It Isn't Easy Being a Parent...

Parenting can be wonderful and rewarding, but it can also be difficult and unpleasant. Most parents experience moments (or months or years) of feeling overwhelmed. There’s a lot of information out there about what we “should” do to raise “good” kids.

In reality, there are no guaranteed methods for ensuring we and our children will be happy, healthy, and successful in life. There is, however, plenty of research showing that parents can make a significant, positive difference through a number of simple approaches.

Since the 1950s, Search Institute researchers have studied the effects of various influences in young people’s lives. They’ve found that the 40 Developmental Assets clearly relate to good things — like doing well in school, serving others, engaging in the community, and forming healthy habits.

It’s important for grown-ups to help young people experience these things, but parents can’t do it alone. However, there are nine specific parenting strategies that help. Focusing on these nine research-based strategies provides guidance and direction in the uncertain world of parenting. And that’s something parents can feel good about.

Below are our 9 Parenting Strategies based on the Developmental Assets research. Download, print, and share the strategies, and refer to them often in your parenting journey.

Strategy #1 Take Action! No two parents show love in quite the same way. Some shower their kids with lots of hugs, high-fives, and kind notes; others are more stoic or reserved. Tap into your own way of showing your kids you care.
  • Spend time together in ways that fit your lifestyle.
  • Try to make time for regular meals together, go for walks, talk in the car, or meet somewhere for coffee.
  • Don’t strive to live up to a stereotype or an ideal of parenting; just do what works for you. Get more ideas here.
Strategy #2 Take Action! Communicate in ways that work well for you. Texting sometimes gets a bad rap, but so did the telephone years ago. Lots of kids today text—many of them, with their parents. If it works for your family, go for it. The medium you use matters less than how much you truly listen.
  • Do you understand what your kids are trying to tell you? Are you paying attention to body language or other cues that might indicate there’s more to a story?
  • When you share things, are you grounding yourself in love, respect, and clarity? Do you ever say one thing and mean another? Do you treat them the way you want to be treated?
  • Get more positive communication tips here.
Strategy #3 Take Action! Are you able to name at least three non-parent adults who are positive role models for your child? That strict but kind violin teacher who pushes 20 minutes of practice a day may be helping your daughter build confidence. Or maybe the neighbor who hires your son to walk her dogs helps him see himself as a responsible and reliable person. Adults outside our families can be hidden treasures when it comes to helping us parent. Research shows that all family members can benefit from kids having these kinds of supportive relationships. You can help nurture them by introducing your children to people you like and respect, and supporting positive relationships that develop naturally. Get more tips here.
Strategy #4 Take Action! Most schools and youth-serving programs go out of their way to reach parents through conferences, volunteer opportunities, and special events. If you’re too busy to attend, at the very least, connect with your children’s teachers via e-mail or phone. Then start taking advantage of opportunities to actually get into and spend time at the places your kids go.
  • If the idea of going to school makes you uncomfortable, chaperone a field trip out of the building.
  • If you aren’t finding good ways to get involved, start talking to or emailing your child’s teachers, principals, program leaders, other directors. Let them know what would work for you and why the current opportunities don’t work.
  • Get more tips for connecting to your child’s school here.
Strategy #5 Take Action! Kids may not realize it, but having responsibilities is good for them. All people need to know they are valued and valuable; it’s human nature. Parents can show kids that they are valued at home by giving them increasing levels of responsibility. We can then take it a step further by helping them get engaged in service in the community, whether this involvement is in the neighborhood, school, or somewhere else. Get more ideas here.
Strategy #6 Take Action! Kids need emotional and physical safety in equal measures. The challenges parents face in providing it vary as much as kids and their environments.
  • A secret to keeping kids safe is to do the other eight things on this list. If you’re communicating, you’ll know what’s going on in your child’s life, where they might need some help, or if they might need someone to look out for them. If they have contributing roles and positive influences, they’re more likely to make safe choices, and if lots of people care about them, they can get help and support when needed.
  • A second key is to take physical safety measures (such as baby proofing when they’re young, or setting rules about driving when they’re teens) out of love for them and a desire for them to have positive experiences, rather than out of fear.
  • Get more ideas here.
Strategy #7 Take Action! It’s no fun being the parent who says no when others are saying yes. But sometimes it’s in the best interest of your kids and your entire family. The key to reducing everyone’s stress and frustration about limits and expectations is to be clear, consistent, reasonable, and evolutionary. “Evolutionary” means being responsive to your child’s changing developmental needs and what they’ve demonstrated about their choices.
  • Reward the positive behavior and limit opportunities for negative behavior. For example, if you have a teenager who has a history of impulsive behavior, don’t let her go to an unsupervised party; have a gathering at your home instead. Or, if your son gets up five mornings a week in the summer to go to cross country practice, let him skip an evening lacrosse workout when he’s feeling ragged and worn out.
  • Get more ideas here.
Strategy #8 Take Action! Be the dad who talks to your passengers during the carpool. Be the mom who asks a lot of questions about school, interests, and activities. You don’t have to be nosy to get to know your children’s friends, but you do have to be the one to set the tone of kind, friendly interaction. Your kids might think it’s a little weird at first, but in the long run they’ll appreciate it. Get more ideas here.
Strategy #9 Take Action! This one is simple, but definitely not easy: Be the kind of person you want your child to be. Know your values and act on them, treat others the way you would like to be treated, follow your dreams, cut yourself some slack when appropriate, and feel good knowing you’re building the assets your kids need to succeed. Get more ideas here.

Download and print the 9 Parenting Strategies >>




This is wonderful. Some great strategies that I’ll be sharing with other parents. Thank you.

Thank you for posting these very clear, insightful guidelines for what us parents need to strive for daily.

Seeing your words, “ it isn’t easy being a parent” prompts me to post this statement! It is so easy being a parent! Here are 3 points for parents! They clarify and simplify.
1. Realize the importance
2. Set a goal
3. Reach the goal

Easy! Fun! Clear! It makes me sad when people talk about the problems in parenting. There do not need to be problems!!!! If you want to enjoy your child and help the child be the best he can be, easily, please read my new book, PARENTING WITHOUT PUNISHMENT. It is available from Amazon In hard cover, soft cover, and kindle. I like the hard cover. It is inexpensive and very short. It is being praised by a great pediatrician and by every single person that I have heard who has read it. I’d say it is maybe the new mainstream parenting. I so hope it helps those who do not realize that parenting is so much fun and so easy, too.

So if you think it is not easy being a parent, please read it. I think you will be glad you did! My first book, which first came out in 1988 and has been rereleased, also on Amazon, is A PRESENT TO THE NEWBORN. It came out also As A PRIMER FOR POSITIVE PARENTING and has been used in schools.

Too many books, blogs, and other have led parents to think they must have difficult times with their little baby and toddler and teenager. It is not so! If the parent realizes what she wants to achieve ( one goal for the child when the child is one day old, one year old, ten years old, fifteen years old and fifty years old) and how to achieve that goal easily, then the parent can smile all the time and so easily help the child without being mean to the child, ever! Love, Emily Hunter Slingluff

My son gives n me a hard time because he changes his mind about stuff at the last minute, and it’s hard.

My fiancé needs some advice on how to break a 10 year old from thinking every time is play time even when it’s time to be disciplined she plays and never takes her serious. Her mom us guilty if playing with her too much and now it’s getting real bad.

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Proceeds from shirt sales will be reinvested to purchase bumper stickers that will be available locally and online. Bumper stickers will spread the message to a greater audience and remind the ignorant that we are paying attention – even if they are not!

It is our moral obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

There comes a time when we are called to act. The time to act is now before another victim headlines the news. Will you choose to be part of the answer? I did. I ordered my shirt last night. Join this worthwhile cause TODAY!

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I love that you recognize that each parent has a unique style. This way we can make positive changes without feeling like we are not good enough. This is a great way to improve parenting skills! – Darleen Claire