Take a Parenting Check-up

By Claudia and David Arp

One of the scary things about parenting is that it's a temporary job. Our active parenting days are numbered and we need to count them. How many parenting days do you still have? If your youngest child is five years old, you can assume he will be leaving the nest at around age eighteen, so that gives you thirteen years or 156 months or 4,745 days. Since we all know how fast the days zip by, before you know it, your job as resident parent will be over. That knowledge should motivate all of us to take a regular parenting check-up.

How are you doing as a parent? Often we concentrate on our children's behavior and not on our own. Why not look at your behavior from your child's perspective? In a survey of 100,000 children, children were asked what they wanted most in their parents. Check out the top ten answers and evaluate how you are doing in each area.


Children want parents who don't argue in front of them.

  Children tend to do what they see their parents doing, not necessarily what their parents say. How do you handle differences? Can you disagree and share your negative feelings without attacking the other person or defending yourself? If so, your children will learn how to process anger and resolve conflict in positive ways.

Children want parents who treat each family member the same.

  Treating your children the same does not mean treating them equally. Each child is unique, but each needs the same love and understanding. Evaluate your relationship with each child.

Parents who are honest.

  The parent who says, "Tell the telemarketer (who is on the phone) I'm not here," may not realize what he is modeling to his child. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?

Parents who are tolerant of others.

  When parents are tolerant of others, children learn to be patient with those who are different from them. In what ways have you modeled tolerance to your children?

Parents who welcome their friends to the home.

  If the gang is ganging up at your house, then you will know where your own children are! Cultivate an open-home policy and get to know their friends.

Parents who build a team spirit with their children.

  As children move into the adolescent years, parents who cultivate a team spirit will have a greater influence on their children. How can you foster a team spirit in your family?

Parents who answer their questions.

  Have you been guilty of saying, "I'm busy right now. Let's talk about this later. " Then later never happens. Take time today to answer your children's questions and when you don't know the answer, admit it and offer to help find the answer.

Parents who discipline them when needed, but not in front of others, especially their friends.

  Amazingly, children really do want limits, but don't count on them volunteering that information!

Parents who concentrate on good points instead of weak ones.

  Look at your child as an incomplete jigsaw puzzle and concentrate on the beautiful developing picture instead of the missing pieces. Make a list of your child's strengths and look for appropriate times to point them out.

Parents who are consistent.

  We were not always consistent but we consistently strove to be. Be encouraged. The occasional inconsistency will not ruin your children. But your children need to know that your love and limits are consistent. With boundaries comes security. Is there an area in which you need to work on being more consistent? How do you rate?

We hope you picked up some tips that will keep you from being a behavior problem to your children. And that from time to time you will take a parenting check up and wisely number your days.

2003 David & Claudia Arp. The Arps are marriage educators and authors of over 30 books including 10 Great Dates and Answering the 8 Cries of the Spirited Child. You can view their resources at www.marriagealive.com

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