How to be a better parent (one way, at least)

“What do I do to be a better parent?”

When conversations swing around to either Trusting Education or bent spoon, the above question, in one form or another, inevitably comes around. On those most difficult of days, I feel I’m the one asking the question.

The hardest thing about parenting is that there is no single correct answer. There is no silver bullet. There is no perfect way of doing things to insure success.  And worse yet, once you think you’ve figured out how to best parent one child, that child goes and changes everything on you.

Think back to when your child was first born. Perhaps that was 16 years ago. Maybe it was only this year. This conundrum in parenting is most evident in infants. As soon as you’ve figured out what a certain cry means, or as soon as you’ve figured out your child’s pattern, your child goes and changes it all on you.

For example, you finally figure out that if you miss putting your child down for a nap at 2:30 in the afternoon, your child will never go down for a nap, and then you’re in for a world of hurt close to dinner time because your child is totally over-tired. Then three weeks later you get your child down for his or her nap at 2:30, but later that night your child won’t go to sleep at the usual time. This goes on for a few days until you realize your child doesn’t need that nap every day any longer: at least not at that time.

After the first year you think, “I’ve got this down. The changes come every three weeks.” And then all of that changes, and then, after seven years, you maybe start to realize it’s time to just roll with the punches.

So what’s the ONE thing any of us can do to become better parents? Relax, and adapt. OK. That’s two things. But you’ve already started adapting, so that shouldn’t bother you too much, right?