Five Key Skills
There are five key skills that parents need in order to create parenting tools for their toolbox. Once you have a handle on your strengths and weaknesses, and have taken a good look at your parenting style, you are ready to develop these skills. When you develop and use them in your parenting, you will be encouraging your child to develop and use them in her life.
You won't find the job of parenting listed in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It is not a job for which you are required to have a certain skill level to begin. It is, however, the hardest job you will ever have to do.
The need to make decisions multiplies exponentially when you have children because there are many more decisions to make. Although you make decisions daily, you may not be going through the process that it takes to make good decisions. When you become a parent, you agonize over the decisions you are making for your child. Will you make the “right” decisions about what you allow him to do or what school he will attend? You can get yourself all tied up in knots with worry.
There is a process to making decisions. When you learn it and use it often, it becomes a great parenting skill. It will give you confidence that you and your family are moving in the right direction toward success. This process is covered in more detail in Chapter 4.
Do you plan on having a job while you are raising your children? Does your spouse? How about a social life? Do you want your children to have a social life? What about school? Do you want to know what they are doing in school? And don't forget balanced meals. It would take the brain capacity of Albert Einstein to organize a family on the fly. Even then there would be too much stress to do it well. You need organizational skills when you are a parent. You need to develop them so that your stress levels can stay balanced and you can give your child what she needs—a calm you. Chapter 5 covers this in more detail.
There are several forms of intelligence that experts have only recently begun to study and understand how they work in everyday life. One of these, emotional intelligence, is being touted as the most important, even more important than intellect or IQ, which is what our school systems base their curricula on. Learning what your emotional intelligence is, and thereby being able to increase it, is a valuable parenting skill. Emotional intelligence is covered further in Chapter 7.
Self-Control and Self-Discipline
No one knows the limits of self-control until they are faced with a two-year-old for twenty-four hours a day, 365 days. For a parent, this skill cannot be more important. Not only do you have to deal with your two-year-old (three-year-old, four-year-old, etc.) and keep your sanity, you also have to do so in a way that sustains their self-esteem. This skill takes practice, and you will need to tweak and practice it more as your child goes through different developmental stages. Chapter 8 covers these further.
Morals and Values
Many people see morals and values as attributes, and they are. But parents are able to take their morals and values and use them as parenting skills. For instance, simply being true to your morals and values is a skill. If you are a religious person, being true to that value would mean finding time to become part of your church community, sharing your beliefs with your child, and remaining true to your faith. Morals and values are covered in more detail in Chapter 9.