Here’s how to up your parenting skills to superpower level for the new year.
Parenting is a tough job. Your commitment, love and genuine desire to help your children grow and thrive are key to super parent success in 2020.
The new year offers an opportunity to refocus and reprioritize. For working parents, that means taking some time to think about your family dynamic.
If 2019 was a year of challenges, confusion or frustration, the new year is a chance to switch up your routines. You can find a better way for your family members to support and relate to each other.
Traditionally, parents depend on information from friends, family and community members to formulate parenting plans. This information isn’t always as helpful as it seems. Even the most well-meaning advice can be rooted in ignorance, superstition or culturally sanctioned trauma responses.
Rather than depend on inaccurate sources, look to psychologists and educational experts for advice. Through books, videos, online courses and counseling, you can use conscious parenting techniques that help children become mentally, physically and emotionally healthy adults.
Become a Super Parent
Super parents have found ways to combat changing social issues and views on discipline. They create smart limits that keep kids safe while teaching them how to use their own reasoning skills.
What does it mean to be a super parent in the new decade? How can you use these principles in your parenting plan to encourage long-term and healthy growth in your children?
Super Parents and Changing Roles
The basic family structure in America is changing rapidly. Until fairly recently, the nuclear family consisted of two parents and their children. It was the standard.
In 2019, the United States Census Bureau discovered fewer than 70 percent of today’s children live in two-parent households. The remaining 30 percent live with a single parent or under the care of a legal guardian.
Even the two-parent paradigm isn’t the same. Changing economic and cultural landscapes are bringing family members like aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents into the household. According to The New York Times, 64 million Americans lived in multigenerational households in April 2018. These numbers are expected to continue to impact family cultures throughout the 2020s.
Because of these changing dynamics, parents are sometimes forced into multiple roles. Adults are expected to provide financially for the entire family group, attend to child care and arrange as well as facilitate care for elderly or medically challenged family members.
Successfully negotiating this conglomeration of duties often seems to require superpowers. Any parent that can juggle a series of often conflicting requirements can be called a super parent.
While every household is different, there are five essential traits all super parents share:
- Ability to adjust their mindsets and techniques based on new information
- Desire to raise their children to be the best version of themselves
- Effective communication with family and community members
- Reliable network of family and community members to provide assistance when needed
- Strong sense of responsibility for those in their care
The truth is, you don’t have to have superpowers to be a super parent. All you need is a support system and a genuine desire to build a healthy family dynamic.
Find Your Super Parent Powers
How can you get in touch with your inner super parent for the new year?
- Avoid overscheduling. Children get stressed out by too many activities, just like adults. Resist the temptation to fill your child’s schedule with extracurricular activities. While these activities are known for boosting brain-power and social opportunities, they can also limit your child’s natural curiosity, increase stress and contribute to performance-based anxiety or even depression. Instead, leave time for kids to explore on their own. This builds real self-confidence.
- Bring fun into your family time. You should enjoy spending time with your family. Find physical activities that everyone in your family can participate in. This strengthens bonds and relieves stress.
- Create smart limits for managing devices. According to the Mayo Clinic, too much screen time has been linked to sleep problems, obesity, behavioral issues, lack of social skills and may contribute to long-term problems. Rules should allow your children to take advantage of the growing influence of technology without it becoming a hazard.
- Establish rituals for parent self-care. You deserve a break too! Make sure you take time to indulge in hobbies, hang out with your friends, or relax on a regular basis. A routine of self-care is the best way to preserve the energy you need to carry out the balancing act that defines super parenting.
- Focus on consequence-based discipline. Teach your children self-control by allowing them to experience the consequences of their actions. Set boundaries and clearly define what will happen if these boundaries are crossed. Stay consistent for best results.
- Make empathy a family value. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings and point of view. This vital skill makes it easier to diffuse family tensions and live a happier life every day.
- Make family meals non-optional. Eating dinner (without television) as a family unit on a regular basis offers a number of benefits for parents and children. Making family dinner a requirement at least three days each week is the simplest way to encourage togetherness while fighting obesity, self-esteem issues and other problems.
- Prioritize communication. Healthy, honest and effective communication is the foundation of any relationship. Incorporate communication into your family routine by scheduling frequent family meetings, giving children time each day to talk to you about their own issues, and modeling respectful language skills.
The goal of any parenting plan should be to provide children with the necessary tools to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships. These techniques are simple enough for working parents to integrate into their schedules without sacrificing too much personal time and attention.
Adapting Super Parent Protocols for Special Needs
Special needs parents are already super parents! The additional weight of rearranging life to accommodate children’s individual needs can be substantial.
Special needs super parents can still use conscious parenting techniques to build stronger bonds and healthier attitudes in their children. A few easy tweaks can help you create a modern parenting plan that works for everyone in your family, regardless of their challenges.
Picky eaters are a big issue in special needs households. If there are no medical reasons your child can’t consume certain foods, make trying new foods a fun game. Offer extra screen time or their favorite physical activities as a reward.
For special needs families, the community is key. Establish a strong network of caregivers, educational consultants and medical personnel to answer your questions and provide expert guidance when you need it most.
Parenting self-care is even more important for special needs families. Avoid caregiver burnout by sharing duties with family and community members.
Finally, all parents and family members can benefit from the input of a professional family counselor. Group or solo sessions with a professional give you a sympathetic ear and honest feedback. This allows you to customize your super parent strategy for maximum benefit.
Anthony Cupo is a trained mindfulness facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years.