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What is Effective Parenting and Why am I writing about it?

I began this journey of parent education and coaching in….well, technically, in childhood. It has been a part of my life since my youth because my father was a certified P.E.T. (Parent Effectiveness Training) Instructor, and my parents raised my 3 siblings and I using the P.E.T. philosophy and techniques. I am incredibly grateful for how I was raised, and I knew that I wanted to do the same with my own two children. I also recognized from a very young age that I was raised differently than many of my peers and friends, and that it was special. Because of that, I wanted to share these parenting techniques with other parents and caretakers (just as my father did) so that they can benefit from these skills and strategies. In this blog, I will define effective parenting and provide examples of the techniques that have shaped the person (daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend) that I am today.

Effective parenting is defined as “the ability to interact and engage with children in such a way that they learn and grow into responsible adults.” (Barbara Harvey, Belief in Parenting, The Center for Parenting, 2023). It is the type of parenting that requires time, patience, and practice. It requires “letting go”, allowing our children to problem solve independently with us guiding and listening to their needs. Effective parenting most definitely requires us to be imperfect, and to be transparent about our mistakes and feelings with our children.

What do I mean by “imperfect”? I am suggesting that we openly demonstrate our human flaws and raw emotions to our children as we navigate this crazy world alongside them. When we display the ability to learn and grow from our mistakes in the parenting process, our children will then learn how to do the same in their lives. They will become independent, strong, and capable adults because they will have learned the skills necessary to solve their OWN problems and successfully overcome adversity. They will have observed and, in turn, emulated how YOU handled problems and challenges with them and others. THIS is how your children will become great and successful adults who are able to contribute kindness, compassion and empathy to a world ridden with the opposite.

What does an imperfect parent look like? It’s the parent who maintains their role as a guide, a source of compassion and empathy, a “cheerleader” and a supporter, while at the same time letting their child know they are someone who does not have all the answers. This is so incredibly important in effective parenting because, by allowing our children to see our humanness, they are more likely to communicate with us, to follow our example, and listen to what we have to say. It means being able to tell our children: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you.” Or “I don’t like the way that I handled what happened yesterday. Can we try that again now that I am calmer and better able to listen to you?”.

When my own kids face problems or are struggling, it takes every fiber of my being not to jump in and fix their issue, offer solutions to their problem, or tell them what to do. Yet, time after time, when I choose to use active listening skills and the strategies used in the P.E.T. philosophy, I am amazed at how much more effective I am as a parent. My kids learn to solve their problems independently, feel heard and understood by their parents, grow from the experiences and, in turn, develop a closer relationship with my husband and me. Is it perfect? Absolutely NOT. Do we make mistakes and resort to “authoritarian” or “permissive” parenting? You bet! However, the difference is that, when this happens (and believe me, it happens!), we are open and honest in communicating how our ineffective response likely negatively impacted them. We remind them that we are forever growing and learning from these experiences and are constantly striving to improve our parenting skills. What better way to interact with our child(ren) than with genuine congruency between our actions and our words?

So why am I here on this platform? Why am I writing these words? Why did I take the time and effort to become a Certified P.E.T. Instructor? Why do I have an incredible passion for coaching and educating parents and caretakers? I am here because I want to share these same skills and techniques with other parents so that they, too, can experience the benefits of effective parenting and create a more peaceful home environment. I want to help parents access their BEST PARENTING TODAY.

To learn more about my P.E.T. classes and other parent coaching and education services I provide, visit the “services” menu on my website. You can also follow me on Instagram at @bestparentingtoday for more parenting tips and guidance.

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