Parenting can be the hardest job in the world. Each child is an individual with his or her own perceptions of the world, and parents need to model the behavior they want to see their children learn, especially when it comes to problem-solving. 

Raven Daer, Communications Specialist with Envision Counselling and Support Centre, said a parent's role is to be a positive and encouraging voice, even when life is hectic.

"We have schedules, we have agendas, we have jobs and things that simply just need to be done, but I think it's important to focus on reshaping our thoughts and everything that we have learned through the course of our childhood," she noted.

"Just as society has changed, I'd like to shift the focus from fear and control moreso to connection and attention. I think that that is really important because when we're talking about parenting, we are talking about one of the hardest jobs in the world and there is no one-size-fits-all sort of fix or solution when it comes to parenting. When it's resolving conflicts or situations and those sorts of things, what might work for some children and families really might not work for the next, and that's okay."

Daer said it's important for parents to give themselves the grace and patience they also want to extend to their children.

"I know, I know, it's very hard to do, but we really need to focus on that because it is a truly key component to healthy parenting. Focusing on that meaningful connection and attention versus using the typical rewards, bribery, punishments, all of those things that induce fear and control versus empowering our children to navigate the world with a little bit of curiosity, but also protecting themselves and just knowing that they are okay to fail, they're okay to make mistakes."

It is the role of the parents, she pointed out, to provide and create this nurturing environment where children feel safe to make mistakes. This is also not such an easy thing to do.

"It really is just being open to trying new things, being open to having those conversations and discussions with other parents, people that are going through similar situations and just knowing that if you try one thing and it doesn't work, don't give up. Be persistent. Try new things."

"Sometimes it's as simple as when we were nurturing these little babies that we first brought home. They cry, and what does that mean? That means that they need something from us, whether it be a little diaper change, they need some food. Maybe they just need some skin-on-skin contact and a little bit of love. It's the same thing with our children as they're growing through all of the ages and stages, the presenting behaviors and characteristics and things that we notice that are maybe negative or hard for us to accept and deal with are the very things that our children are telling us, 'hey, something's wrong. I require a little bit more. I need something from you'. And it's our job to figure that out, as hard as it seems it is."

Parenting is a lifelong journey.

"We're going to ride the waves and it's going to ebb and flow, but just never giving up, knowing that you are that safe place for your child, and, you are, at the end of the day, where they come to dump all of the problems from the world," she shared. "We as adults understand that, too. Sometimes we dump all of our things on our partners and our spouses after having a bad day and just knowing that they meet us with that respect and that safety, non-judgment, and how that impacts our life and how we navigate through those situations is the same for our children. As much as we are watching them grow, they are struggling with all of that growth themselves, navigating the world expectations that are placed upon them judgments, and just even relationships with friends and things like that." 

Parenting is, essentially, shaping and forming our future of our communities and the future of our world, said Daer. 

"So it's really important to nurture and empower our children, as hard as that empowerment can seem when it comes back to us like, 'no, you're not hearing me!' or, 'I don't want to do that!'"

She said rather than teaching them to live in fear, it's better to nurture their empowerment.

"Another big part of it is modeling behaviors and problem solving solutions that we would like our children to learn," she shared. "So even me as a parent, if I do something where I'm like, 'ohh man, like I did not handle that to the best of my ability' or looking back, it's like I wish I had done that better. Tell your children that. Tell them that you didn't like how you handled the situation and explain to them, 'I'm going to do better and I recognize that this wasn't okay'. Those are the building blocks that are going to teach them how to navigate healthy relationships moving forward in the future. So just taking accountability is really important." 

Daer pointed out that accountability and acceptance are equally important components to building long-lasting nurturing relationships with our children.

"It's easy to let our feelings and expectations impact the way that we treat them, whether we like to admit it or not. So we just need to kind of lower our expectations a little bit, and allow our children to make mistakes. Create an environment that allows them to feel nurtured and safe enough to do so."

"It's hard to watch them fail. We want to do the best that we can for our children and protect them from harm and wrongdoing. But in that process, sometimes we do more damage than good, so it's a slippery slope, parenting, I tell you. But we're all out there. We're all doing it, and we're all messy, and just trying to figure it out and that's okay."

"Our children are not fully grown. Their brains are still developing and it's going to take time and they are going through a lot, a lot of big changes," she said, adding we need to use compassion and patience as they grow, and just do our best.

"I have a counsellor-favourite quote here by an award-winning author, L.R. Knost. She says, 'If controlling another human being is the goal, then force is necessary. Fear, intimidation, threats, power plays, physical pain. Those are the means of control. But if growing healthy humans is the goal, then building trust relationships, encouraging, guiding leading teaching and communicating are the tools for success'."

"I fully stand behind that like just being that positive and encouraging voice guiding our children, modeling that behavior and those problem-solving skills. It's very important," Daer said, noting Knost's resources are available online.

"We are breaking these generational traumas and we are learning how to build healthier relationships and navigate without that fear and control, and there's going to be a lot of resentment and tension that comes along with that. Keeping that in mind and giving yourself that grace, debriefs and checking in with yourself, making sure that you feel that you did the best that you can do. If not, do some reflection that self reflection is very, very important and very powerful."

At the same time, she noted, parents who are struggling with this should not be afraid to reach out to community resources for help in this area.

"There are many support groups, agencies, a lot of folks in the community who are going through the same thing, and sometimes just knowing that you're not alone is a huge piece of it," she commented. "Don't be afraid to reach out and give yourself the grace to try new things and recognize that you are going to make mistakes. That's okay. That's part of being human, but we just need to learn from that and grow from that and take all of the education and the knowledge that we gain day-to-day and strive to be better than we were." 

She added they have parenting programs at Envision including the Family Support Program, and the Diversion Program. Daer added the reminder, that parents are also growing as people, and are also always learning. 

"We are learning every single day what works, what doesn't, what we find to be effective, what makes us feel good, and what doesn't. Recognize that child is their own unique person, their own unique individual, and we can only control ourselves the way that we respond and the way that we act."