and fail Jack by not being the parent I want to be. I'm tired or busy... there are one million excuses to "let things slide", but does my child get to pay the consequences? I know I cannot be perfect, but I refuse to sop actively bettering myself for my family.
The kind of parent I want to be is patient. I believe in structure. Bed times, bath times, nap times, etc. I believe that when Jack knows how his day is going to go, anxiety and room for uncertainty can be lessened. This is something that will always benefit him. No matter what happens in school or anywhere else, home is consistency and comfort. At the same time, I want to be fluid and patient among this structure. Things happen, frustration happens, tantrums happen - I want to be patient and allow my child to grow and learn.
The kind of parent I want to be is understanding. I don't want to have unrealistic expectations of what Jack should be able to know or do. I don't want to set my child up to fail because I am not properly informed of what he can and cannot know, understand, or do.
The kind of parent I want to be is present. This is hard. I have my own things going on and checking out is so easy - but my life and world outside of home is not Jack's (or John's) problem. My child deserves my presence. Getting frustrated or annoyed because there is not one second of quiet is unfair. I want babies, children, teens, etc. to know that their mom is there, present, listening, seeking to understand, and accepting them.
The kind of parent I want to be is calm. Yelling - It's so easy. It's an instant release of frustration. But I am a model. I cannot get mad at Jack (at any point in his life) for behaving in ways that I, myself, do as well. When Jack yells "no" in my face I can't really get upset if I am guilty of doing the same to him. I have to teach him respect through my actions. Showing Jack, John, myself, and others respect is the only way my child will learn the true meaning of respect.
Maybe this list is too short. Maybe striving to be a patient, understanding, present, and calm parent isn't enough. But if I can check those things off in every word, action, and gesture toward my son my hope is that he will know and feel my unwavering, constant, and unconditional love.
Being a parent just keeps getting harder, yet more rewarding every day.