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Hey there, I’m Joy. I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor at Thriveworks in Chesterfield, Virginia. I absolutely love working with families. Families have drama and excitement. Highs and lows in the context of family is where we really live, where our true self emerges.

Family context also provide this incredible opportunity for us to grow as individuals to recognize how we can work together and collaborate with each other. Families allow us to learn, to communicate and interact in healthy ways about consequences for behaviors in relationships and about how to love and receive love unconditionally and working with families.

I often am questioned by parents. They’re saying, “Am I doing this right? What is the right way to parent? How can I be the most effective parent? How can I communicate this with my child?” And today I want to try to address some of those, some of those questions in kind of broad strokes.

But parenting is complex and we know that. We know that it’s going to be a challenge when you’re trying to juggle multiple ages in the home. You’re trying to juggle work stress or you’re trying to juggle financial stress or stress between the parents, but maintaining a healthy parenting style is very important. And doing your best, forgiving yourself, showing yourself grace, showing your kids grace is going to be paramount as far as the effective parenting style.

When I was in school, they taught us that was being an authoritative parent, not, not a parent who is one who is bossy and controlling and demanding and setting unrealistic expectations or the parent that’s just like, “Oh I’m going to go along with my kids because this makes them happy.” But that balance in between where you set boundaries but you also are flexible where you recognize, “Hey, I’m going to have to work with each child differently. I’m going to have to address their needs and kind of roll with it.”

Recognize emotionally your children might have different needs. And so being able to set those boundaries but, but then also play with them a little and adjust them as necessary. But when we’re talking about being an effective parent, it all starts with the structure of the family. We want to start with the parents on top. And those parents should be communicating with each other effectively and setting boundaries for the children that are appropriate and setting goals for the children that are appropriate, but doing that together and to the greatest degree possible, not being able to be used against each other.

And so creating a consistent front. Now, different personalities again and how you do that can come across, can be done differently and right. But as a parent, trying to parent effectively, it’s important to be first of all, present with your children, know your children, spend time with them, have quality time as a family where you get to know like, “Hey, that’s what this child is really gonna do well, having some time to calm themselves down by themselves” or, “This child is going to do better if they sit and talk with me for five minutes and we’re going to work through and they’re going to learn, learn better this way.”

The more time you spend and the more you’re present and attentive to your children, the more you’re able to make those decisions that are unique and specifically address the needs of your specific child. Be aware and flexible to the situations around you as well. We’re going to have different contexts. We’re going to have different crises come up. We’re going to have different, different situations that are that you go, “Oh hey I had two kids and I thought I had this figured out.” Number three comes along, it spins you on your head. Be flexible, recognize you don’t know at all and that you’ve got some opportunities to figure things out in a different way with each child and, and in each way recognize, “Hey, I tried that,” and at times are going to fall flat on your face and that’s okay.

And that’s the last thing I’d like to address is communication. When you fall flat on your face, when you succeed, talk to your children about it. Communicate. Let them know, “Hey, this is the standard, this is what I’ve got for you. This is the boundary, but we’re gonna work to reach it together. We are going to collaborate together. I know as a child you’re going to mess up sometimes. You are also going to surprise me with your successes because that’s who you are. As a parent, I’m going to mess up and when I do, I’m going to take responsibility. I’m going to say I’m sorry. I’m going to model taking appropriate responsibility for situations and for my actions, and we’re going to communicate those together.”

“I’m going to show you, you can come to me and you can say, ‘Mom, I don’t know why you did that.’ Or, ‘Dad, what were you thinking?’ And that we can talk it through. I’m not going to be defensive or angry with you. I’m going to listen to you. I’m going to hear you.”

So in all things, I encourage balance, flexibility, and please a lot of humor. Spend time together, laugh, cry, and work this out. Because as, as a parent, you are doing the most difficult job ever. And to sum it up in five minutes is kind of impossible, but I would say give it, give parenting your best shot and you will succeed.