Three Ways to Assess Your Parenting SkillsMar 09, 2011
It's been said that there are three versions of a person: who they see themselves as, how others see them and who they really are. It can be hard to see ourselves sometimes. Today, I was talking shop with a fellow personal trainer at Heritage College where I teach and he asked me if I was hyper-mobile, a term you might understand better as double jointed. I said no and he quickly asked, "How do you know? Have you ever been tested?"
Seemed to me it was the kind of thing I would have noticed so I was pretty surprised when he ran the tests and I scored an eight out of ten for hypermobility. Two of those points came because I can bend over and put my hands flat on the floor. Although I knew others couldn't do that, I'd never given it much thought. To me, it was normal because it was me.
As a personal trainer and triathlon coach, I assess other people for a variety of fitness parameters all the time including strength, endurance, postural deviations, mobility, and body composition and I think that this information has helped the people I've worked with. But I had not assessed this important area in myself and had assumed that my range of motion was normal. It got me to wondering what else I'd never noticed.
It's easy to use ourselves as the standard and measure others by that standard and in areas much broader than fitness. Our ideas of what is normal parenting is heavily influenced by the parenting we received. Often times people from dysfunctional families don't realize that there was anything amiss in their upbringing until they have children of their own. Others from dysfunctional families tragically repeat the dysfunction in their own families. It can take professional intervention to break that pattern. Similarly, poor eating and exercise habits are often passed on from generation to generation until someone breaks the pattern.
Given how hard it can be to see those things closest to us, how can parents be sure that they are doing a good job at this important task. I offer these three suggestions:
1. Give some thought to your picture of an effective parent. Unconditional love, the ability to set limits, the ability to inspire good character, provision of material needs, spending time, listening,etc. You don't have to watch reruns of Ward Cleaver to know what attributes are worth striving for. Just taking a few minutes to think about parenting will help us assess what areas we want to improve.
2. Take a look at your children and notice their strengths and weaknesses because although you are not wholely responsible for either one, chances are you contributed to both. You had a role in who they are today. It's one of life's greatest joys to be proud of your children. Indulge yourself and feel good about bringing these wonderful people into the world. Catching them demonstrating one of your own weaknesses is humbling but insightful. It's hard to change what we are unaware of. It can be easier to see our own shortcomings when they reappear in the lives we have helped mold.
3. Grandchildren. What's the point of grandchildren if you don't see them as basically perfect, your chance to exit this world knowing it's in good hands. Enjoy or look forward to your grandchildren. They are the best, a reward for maybe not being the best parent but being good enough to leave behind a heritage and a legacy that you contributed to in a significant way. No body is perfect and nobody is perfect; so assess to improve not to fret or let yourself get discouraged. The fact that you are asking the question says that you care and that's a great place to start.
Okay, I know you want to try it... see if you can put those hands flat on the floor. Funny thing, I've known for a while that some of my children are hypermobile. I'd even wondered where that came from. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
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