THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY–FULFILMENT FOR ALL
Personal fulfilment comes in the process of helping others. The only way to develop a prime-time parenting personality is to immerse yourself optimistically in family relationships & work to make these relationships as meaningful & harmonious as possible. Book learning, theorising, & philosophising cannot substitute for practical experience. However, immersing yourself in family relationships that will lead to fulfilment in others does not mean that you must deny your own needs.
Your children may thrive when you put yourself first occasionally–if their basic needs are being met & they are assured of your unchanging love. Children benefit by living with parents who feel personally fulfilled.
Regardless of your personality, you can contribute to your own fulfilment by following these five steps.
Step 1: Concentrate on the Positive.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY
Your attitude toward life, toward your job, & toward your family is vitally important. It can affect the entire atmosphere of your home. A positive attitude is conducive to a child’s growth. A negative attitude can have a deleterious effect.
Attitudes are contagious. One downcast family member can discourage everyone else. The opposite is also true.
Attitudes have a magnetic quality. Positive attitudes tend to attract others; negative attitudes repel. Prime-time parents must realise the devastating effect that negative attitudes can have on family morale. The following personality traits can lead to such a negative, devitalised attitude. I call them the deadly D’s. Don’t let them crowd out your chances for personal happiness, satisfaction, & fulfilment.
Dependency: A dependent parent tends to live his life through others–even through his children, forcing them to meet his needs for companionship, support, & decision-making. Single parents must be particularly careful to avoid the tendency to become overly dependent & expect their children to fulfil all their needs.
Denial: Parents who cannot admit their own mistakes or faults seriously jeopardize their relationship with their children. This kind of denial is equally deadly when parents refuse to face family problems or difficulties, & continue on a collision course without seeking help.
Defensiveness: A defensive parent takes everything personally & interprets casual remarks, & even compliments, as attacks or insults. This type of parent is a master at driving children away.
Defiance: The defiant parent boldly resists the authority or opposition of others. He is openly hostile & challenges those who do not share his views. He often appears to have a superiority complex & tramples those around him in order to get what he wants. As children grow older they naturally develop their own ideals. If their emerging values are ignored or ridiculed by a parent with a superior attitude, the children are not likely to spend much time with that parent.
Demeaning: This type of parent constantly puts other people down with comments that degrade them or cause them to think less of themselves. But when children hear words like, “Can’t you ever do anything right?” they are not likely to improve their behaviour or actions. In fact, such words usually have the opposite effect.
Depression: A depressed parent feels so woeful about his World & himself that he tends to withdraw from others & the responsibilities of the household. He is consumed by feelings of gloom, discouragement, & inadequacy. When parents lose hope in the possibility of a better life, they cease any efforts to make changes. This attitude affects every member of the family, & children grow up with one goal in mind–to escape the situation as soon as possible.
+ + +
Can you find something positive in problems, pressures, conflicts, illnesses, crises, failures, disappointments, & less than ideal situations? Consider some of the following possibilities:
- Children can learn how to deal with problems by watching their parents cope.
- Experiencing negative situations fosters a greater appreciation of the positive.
- Solving problems together can bring the family closer together.
- A special sense of satisfaction develops when problems are solved.
- Learning to develop coping procedures to deal with small problems will give you confidence to deal with bigger problems.
List the negative aspects of your life on one side of a page & then write at least one positive aspect of each on the opposite side. When you are tempted to feel discouraged or depressed about the negatives, think about each positive point & be thankful.
Step 2: Realise Your True Value.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY
A low sense of self-worth usually develops through years of interaction. People learn that they can’t do things as well as others, that they are poor decision-makers, or that they make too many mistakes. To rise above these feelings is by far the hardest task of the prime-time parent. But it is vitally important if one is to grow.
Step 3: Get to Know Yourself and Accept What You Can’t Change.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY
Although you can choose to change your attitudes, your behavior, & your habits, there are aspects of your life that are difficult to change–your physical looks, for example, a physical handicap, the family situation, your job, your previous mistakes. If a positive, dynamic attitude is to prevail, these aspects of life must be accepted. Don’t waste valuable energy by worrying, fretting & complaining about the things you can’t control. Accept them, and channel this energy toward improving those aspects of life that can be changed.
Step 4: Meet Your Own Needs without Sacrificing the Family.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY
The logical consequence of realising your value as a person is to accept the fact that you have certain needs that must not be denied or repressed. Your responsibility then is to develop a plan to meet your needs without sacrificing family needs.
Almost all parents need:
1) Private time of their own;
2) Supportive adult friends;
3) Time to pursue their hobbies & interests; and
4) Someone to take over the household tasks occasionally.
Prime-time parents can meet these needs in various ways.
Need #1: Finding a private time of your own:
- Regularly schedule quality private time. The amount of time is less important than the quality of that time. Giving up private time is analogous to forgetting to eat a meal. Missing an occasional meal will not noticeably affect your weight, but allowing this to happen on a daily basis will soon have a significant impact. Missing a private time occasionally will probably have no noticeable effect on your own sense of satisfaction. But continual neglect of this need will reduce your sense of personal satisfaction & harm the quality of family relationships.
- Use travel time as your personal time.
- Get up an hour before the family & do something you really want to do.
- Combine your private time with an activity that is uplifting or beneficial. Many prime-time parents combine exercise time with their private think time.
- Reserve the first 15 minutes after you get home from work as your private uninterrupted time. If the family knows how important this time is for you, they will be happy to allow you these few minutes alone.
- Buy a headset or earphones & put on your favourite music.
- Reserve lunch hours for yourself. Find a comfortable, private place & kick off your shoes. Put your feet up.
Need #2: Supportive adult friends.
- Be friendly. Don’t hesitate to be the first one to speak. Show a genuine interest in others. Discuss the other person’s interests.
- Seek friends who have families with children of a similar age. When you plan activities together, the children can enjoy themselves & you can enjoy adult friendship.
- Invite friends home. Don’t isolate yourself by using the family as an excuse.
- Take a honeymoon at least once a year.
- Offer to help another working parent when help is needed. When you see the need, fill it without waiting to be asked.
- Volunteer your time to help in some worthwhile cause.
Need #3: Finding time to pursue your own hobbies & interests.
- Include the family. Encourage them to participate with you. Help them get started on a similar project that you can work on together. Share your interests with the family.
- Set up a regular time each week to pursue your hobby or interest.
Step 5: Establish Balanced Family Relationships.–THE PRIME-TIME PARENTING PERSONALITY
Prime-time parents must establish balanced family relationships if they hope to find personal fulfilment for themselves & for each person in the family. There are three essential relational qualities that must be kept in constant balance among family members to insure healthy interactions. These are love, freedom, & responsibility.
Love is the first & most crucial ingredient for a balanced, harmonious family life. If love is freely given & freely accepted with no strings attached, individual freedom & responsibility can develop.
Love is the strongest power that we all have at our disposal. Experiencing it, & helping others to experience it, will change the most hopeless & discouraging circumstances. Love can even bring major family upheaval & disorder into balance.
Freedom, especially the freedom to make choices, is a vital factor in everyone’s life. The freedom to make choices is enhanced in love relationships because each person is assured that if he makes a poor choice & fails, he will still be loved.
Responsibility is the third vital quality in relationships. Taking responsibility can mean two things: 1) Fulfilling the duties that are clearly yours; and 2) Taking responsibility for the decisions that you make.
If any family member leans to an extreme in any of these three areas, his life will be thrown out of balance. If a parent’s life is out of balance it affects the lives of those he is living with. It’s similar to the building of a tower. If the foundation stones are not properly balanced, anything placed on top of those stones will lean. As the tower grows, the lean becomes more accentuated, & the lack of balance threatens to destroy the whole structure. In the family, parents are the foundation stones. If their lives are not balanced, the rest of the family is pushed out of balance, & it becomes almost impossible for them to experience personal fulfilment. Other family members are forced to adjust to the tilt or compensate for the imbalance.