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The Parent I Want to Be

colorsThe new year is always a great time for self-reflection.  So I thought I’d post about some general parenting tenets.  These are, of course, subjective, in that my aspirations as a parent might be different from yours.  But it might provide a jumping off point for you to consider your own goals.

1)  Be emotionally present ( a lot of the time.)

It’s impossible to be present all the time.  And beating myself up for not being omnipresent will only distance myself further from my daughter.

Instead, I’m going to aim to turn away from the computer and social media and tune into her as much as possible.  Yes, that’s vague, but it also means I’m not setting myself up for failure.

2)  Recognize that my child has her developmental challenges, and I’ll have mine.

My daughter is turning two, and obviously, the toddler stage will present her with many challenges she has to navigate.  But with that, I’ll come face to face with my own.

Every stage our children enter reveals a lot about our own character.  We’ll learn what growth we need to undertake as we respond to our children.

3)  Be compassionate to my child as she adapts to the world; be compassionate toward myself as I adapt to her.

It’s not easy, meeting the needs of another person and having to put those needs above our own.  It’s important to be kind to ourselves in acknowledging that, instead of expecting a superhuman level of selflessness.

Sometimes, we’re going to chafe at the sacrifices.  That doesn’t mean we won’t still make them.  It just means we need to allow ourselves to have feelings about it.

4)  By being in touch with my own feelings, I’m better able to help my child understand her own.

When I manage my frustration in front of my child, I teach her how to manage hers.  I’m leading by example.  Pretending to be perfect doesn’t fool our children.

By being transparent about the fact that I’m, say, struggling with irritability, I’m helping her identify and accept her own feelings.  I’m modeling how to deal with unpleasant feelings because they’re a part of life.

5)  Be emotionally responsive to my child.

I have to set limits, but I can do it with love, and with a full awareness of how that feels for my daughter.  It doesn’t diminish my authority to acknowledge that she doesn’t always like the power I have over her; it actually strengthens our emotional bond.

Letting her know that I’m always here for her (whether she likes it or not!) is my primary goal in 2014.  What’s yours?

Mother and daughter image available from Shutterstock.

The Parent I Want to Be

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). The Parent I Want to Be. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Jan 2014
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