1. Be aware that how you were parented is a major factor in your choice of parenting style, one way or another. Whatever advice new parents may get from family, friends and parenting experts, we all refer back to our own childhood for our fundamental parenting ideas, whether consciously or not, either to recreate all the things we liked about it or to put right all the things that we disliked about it.
2. Think in terms of successful parenting rather than ‘good’ parenting. The concept of the ‘good’ parent was invented by the advertising industry to sell product by making parents feel guilty. Think in terms of success and you attach yourself firmly to your own objectives not somebody else’s.
3. Strive for excellence rather than perfection. Perfect parenting is a myth. Why go on a crusade to find the Holy Grail when the opportunity to be the best you can be is right there in front of you?
4. Know yourself and be yourself. You’re a role model. Make sure it’s the real you your child looks up to not somebody you’re pretending to be.
5. Have a clear idea of the kind of person you want your child to be. Always imagine the best for your child. Imagine your child as the happy and successful human being you would like them to be.
6. Stay constantly in touch with your child and the world they live in. This is a shared journey, whatever form it takes, so it’ll help you to know a lot more about your child than their name and shoe size.
7. Always look for a balance between guiding your child and allowing them to discover their own path. If you overbalance, overbalance on the side of discovery – sometimes, doing nothing except just watching your child grow is the best parenting there is.
8. Learn something from every successful parent you can find. In fact, you can learn something from every parent. Even those who struggle generally may do some specific things better than you do.
9. Adapt everything you learn to suit your personality, values, relationships and circumstances. This is you and your child. Your lives. Your world. Make your own decisions about what comes into it and how you use it.
10. Take nothing as gospel. If it works for you, use it; if it doesn’t, don’t. Test every bit of advice in the laboratory of your daily life and base your decisions on direct observational experience. If what the book tells you makes things worse, the book is wrong!
11. Be well informed and trust your intuition. Use your head to get the knowledge that will most efficiently guide your heart to where it wants to go.
12. Always remember that the right attitude is more valuable than the ‘right’ technique. Techniques are tools and like all tools they’re dangerous in the wrong hands. An attitude of love will make the best use of whatever technique you use.
13. Be creative and willing to experiment. Every day you will find yourself somewhere you’ve never been before. You’ll be alone in uncharted territory. A well developed ability to improvise is the key to success.
14. Be decisive. Making mistakes and correcting them is ultimately more efficient than agonising over getting it right first time – or, worse, being paralysed by a fear of getting it wrong.
15. Always remember that, generally speaking, a ‘slow fix’ will last a lot longer than a ‘quick fix’. Sweeping a problem under the carpet in exchange for some peace and quiet will take the pressure off you and it’s not a crime, but sooner or later you’ll have to solve that problem. Unsolved problems grow into monsters that come back to haunt you.
16. Be relentlessly optimistic. Parenting can be tough at times, but the sun is always shining even when you don’t see it. Really, it is.
17. Develop a great sense of humour. You’ll be doing a lot of ridiculous things. Taking them seriously won’t help you one little bit, but sharing the joke might!
18. Thrive on chaos! There will be plenty of it so you’ll have lots of opportunity to practice. Learn to go with the flow. Some adults around you may not like it, but your child will love it and life will be on your side if you trust it enough.
19. Accept that, no matter how successful you feel you are in your parenting, somebody somewhere will still think you’re a ‘bad’ parent. Who cares? Please yourself and your child.
20. Make working on your own personal development your number one priority! Parenting may appear a somewhat shapeless occupation to the undiscerning eye and easily lost amongst other considerations and, unlike the professions of, say, doctor, lawyer, banker or accountant, it’s not governed by examinations and qualifications, rules and regulations, guilds and associations – but it truly is of vital importance, whatever else you’re doing with your life. A willingness to learn how to be equal to the task is the very least you can offer.