When Jessica discovered she was pregnant, one of the first thoughts to flash across her mind was, “How can I ever be a good parent?” After all, she’d had some pretty disappointing role models. Her father paid her little attention, except belittle her when she made a mistake. And her mother ricocheted between yelling at her one minute and appeasing her with stuff the next. What if Jessica turned out just like them? How can Jessica parent without good role models?
Perhaps you feel like Jessica. Maybe an unexpected pregnancy is raising lots of questions—including the one she asked. If the role models in your life didn’t parent well, it can be tough to believe you can do any better. But the fact is: you can.
Like most skills, good parenting can be learned. And mistakes you’ve seen made can be unlearned. Let’s look at how others in your situation have become better parents than their mom and dad.
Identify Your Parenting Vision
Becoming a good parent starts with a vision. This is a picture of what successful parenting would look like. A target to aim for. Now’s the time to think about what your parenting style will include, as well as what you want to avoid. So take a moment to dream…
How might you complete these thoughts? (We’ve made a few suggestions to get you started.)
- I would definitely: Pay attention to my child. Speak kindly to my child. Be patient with my child. Play with my child. Love my child. Provide for my child. Discipline my child with love.
- I would avoid: Belittling my child. Yelling at my child. Hitting my child. Putting my own desires ahead of my child’s needs. Taking out my anger on my child.
- I would get rid of: Old habits that are harmful. Toxic friends I don’t want around my child. Anything that keeps me from being a good role model myself.
- I would gather: Friends who would be good for me and my child. Knowledge about how children grow up. Tips from other good parents.
- I would want my child to: Feel loved. Learn right and wrong. Live in safety. Feel valued.
See how your parenting dreams can blossom, given a chance? It is possible to be a successful parent even without good role models.
Now, the next step is to find the people and other resources that can help make your vision of parenting a reality.
Find Ways to Make it Happen
If you’re starting to feel like you’re going to need a lot of help, congratulations! You’re just like all the parents in the world. You’re looking at a big job, and you don’t want to mess it up. That’s a good place to start.
What if you could find a mentor? Someone who cared about how you are doing as a parent. Someone wise to walk beside you on your journey.
Well, there’s good news. Mentoring parents is part of what pregnancy care centers do. And there’s probably one near you. You can find ones close to you. Pregnancy care centers are staffed with people who are ready to get you the resources you need to be a good parent. You can find services like—
- Parenting lessons (a safe place to ask all your questions)
- Material support (the “stuff” you need to raise a baby)
- Emotional support and mentoring (people who’ll listen to your dreams and help you make a way to achieve them)
- Networking with other parents (a parents’ group for sharing ideas and stories)
Online or Print Resources
Another great source of helpful information is, of course, the Internet. For instance, let’s say you want tips for handling a child’s tantrums. You might watch this five-minute video.
Or maybe you’re hoping for a short list of parenting tips you can put into practice right away. You could read this article.
However, not all parenting advice is created equal. You may want to get together with another wise parent to discuss what you are learning and make sure it’s truly valuable.
Which leads to our next suggestion.
Most communities have a variety of support groups for parents. Sometimes just talking with other parents who face the same challenges can help you know you’re not alone on this journey. You may also learn something you didn’t know before.
Churches are another place to meet parents who are trying hard to do their job right. A congregation that includes other young families can be a great group to connect with.
Build Your Confidence
As you find the support you need to learn good parenting skills, you’ll begin to grow in confidence. You’ll see that others like you have learned how to parent without good role models. They’ve turned their vision into reality. So there’s hope that you can, too.
It may help to remember that all parents—including the best ones—are imperfect. But you don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. Especially to your own child.
You can join the ranks of imperfect parents who are creating healthy, loving families in which their children thrive.
Choosing to Parent
Considerations for parenting after an unexpected pregnancyRead More