Creating your recipe for parenting

It’s been said many times before – parenting is the most challenging but rewarding job in the world. From the moment you find out that there is a baby on the way, there are decisions to be made and the decision-making continues until they leave your care as adults. Some of the decisions are relatively easy such as what name to give them or how to celebrate their birthdays. Others are far more complicated such as where to send them to school, what consequences will follow bad behaviour, and what freedom to allow them when they’re older.

Making these decisions is far easier if you have already created your parenting recipe. The recipe will be based on your family values. Having a strong sense of the values you want to instil in your children gives you a template to which you can refer when issues arise. If honesty and integrity are important to you, then you will reward openness and confront untruths. If sportsmanship is essential in your mind, then you will encourage them to participate in team sports. If tolerance and compassion have the highest priority in your list of values, then it will be important to choose a school that promotes such ideals and exposes them to a wide range of students. And if a strong sense of family matters most to you, then you will establish family rituals and restrict social outings to non-family times.

The best way to create your parenting recipe is to think back to your own childhood and ask your partner to do the same (even if your partner is not the other biological parent). Discuss what parts of your childhoods you’d like to replicate and which aspects you’d like to leave behind. If you’re a single parent, it’s simply a matter of considering your own background in the same way. There may be other role models in your lives that you would like to use as a guide for how to raise happy and healthy children. It’s then possible to take a cup of your childhood and add a pinch of someone else’s upbringing and come up with a fabulously unique recipe.

When situations arise, your reactions will be less ad hoc and more consistent because you will always be referring back to the recipe. Your children will come to learn why you make the decisions you do. And if circumstances change, the recipe can simply be revised.

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