Is There a Secret to Successful Parenting?
Over the years I’ve had more people than you would think ask me if there’s some particular
thing they can do to ensure they get parenting right. They never used the word ‘secret,’ but that
desire for a key or some other magic piece of information to unlock the mysteries of successful parenting is
Wanting to a know the ‘secret’ is a compelling thought and you can see it in much of our popular
entertainment both now and in the past. My favourite example is from the story of ‘Babe.’ Babe
is a sheep herding pig who with his uncanny abilities becomes a very valued member of his
fictional farm family. Eventually the day comes for the main sheep herding contest and Babe
must corral a set of sheep he doesn’t know. The sheep dog finds out that in order to get them in
to line Babe must use the right term which turns out to be, ‘Baa-ram-ewe! Baa-ram-ewe! To your
breed, your fleece, your clan be true etc.’ Of course Babe gets the information just in time and
triumphs for his owner at the contest.
Two important factors that form the basis of parenting
So like the story of Babe is there a secret to being a parent? Is there a magic key to delivering
to the world some few years from now, grown ups that are kind, decent and all around good
people? Well, I wouldn’t say there was one thing. I’d say instead that there are two vitally
important factors that form the basis of parenting, that will make that outcome much more likely.
So what are they? Well, they are love and leadership.
Love is obviously what forms the basis of the parent child relationship and it’s what I’m happy to
say, I’ve yet to find lacking in any parent that I’ve worked with. Love is that overwhelming
emotion that you’ll do anything for that little person standing in front of you and of course having
them know that intrinsically through your actions every day. That means lots of cuddles of
course and encouragement and always thinking about the welfare of your child, something that
comes naturally to the vast majority of parents.
Where love starts to go off on a track is if it’s allowed to get in the way of more practical
considerations. When we love someone there is a natural desire to give them what they want,
what they ask for and what they think they need. It’s very easy to equate love with satisfying
desire and that’s where we get in to danger territory because that’s not the same thing at all. In
fact, the hardest part about loving is to sometimes deny the people you love certain things that
are not in their best interest. That’s what leadership is all about.
When your child wants a biscuit after refusing to eat lunch and you give them one just to have
them be quiet, that’s not a loving gesture even though you might at the time console yourself in
to thinking it is.
When you allow your children to dictate when they want you to do something and how they want
you to do it, allowing that bossiness to stand means they are leading, not you. As children are
intrinsically designed to look for leadership and boundaries from their parents, expect it and only
feel comfortable if they have it, backing down from the leadership position unfortunately tends to
bring more difficulty, not less.
Love and leadership then go hand in hand. Get those two aspects of parenting right and most
of everything else will follow smoothly and come surprisingly naturally. If you think about it, it’s
what generations of parents have done in the past before there were books and Dvd’s and
endless scientific parenting soundbites. In the confusing world of parenting advice, if there’s
any secret at all, that’s it.