One scary thing about parenting is, it’s a temporary job. Our active parenting days are  numbered and we need to count them. How many parenting days do we still have?

If our youngest child is five years old, we can assume he will be leaving the nest at around age eighteen, so that gives us thirteen years or 156 months or 4,745 days! Since we all know how fast the days zip by, before we know it our job as a resident parent will be over. That knowledge should motivate us to take a parenting check-up.

So how are we doing as parents?

Often we concentrate on our children’s behavior and not on our own. Why not look at our behavior from our child’s perspective? In a survey of 100,000 children, children were asked what they wanted most in their parents. Let’s check out the top ten answers and evaluate how we are doing in each area:

  1. Children want parents who don’t argue in front of them. Children tend to do what parents do, not necessarily what they say. How do we handle differences? Can we disagree and share our negative feelings without attacking the other person or defending oneself? Then our children will also learn how to process anger and resolve conflict in positive ways.
  2. Children want parents who treat each family member the same. Treating our children the same does not mean treating them equal. Each child is unique and but each needs the same love and understanding. Let’s evaluate our relationship with each child.
  3. Parents who are honest. The parent who says, “Tell the tele-marketer (who is on the phone) I’m not here,” may not realize what she is modeling to her child. Do you say what you mean and mean what you say?
  4. Parents who are tolerant of others. When parents are tolerant of others, children learn to be patient with those who are different from them. In what ways have we modeled tolerance to our children?
  5. Parents who welcome kids friends to the home. If the gang is getting together at our house, then we will know where our own children are! Cultivate an open-home policy and get to know their friends.
  6. Parents who build a team spirit with their children. As children move into the adolescent years, parents who cultivate a team spirit will have a greater influence on their children. How can we foster team in our family?
  7. Parents who answer their questions. Have we been guilty of saying, “I’m busy right now. Let’s talk about this later.” Then later never happens. Let’s take time today to answer our children’s questions and when we don’t know the answer, let’s admit it and offer to help find the answer.
  8. Parents who discipline when needed, but not in front of others, especially their friends. Amazingly, children really do want limits, but don’t count on them volunteering that information!
  9. Parents who concentrate on good points instead of weak ones. Look at our child as an incomplete jigsaw puzzle and concentrate on the beautiful developing picture instead of the missing pieces. Let’s make a list of our child’s strengths and look for appropriate times to point them out.
  10. Parents who are consistent. We were not always consistent but we consistently strive to be. Be encouraged. The occasional inconsistency will not ruin our children. But our children need to know that our love and limits are consistent. With boundaries comes security. Is there an area in which we need to work on being more consistent?

How do we rate? We hope these tips are helpful, and will prevent behavior problems. And that from time to time we all will take a parenting check up and wisely number our days.

Read more related topics:

Balancing Work and Family

Ability and Disability: Loving my kids

Loud and Clear: Without Words

Written by Claudia and David Arp, MSW

David and Claudia Arp, MSW, founders of Marriage Alive Seminars, are marriage educators, columnists and authors of numerous books and small group video curriculum including “The Second Half of Marriage and 10 Great Dates” (Zondervan). You can visit their website: www.marriagealive.com