When I think about the kind of parent I want to be, there are several folks that come to mind as parenting role models. Besides my own parents and my wife’s parents, I have several parent-friends that I try to emulate as well. They probably don’t know that I look up to them (I figure they are busy being role models for their own children), but I take notice of what they’re doing because it seems to be working.
No family is perfect and children aren’t entirely the product of their parents, but there are many parents out there who seem to be getting things right. These people love their children dearly, of course, but what sets my role models apart from the rest of the parental pack is their commitment to caring for and actively nurturing their families – something I call “family-building.” Family life is a delicate thing; you have to nurture your family unit to really ensure its long-term viability, all the while balancing several other responsibilities as a contributing member of society. The parents I look up to always seem to find creative ways of weaving family-sustaining behaviors and activities into their daily lives. They do the “little things” thoughtfully, whether it’s connecting with their children while running errands or picnicking during a sibling’s Saturday soccer practice, these parents find ways to weave their family life into their daily lives.
This is harder than it looks because there’s more to it than taking your children along for the ride. You can’t tune out as you go about your errands if you really want to maintain a bond with your child. You can still go to work and send the kids to school, of course. But you have to be able to make something out of “throwaway time” – whether this is time spent driving to and fro, grocery shopping or sitting through one sibling’s scheduled activity that can’t be shared by the whole family.
In my opinion, the very best parents have the creativity and ingenuity to make the most of what’s around them in almost any situation. The more I observe these parents’ unique tactics, the more I grow as a parent, and I hope to be a role model for other parents as well.
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