Quality Parenting: The Underlying Principles
When you raise a child, you are creating the future. Not just his or her future, but everyone’s future. The results of your parenting will ripple and spread through the years, affecting thousands, and eventually millions of people. If you want the future to be better than the present, then you had better learn the principles of quality and how they apply to being a parent, for that is all that quality is: making things better.
No matter how good or not-so-good parent you are or think you are, you can be better. There are no upper limits on quality in parenting. The first, necessary, and most important step is to WANT to be a better parent. You have to choose, every day, whether you want to be a worse parent, stay the same, or be a better parent. There are no other choices. Being a better parent doesn’t “just happen.” If you don’t choose to be a better parent, you are effectively choosing one of the other two options.
This also happens to be the first major principle of quality: Quality is an Attitude. Quality is wanting things to be better. It is aligning your sights in the direction of improvement.
The next most important step to improving your quality as a parent is to give yourself some credit. You deserve a lot of credit, probably more than you get. The very fact that you are willing to raise a child, to take that responsibility, in an uncertain world and against all odds, gives you high status. If you are part of a couple, you share that status, and had better acknowledge it in each other, at least.
Because opinions vary so widely about how to raise children, and because many people are taught that criticizing people is a way to help them (which it isn’t), you may sometimes be criticized for how you are raising your children. This is when that credit you just gave yourself is important. You are doing something difficult, bravely. You are trying to get better at it. Others may try to sway you toward their way of thinking. But as long as you keep that Quality Attitude, and know you are working toward improvement, you can let their words roll off. Welcome to the second principle of quality: Quality Leads to Opposition.
The third major principle of quality, in parenting and everything else, is that Quality Takes Time. Small changes add up to big improvements, but not usually in huge dramatic leaps. Every time you take one small action, say one small word, that will help your child grow up happy and strong and ethical, and so make the future better, you have moved one step further up the path of quality parenting.
So what are these small actions and words? You have to decide that, as well. The tests are simple.
First, ask yourself what attitudes you don’t like in other people, and teach the opposite attitudes to your child. Treat him or her with the attitudes you want him or her to learn. For example, if you don’t like people who interrupt you, then listen to your child, from infancy onward, without interrupting. If you don’t like people to hit you or shout at you … well, you get the idea.
Second, and this is a bit harder, ask yourself what attitudes or behaviors you are not fond of in yourself, and try not to pass them on to your child. If you are not as neat and tidy as you wish you were, for instance, make an effort to demonstrate being neat to your child.
Quality parenting is not about being perfect. It is about moving in that direction, trying to improve. In the example above, you might still not be as tidy as you wish. But if you can make something neat that you normally wouldn’t, even once, so your child can see you do it, that is improvement. That is increasing your quality as a parent. Every small step you make in that direction is valuable. They add up, and build on each other.
As you learn more about the principles of quality, and the basic quality actions, you will find more and more ways to apply them to parenting. The above three major principles are just the beginning. For now, remember the motto: Improving quality creates a better future, for everyone.