Becoming a parent is a very exciting time in a person's life. We all enter the world of parenting blissfully unaware, unrealistically optimistic, and wanting the best for our children. We believe we love them more than anyone has ever loved their children, and we truly want the world for our precious ones. We dream of raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted individuals that contribute positively to society, and we look forward to boasting about their accomplishments and basking in the glow of praise regarding how well we've done as parents.
We hate to burst your bubble, but you need to know that parenting is one of the toughest things you can go through in life; there are no guarantees of success, glory, and even stable relationships with your children unless you can put in place a solid example of what good character should be. Being a parent is about walking the walk, not adopting a "do as I say and not as I do" mentality and hoping for the best. If you are about to become a parent or are thinking about having children, you'd better get your stuff together so you can lead by example. Here are some bad habits you need to consider breaking before welcoming little ones into the world:
Habit #1: Break the habit of substance abuse
If you are using and abusing a substance that is detrimental to your relationships and to your health, stop right away. Consider getting help for addiction with professional treatment. According to windwardway.com, most major insurers cover this kind of care, meaning those with health insurance are able to opt for the best treatment options available without worrying so much about price. You want to be fully present as a parent, and falling victim to substance abuse and addiction is something that will never serve you, before or after becoming a parent. Children emulate the behavior of their parents, so it’s essential that you set them up for success by exhibiting good habits that they can develop as well. If this means getting outside help, then go for it.
Habit #2: Break the habit of overreacting
Perhaps the best thing that you can do as a parent is to model calm centeredness in the face of adversity. If you freak out over every little thing---your husband forgetting to pick up eggs on the way home from work, the extra call you have to make to the doctor, or the unexpected soccer practice scheduled at the last minute, your kids will also emulate this type of belief that everything is a crisis. They will believe and act as if life is to be fought against, not celebrated and cherished, and they will fail to learn important lessons that come their way because they become too emotionally involved in situations. Your best line of defense against raising anxious and overly emotional children is to emulate calm in the face of challenges and to embrace all potential crises as opportunities to learn and grow. Be the example that they are looking for, and they will soon follow in your footsteps.
Habit #3: Break the habit of not showing your true emotions
Emotional response to life's ups and downs is expected behavior, and having the courage to share these emotions with honesty in front of your children is the best way to teach them to be true to their own feelings. In a week where you've had a $500 fender bender, you learned that your best friend is moving to another country, and you had to put your dog down, it's okay to sit down and have a good cry. Kids are smart; they see right through the unicorn and rainbow scenario that you attempt to paint for them, and they will struggle to come to terms with their own emotional responses to things unless you model what it is like to express emotions in an honest and healthy manner. Be the example, and your kids will learn what emotional honesty is like as they navigate through life.
Habit #4: Break the habit of eating poorly
Your child is, for the most part, a blank slate when they arrive on this earth. You will influence every single one of their tastes, preferences, and choices as you expose them to things that will ultimately build them up or tear them down. If you want your children to lead healthy lives, you must emulate what it looks like to take care of your earthly temple yourself. Eating properly, exercising, and practicing the art of loving self-care will teach your children that it is important to prioritize their own health and wellness. Put down those chips, and opt for some carrot sticks instead! You don't have to change everything overnight, but making small changes in the way of progress toward a healthier lifestyle will allow those habits to stick as you become proficient at this parenting thing. While you're at it, get off that couch and get moving! The family that does physical activities together is healthier and happier than the family who parks on the couch night after night in front of the TV. Start creating a healthier lifestyle and healthier habits today!
Habit #5: Break the habit of thinking and speaking negatively
Words are powerful influencers; they can make or break people, and your children are highly suggestible to your suggestions, actions, and words. Thinking, acting, and speaking in negative and derogatory ways will teach them that this is how we must interact with the world around us. Thoughts create emotions, and emotions create actions; the thoughts that we choose to think will literally create the reality that we experience. If we choose to break the cycle of negativity and hold more positive, constructive thoughts in our minds, we will soon see a shift in our reality that positively impacts not only us but our children and everyone else around us. Raising children that build themselves and others up is the most powerful thing we can do to create a future society that is more constructive.
Don't worry, future parent....you don't have to do everything right. Acting in integrity and making an honest effort to improve yourself is the best thing that you can do for you, your family, and your future children. Embrace these changes, and be excited about the opportunities that await you to influence your children---and the world---in more positive ways!
Disclosure: **This is a collaborative post.**