I recently did an interview for a radio station about parenting. They wanted to know what were the top things parents struggle with. I have seen hundreds of parents over the last 28 years. If I had to list every struggle, the list would never end – parenting is hard! So, I figured the best thing to do would be to group challenges by category.
Today’s parents struggle with 7 main things. Not surprisingly, modern parents struggle with roughly the same things their parents struggled with in the past. Today, they just give it a different name, maybe to feel a bit more modern or advanced. Same struggle, different shape.
Parents need to take on a management role as soon as they have kids. Unfortunately, not everyone is a good manager and parents struggle with it often. If they were lucky enough to learn if from their own parents, cool! If not, they may struggle with it as a parent. Unfortunately, people spend more than 16 years of their lives in educational institutions that are obsessed about teaching them to manage their homework but not any other part of their lives.
School does not teach us to manage our time, our emotions, our friends or relationships, our physical body, our money or a budget. So it is no surprise that people struggle with it in their teens and then they struggle with it as adults raising kids. They then can’t teach their children how to manage any off these things either, because no one can teach what they don’t know.
Here are the 7 main challenges parents experience:
- Parents struggle with managing themselves emotionally. They can get overwhelmed, anxious, and scared and they don’t know how to manage their feelings. They get stressed to the max and this stress projects onto their kids, leaving not much space for enjoyment in life. They are role models even of the things they wish they weren’t.
- Parents can struggle with social pressure. We live in a society that constantly portrays the message that fitting in is more important than being yourself. Parents often experience doubt about what is right and wrong and can be very influenced by media. Those who have good social skills and strong emotional stability can develop their own opinion about the newest gadgets (for example, the functionality of the mobile phone rather than the need to be trendy, or buying the next new gadget, house or car). Being preoccupied with status is a sign of giving in to social pressure. Parents who are not preoccupied with status are better able to raise kids that are leaders, rather than followers. These kids learn to use critical thinking and have their own opinions (which they will not compromise just to fit in).
- Parents struggle with an overload of information. They reach a paradox of choice – too many choices. This overload quickly makes them feel inadequate and makes them doubt their parenting style. They do not know how to sift through the loud noise of information to reach the essence. They end up feeling more confused and in doubt, which they then model to their confused kids. Without learning to manage emotions, the modeling will continue in a never ending cycle.
- Parents struggle with money management. They have a core belief that they need money in order to be good parents. Their focus on earning money diverts them from realizing that love, caring, joy, shared experiences and even learning requires very little or just basic funds. Most parents do not know how to manage themselves financially. They don’t understand basic rules regarding earning, saving and investing money, not to mention that money (if used wisely), can work for them. In their minds, earning more is the only way to be a good parents (so that they can provide for their families). What they forget is that ‘providing’ means a lot more than providing things that needs to be purchased.
- Parents struggle with ineffective time management skills. They often do not value their time and can be inefficient. That is why they can get easily stressed by having too many things to do and not enough hours in the day to do them in. Successful time-managers can do amazing things with the same 24 hours days. Good time management is essential to a successful and happy household. Unfortunately, we are not born good time managers. It is a learned skill that requires a teacher. If kids do not learn it from home, they are at the mercy of what life throws at them.
- Another struggle parents have is managing their relationships. Kids and their parents are in relationships their entire lives. They are in relationships with their teachers, friends, family members, colleagues, bosses, neighbors and even people they meet for a short time. What they do is relate to others in the only way they know how. Being in a relationship is an art form. It is a learned skill that will determine many aspects of our lives. Relationships challenges are some of the reasons why we have so many divorced parents, single parents or mixed families. This puts even more pressure on every family’s emotional stability.
- Many parents struggle with managing their physical body. They lack sleep; they lack nutrients and clarity of mind. Many parents eat unhealthy food, drink too much alcohol, smoke, and some even use other substances to manage day to day life. Parents neglect their body – the vehicle in which they travel through life. If the vehicle is run down, it is hard for them to help their kids take care of their own bodies. The way parents manage their bodies is the way their kids will manage their bodies as well.
In order to manage themselves better and make their parenting more successful, happy and enjoyable parents need to learn management skills. Every small thing they master will improve their parenting. In fact, there is no end to how parents can improve their own time, relationships, money management, emotional and social skills. You know how they told you in school that learning is a lifelong endeavour? Well, it’s true! Life is a quest that continues long after the kids leave the nest and start their new lives away from home.
Parenting can be the most wonderful experience if parents develop the right management skills. Maybe you did not learn them from your parents, but it is never too late to learn something new!
Join me next week for tips on managing the 7 challenges of parenting.