If you’ve always been a Type-A neurotic worrier, can you become a different kind of parent? Perhaps the more important question isn’t “Can you?” but “Should you?”
You want to adopt a parenting style that allows you to be more laid-back and easygoing and puts to rest all that worrying, fretting and hovering. Is it possible — or advisable — to try to become a type of parent other than the one you already are?
Hogan Hilling, author of 30 Things Future Dads Should Know About Pregnancy and 30 Things Future Moms Should Know About How New Dads Feel, says, “Yes, it’s possible, but there is no guarantee change will occur.” The best way to make the shift, he explains, is not by trying to change who you are, but by altering your behavior. “Briefly behave in a way that is unlike your personality and out of your comfort zone.”
Sound scary? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to make some alterations without negatively impacting your child or yourself in the process.
Take baby steps
“Change in behavior cannot occur over night,” says Hilling. To wean off of your Type-A personality and learn how to chill out — and actually enjoy it — start small. “Go with the flow for brief periods of five to 10 minutes, then build up to 20 to 30 minutes,” Hilling suggests.
Give yourself a time out
Multi-tasking is often something Type-A parents engage in — they carefully keep one eye on the kids while trying to accomplish numerous other chores or work responsibilities. Hilling suggests simply sitting and allowing yourself to take a break for a few minutes. Watch one of your favorite TV programs, participate in a playful activity with your kids or take them for a quick walk through the neighborhood.
Let things get messy
For the neat-freaks who can’t relax if one thing is out of order, it’s time to try allowing life to occasionally get a little messy. Schedule a weekend morning activity and “leave the house without making the beds or cleaning. Tell your partner you’ll finish the chores when you return,” Hilling says. Bonus: Maybe a magical little elf will do the chores while you’re out!
“If the Type-A parent is more concerned about perfection and order, more time will be spent on correcting than enjoying time with the child,” says Hilling. Bottom line: It’s perfectly acceptable if there’s some clutter, unwashed dishes or toys strewn about the house. You’ll survive — and so will your kids.
Don’t beat yourself up
Though you may feel like being a Type-A parent is a negative thing, there are actually a lot of pros to this parenting style that can positively impact a child’s growth and development. “A Type-A parent provides organization, structure, goals, discipline and a sense of order in a child’s life,” says Hilling. But you’ll want to avoid passing your neuroses on to your kids. “It may deprive a child the opportunity to explore and learn from his or her mistakes or create unrealistic expectations and increased and unnecessary anxiety for a child.”
No matter what your personality type or parenting style is, the main goal should be to find the right balance for each particular child, advises Hilling, because each of them also has different personalities.
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