What Are the Essential Characteristics of a Good Parent?

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr Google

    Parenting is an incredibly demanding job and you may have some days where you wonder if you have what it takes to be an effective parent. The job is easier if you have cultivated the right characteristics before your first child arrives on the scene. If you find you lack a few of these characteristics, you can acquire them in the process of rearing your child.

    Active Participant

    Parents need to be active participants in the life of their child. Your child learns by watching you, so be aware of what you project. Embrace your parenting job with enthusiasm, compassion, a sense of humor and a clear memory of what it’s like to be a child. Take the time to know your child’s personality and parent your child based on her strengths and weaknesses, according to family relationship expert, Dr. Gary Smalley. If your child is loyal, consistent and compliant because she wants your approval, a disapproving look or a soft word could rectify a misstep. A strong-willed, take-charge and independent child, however, requires more discipline.

    Nurturer

    Whether you are male or female, you can nurture your child. You can demonstrate unconditional love by addressing the behavior and not the character of the child when applying correction, advises KidsHealth. Express forgiveness when your child shows remorse for a misdeed. If you know what behaviors are mistakes or age-appropriate exploration, you can make allowances for those behaviors in ways that encourage your child to grow and learn. Employ positive reinforcement when you set limits and keep your expectations realistic and appropriate to your child’s development and abilities. Your toddler probably won’t sit still for several hours and your teen isn’t going to blindly accept everything you say.

    Teacher

    A large part of your job as parent is to teach your child what he needs to become a productive and responsible adult. Model the behavior you want to see and take advantage of teachable moments to impart wisdom and common sense to your child. Your child will respond best to lessons that are creative, fun and impart a sense of adventure and discovery, according to Dr. Lisa Marotta, a private practice psychologist in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Set clear limits for your child’s behavior and employ logical consequences when your child complies or defies those limits. Your child should know that you have confidence in his ability to learn and respond to new challenges.

    Communicator

    Family communication isn’t always easy, but it is a priority if you want to be an effective parent. Actively listen when your child speaks, looking directly at her and making it clear that what she has to say is important to you. You can validate her feelings and repeat the important points in your own words to make sure you’re both on the same page. Negotiate with your child, presenting clear choices whenever possible. Always treat your child with kindness and respect, giving praise and encouragement when you have the opportunity, advises Dr. Marotta.

    About the Author

    Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

    Photo Credits

    • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images