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Ten Traits of a Good Parent

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Though good parents are like fingerprints-no two are just alike. Consider these tips as helpful to child rearing!

  1. The ability to say No. "Parents need to be able to turn down a request, then tolerate the resulting sadness or frustration," says Dr. Koplewicz. "It's not just safety issues; it's also, 'No, you shouldn't get a tattoo."'
  2. Knowing how to listen to your children. "More than simply listening, encourage them to talk to us. Let them present their arguments, even when they say something stupid or provocative."
  3. Being able to admit you've made a mistake. "It's vital to say, 'I've changed my mind. You were right; I was wrong.' Taking ownership of mistakes is good modeling, and it doesn't sap your authority."
  4. The ability to let your children make mistakes. "This means saying, This is not the right thing to do, but I'll let her do it because the downside is not so bad, and she'll learn something.'"
  5. The ability to share your own belief system. "Say what you honestly think: "I don't believe in premarital sex; I don't think you should do drugs."'
  6. The ability to share your struggles as well as your victories. "Teens think, 'Dad and Mom are so successful; how can they under-stand what I go through?' Share your difficulties: 'I have to go to Dallas for work this weekend even though I don't want to; or 'My friends disappointed me. It was very hurtful, but I've discussed it with them, and we're still good friends."'
  7. Recognizing you can't control everything. "A wonderful trait. As children become teens, they gain independence. You can say, 'I'd like to know who else will be at the house you're going to' or 'I believe a curfew is a good idea,' but you also need to be willing to negotiate."
  8. The ability to shield your children from private or marital stresses. "Occasionally every adult has personal issues-things like sexual dysfunction or financial stress. These can be overwhelming, and they certainly strain marriages. But there's no reason to share them with your kids."
  9. The willingness to spend time with your child. "This can be done in any creative way you want." (See "Teach Your Teenager Well.")
  10. The ability to keep a parental perspective. "We can be fooled by adolescents' increasing maturity~ sexuality and articulateness. Remember that this is not a friendship. It's still your responsibility to provide them with money, security and advice; though there's more give-and-take, it's not an equal relationship."
Ask Dr. Susan