Are you tired of hearing about tons of theories of parenting from all those expensive books and experts? I’m going to tell you right now, how to write a book that will make you a better parent, possibly, the best parent you can be. For this activity, you will need three pieces of paper, more for if you get on a roll.
Now, take a piece of paper and write at the top a number 1, then leave some space, we will add a title later. Next, think about all the moments from your childhood when you felt unwanted, unloved, hurt, or neglected. Make a list of those times on your paper. You may want to focus mostly on your parents, but you can add things that aunts, uncles, grandparents, or others did. You don’t have to qualify if the adults had reasons for what they did, focus only on how you felt. Were you hurt when they missed something important to you? Were you criticized so you felt incompetent? Were you pushed to your breaking point to be perfect? Just write down that list of times your parents messed up and did not give you what you needed from them.
Take your time. If you were abused, feel free to not hurt yourself writing every detail. It is okay to protect your inner child.
If you had a great childhood and don’t have a lot to say, that’s okay too.
When you are done with that step, set that paper aside.
Now, take out a second piece of paper and write a 2 at the top. On this piece of paper, write all the best things from your childhood. Write about what made you feel loved, appreciated, and good. Write about what your parents and other adults did that, even as a child, made you think that they were “good parents.” If you include a vacation, be sure to focus on your relationships and what was good there, not just the trip. What made it great? Did you get to spend time with your parents in a low-stress way? Did you play games together or watch movies together? What did they do that was good?
If your parents didn’t do a lot of good stuff, think of other adults and how they made you feel good about yourself. This list might also include how your grandmother taught you to bake or your uncle taught you to chop firewood. It might include how they showed up for your school play, band performance, or dance recital.
Write for as long as you need to.
Now take out paper number three, and write a 3 at the top. On this sheet of paper, write about how you want to be treated as a person. You can think of how you would like to be treated by a life partner if that helps you focus. Write about how you want to be treated when you are mad, sad, hurt, excited, and worried. Also, note how you want to be treated when you are sick and when you have lost a job or something important. Do you want to be hugged? Do you prefer space to deal with your emotions? Do you want to be heard or told jokes? What makes you feel best in each situation?
Once that list is written, take a moment to look at it. Is there anything else you really need from a life partner? Do you need to add words like “respect for my feelings” or “generous with their time” ? Add any further thoughts.
Putting Your Book Together
Okay, now go back to page 1. Write at the top “Bad Parenting, What not to do.” This is chapter one of your new book. Now, turn to page 2 and write at the top: “Good parenting, Do these things.” Then on page 3, at the top of that page, write out “Children are people. They need all the same things I need.”
This last list is a guide for how to deal with your child when they are struggling. Toddlers and teenagers both have tantrums. Those tantrums are usually because they are sad, mad, tired, or sick. They need to same understanding you want someone to show you when they feel that way. When they are sick or sad, they want to be cared for, the same as you. It is true, some of us have more desire for hugs than others. I know I don’t want to be hugged when I’m angry, but I do want a hug when I feel sad. It is good to acknowledge that not everyone wants exactly the same things in these ways, but if you can stop and think about what you would want to help you deal with those feelings, you can stop and think about what your child needs.
Okay, you just wrote your first parenting book. Read it over. This book is written just for you. No, your child is not you, but if you can give your child the best parts of your childhood and leave out the worst, you will be a better parent than you had, and really, that’s all most of us can hope to do.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.