“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

-James Baldwin

Whether you plan on becoming a parent or you’re unexpectedly entering parenthood, it’s important to ensure you’ll be a good one. A good parent is one who raises a well-adjusted, self-sufficient child who becomes a valuable member of society.

The following nine steps will tell you if you’re truly prepared to be a good parent, and if not, how to achieve that.

Good Parent

1. Reflect on your upbringing

Was your childhood stable? Did you grow up in a happy, healthy family where children were heard and understood? How did your parents interact with you? What methods of discipline did they use? All these questions will provide answers to the parent you will be by default. When we have unresolved traumas from childhood we end up projecting them onto our own children.

Do: Understand how your history will affect your parenting. Work on overcoming your inner struggles.

2. Make sure you’re emotionally stable

How well do you handle stress? Do you become emotionally unavailable in stressful situations? Do you lose your temper quickly? While being a parent is an amazing experience, it’s also a stressful job. So determine how well you deal with stress. It can tell you how you will react when your children push your buttons (and at a certain age they do so daily).

Do: Learn how to deal with your emotions constructively so your children can do the same.

3. Consider your finances

It goes without saying that before you have children you must have the ability to meet their basic needs (food, shelter and a safe environment). But we all know that meeting a child’s basic needs is not enough to successfully bring up a child in our modern world. Unfortunately, access to good education, healthcare and safety comes at a steep cost. Do you have a plan in place to afford all this? Or, do you hope to achieve financial stability by the time your child is of school age?

Do: Work on reaching financial stability. It will allow you to increase your child’s chances of succeeding in life.

4. Check the health of your relationship

How would you rate your relationship with your partner? Did you grow up with parents who had a healthy relationship? We are prone to choosing partners that represent the role models we grew up with (our caregivers). So if your parents’ relationship was dysfunctional, you are likely to end up in the same situation. Unhealthy relationships leave children with emotional scars that affect their interpersonal and romantic relationships as adults.

Do: Avoid repeating history. Address any problems that negatively impact the health of your relationship.

5. Know why you want to become a parent

Do you want to become a parent because the clock is ticking? Do you feel pressured into becoming a parent by your partner or other family members? The right time to have a child is whenever you feel you can raise that child as you would’ve liked to be raised. And even if you’re unexpectedly thrown into parenthood you can still be a good parent. Simply be aware of what it takes to raise a well-adjusted child. It will motivate you to take the necessary steps to achieve it.

Do: If possible, plan ahead for having children and do so when you feel ready. If it’s an unplanned pregnancy, do your best to be as informed and prepared as possible.

6. Ensure you have enough social support

The importance of social support for a new parent can’t be overstated, yet it may be underrated. There’s good reason for the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”. Raising children can be overwhelming and exhausting. Parents need a break sometimes, and they can’t always afford childcare, especially in the early years of a child’s life. In addition, when you go through a difficult time in life your social support will be there to help you sail the rough parenting seas.

Do: If you have the ability, stay close to your support system. If not, become a member of parenting groups, or look for support within your local community.

7. Know the limitations of parenthood

When you accept the responsibility of becoming a parent you relinquish your rights to single living. That means sleepless nights are no longer a choice, they’re a requirement. As a parent, you have to share your quiet space with a not so quiet little person. So let go of perfectionism, and be willing to put your needs last. Because once you have children, everything revolves around them. All the decisions you will make will be for the best interest of your child, even if they are not the best for you.

Do: Be prepared to become selfless!

8. Decide the type of parent you’d like to be

It’s helpful to give some thought to the parent you’d like to be when you do have children. Think of what you liked and disliked about the way your parents raised you. What would you like to bring along (or not) from it on your parenting journey? Paint a realistic picture of your life as a parent. If your expectations are too high, you’ll feel like a failure. And if your expectations are too low you’ll be taken off guard by the complexity of parenting.

Do: Learn as much as you can about the best approaches to parenting and discipline techniques.

9. Discuss parenting styles with your partner

Mismatched parenting styles are one of the biggest sources of conflict when couples have children. For instance, you may prefer an authoritarian approach (strict and controlling) to child rearing while your partner is more of an authoritative parent (warm and communicative). When your parenting values don’t align the power struggles begin. And when this happens, not only do you hurt your relationship and children, but you undermine your parent authority, which leaves children confused and more likely to misbehave.

Do: If necessary, come to a compromise on your parenting styles and stick with the same rules.

Bonus: 5 Good parenting habits I learned and practice as a mom of three

1. Give your child at least 10 minutes of your undivided, one-on-one attention everyday.
2. Let tiny mischief slide, it will make for a calmer household.
3. Ask them what was the best and worst part of their day.
4. Tuck them in bed every night and remind them they’re loved.
5. When you run out of patience, remain mindful of how quickly they’re growing up and changing.

Here is a fun quiz: Will you make a good parent? 

You may also like: Become A More Mindful Person: 5 Easy Steps

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