I was once told that our parents are only as old as we are, and it made so much sense to me! Their age may seem to be an indicator of their wisdom but is unfortunately not an indicator of their parenting skills. Supportive parenting involves a plethora of skills that one must employ in order to become good at parenting.
It may sound weird, but parenting is no less than a game of permutation-combination! To not only understand but embrace the complexities of one’s childhood, parents must understand almost all spheres of their child’s life when that have no one to talk to. From being emotionally available to protecting their children from all the existing evils, parents can not always succeed but definitely give a fair shot at becoming supportive.
Being a supportive parent means having your child’s best interests at heart and being present, involved and helpful. Here are 8 steps you can follow to become a supportive parent:
Spending time with your children on different occasions will give you an insight into what they need and when! Moreover, it will add to your quality time that must be dedicated only to your family, to be able to create a space exclusively for loved ones.
Actively listen to what your children might have to say to respond accordingly so that they feel heard. Responsive parenting then creates a space for interaction between the parents and the children to clarify various kinds of needs, be it emotional or physical.
Make sure that you aim at creating a judgment-free space for your children to be able to express their most difficult emotions, admit to their mistakes, or even ask you about things they can’t ask others. Help them come back to you at the end of the day! A judgment-free space is a safe space, and your children will understand your limitations; it is okay for you to have your reactions and opinions, but never at the expense of your child’s feeling of safety :)
A significant part of support is also to show trust in the other person. Establishing trust in your children and their capabilities is another way of being supportive and helping them gain the strength to do bigger and better things in life.
Giving space to your children is a part of the process for them to grow in the direction of their own, with your constant support. This will help them get independent, manage their emotions, hardships and everything else that might come their way on their way.
Acknowledgement of what they do and what they feel is also fundamental to let them have the right amount of validation from back home. This will boost their self-esteem and make them more secure in life.
Respecting the choices your children will make is another way of being supportive. You may or may not always align with their preferences, but mere respect is enough for them to continue with whatever they have decided and acknowledge your possible disagreement.
Practising empathy with your children is an extremely healthy way of showing your support. Before jumping to any conclusions, understanding the situation and motivation behind an act is of utmost importance. Being empathetic will never leave room for misunderstanding in the family.
The positives of supportive parenting
Home is the first social environment a child is exposed to. Biologically, we are programmed to seek and find safety in the environment we are in. So feeling safe at home develops a feeling of comfort and lays the groundwork for a stable sense of self. Being the closest to our children, parents are mostly the first few people a child starts to look up to, so much so that their support and validations mean the world to them. A pat on the back from a father who isn’t very expressive or the acceptance from a mother to finally get a tattoo done is sometimes enough for children to feel that they are being heard, seen and acknowledged by their parents.
Supportive parents can bring immense change in the way children live life and see the world outside. Children who have a sense of security, are attended to, and feel a sense of freedom even when they are with their parents may experience a sense of contentment in life, which is extremely healthy for their overall well being. In addition, supportive parenting can act as a weapon against the evils in a child’s life like peer pressure, failure, or even disappointment.
Download the Now&Me app and let us know what expressions of supportive parenting you follow or recommend to other parents!
1. Does being supportive mean always saying yes to what a child is saying?
No! Being supportive means creating a space where your child feels EMPOWERED to take the decision for themselves. It is to create an environment where the child feels safe to ask for things and understands that their voice is heard. E.g., Your child wants a tattoo, a supportive parent would either agree or, if they have concerns, have a CONVERSATION with them and come to a decision together, instead of just saying no.
2. Can scolding be involved in supportive parenting?
Anger is a very human emotion to feel. Of course, sometimes, your child may do something that annoys you, bothers you, or angers you. Whether scolding is okay or not depends on how you define it. Humiliating or blaming the child will never result in a behaviour change; it will lead to the child feeling more scared to come to you with their thoughts, feelings and actions. Punishment, when done correctly, allows the child to UNDERSTAND their actions and modify their behaviour. Punishment without a result-oriented space is just inducing shame in the child. Accountability with each child looks different; hitting the child is a clear no but otherwise, set the pace with your child. How do THEY understand things? What do they respond to?
This blog post was proofread and edited by our in-house psychologist, Shaifila.