What is the one good parenting tip that will make the biggest difference in the life of your child? This will affect both the quality of your child's life and the quality of your relationship. Before I tell you, I want you
to ask yourself the question. Sit still, focus for a moment and ask yourself what is the most crucial aspect of parenting? What is essential to the healthy growth and development of your child? The reason I ask you to ask yourself this question is that it will reveal your deepest belief about parenting.
Write down your most important parenting tip. Don't say it in your head—write it down in black and white—so you cannot change it later. If you're having trouble coming up with one core belief, pretend your grown child has had a child and has come to you, asking for your most important parenting advice.
Did you write down your parenting tip? Don't proceed until you have or you'll destroy the power of this exercise and miss out on learning something that could deepen your relationship with your child.
Now, think about your own upbringing. Think about how your parents treated you, how they responded when you were in need, how they shaped your feelings about yourself. Distill their actions into a statement. Based on how they raised you, what would you say was the core belief that guided their behavior. Imagine you went to them when you were expecting a child and you asked, "What is your most important parenting tip?" What would they say? Write it down. If it's different for each parent, then write the word "mother" and her belief and "father" and his. Don't write a book—get to the point—write one sentence.
Compare your parenting tip with your parents'. Is it similar? If so, how does it feel to know that you are raising your child with the same core belief with which your parents raised you? Does this feel uncomfortable? Are you shocked? Horrified? Or do you feel good about passing on what your parents passed to you? If your beliefs are different from your parents, make sure that your parenting tip accurately depicts how you currently treat your child, rather than what you believe to be ideal behavior. Be honest now.
If your parenting tip is different from your parents, compare it again. Which belief has more heart? Which is more patient, understanding and compassionate? Which belief is more likely to grow up a child who feels good about herself? Do any of the beliefs that you have recorded reveal an inherent dislike for children? How about a need to control them? How do you feel about what you have uncovered?
Take a closer look at your parenting tip. How would you feel if this were the core belief that your parents had used to raise you? How would your life have been different?
Send me your core beliefs by clicking on the Contact Us link to the left (make sure to write the words "Parenting Tip" as the subject: first write your belief and then each of your parents. Distinguish your parents' beliefs by writing the words "mom" and "dad." I promise to keep your information confidential and will use it to compile data that I will aggregate and report back to all who have participated in this essential exercise. If you've read this far and haven't done the exercise, do it now before you read any further. This is a life-changing exercise. If you are honest, you will be blessed with insight.
Once you've sent me your parenting tip, I will reply with what I have found is the core belief that works time and time again to raise children who are caring, compassionate and who enjoy relationships with their parents that are based on love and mutual respect.
If you enjoyed this exercise and want to read more about my work, buy a copy of my book, Keepers of the Children. This award-winning book combines Native American ideas (that are based on the concept of stewardship) with cutting edge psychology to show parents how to raise children to develop their strengths and lead uniquely purposeful and fulfilling lives. If you consider yourself a very religious person, don't let native ideas put you off. Native philosophy is not a religion, but a way of creating relationships in the world that will not conflict with your faith. This book is for any parent (of any creed or color) who is open to ideas that are effective and resourceful in raising healthy, self-directed kids—kids who will grow into adults who will be lights unto our world. The gift you give your children is the gift you give yourself. Start by opening up your mind and heart—buy a copy of my book. I promise that it is different from any parenting book you have ever read.
Remember to send me your parenting tip. I hope this exercise opened up a window in your heart and mind. And after you've read Keepers of the Children be sure to write and tell me how it has changed your life and deepened your relationship with your child.
To return from Parenting Tip to Parenting Advice, click here.
Copyright © 2005 Laura Ramirez. All rights reserved. Parenting tip.