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Personal Attributes and Skills for Effective Parenting

Readiness: physical, emotional, social, intellectual and financial readiness to parent, as well as the realization of the many personal and family adjustments that parenthood brings

Personal Traits: good character, realism, confidence, sensitivity to others, empathy, caring, resourcefulness, patience, flexibility, generosity, and a sense of humor

Relationship Skills: ability to build and maintain positive and productive relationships, as well as to communicate and resolve conflicts effectively

Life Skills: planning, decision making, and problem solving abilities as well as time, household and financial management skills

Knowledge and Skills for Effective Parenting

Prenatal Development and Care: understanding prenatal development; obtaining proper medical care and nutrition before and during pregnancy; avoiding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco during pregnancy

Sensitive Early Care: recognizing the crucial importance of early sensitive, affectionate care in promoting secure parental attachment, sound emotional health, and brain development (including understanding why babies cry and responding appropriately and promptly to their needs)

Care through Ages and Stages: understanding and effectively planning for and responding to children's needs and stages in the following areas, recognizing that children will differ and identifying and accommodating those who may have special needs:

  • Physical: providing appropriate nutrition, clothing, shelter, hygiene, health care, physical fitness, and sleep routines
  • Safety: creating child-safe environments and using equipment to prevent accidental injuries (the leading cause of death in young children), including the use of car restraints; knowledge about water, traffic and poison hazards; information about Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Emotional: developing children’s ability to trust, care, nurture, empathize and love by responding effectively to children’s needs through nurturing, and by understanding, acknowledging, and helping them deal with their feelings and emotions during the different ages and stages of development
  • Social: providing the foundation for positive and productive relationships with others and teaching appropriate social behavior
  • Intellectual: providing the appropriate sensory stimulation necessary for optimum early brain development and providing the appropriate learning and leisure activities at each stage of a child's development
  • Ethical: helping children develop morality, conscience, and character that will guide them throughout their lives

Healthy Family Relationships and Lifestyles: understanding factors that contribute to strong, physically and emotionally healthy families

Effective Guidance and Discipline: learning to use parenting techniques that build a child's respect for self and parents through effective limit setting, including the use of convincing interventions, modeling, and teaching rather than punishment, and with the understanding that effective methods vary with children of different ages and temperaments

Abusive Situations: understanding the short and long-term risks and consequences to children of physical and emotional abuse, domestic violence, and other damaging parental behaviors

Challenging Situations: appreciating the impact of parenthood’s life changes, and of being prepared as a family to cope with illness, divorce, stepfamilies, death, and other crises and adverse circumstances

Parenting Styles: being aware that families' parenting styles can differ yet still be effective

Attitudes, Roles and Responsibilities of Effective Parenting

Respect for Parenting: as an essential, worthwhile, enriching, and prestigious endeavor that requires caring, involved, and prepared fathers and mothers

Respect for Parenting Education: as preparation to provide the love, care, nurturing, involvement, positive discipline and guidance for the healthy development of children into self-reliant, responsible, caring, and nurturing adults and citizens

Conscious Parenting: based on a deliberate choice and commitment to be the primary caregivers, nurturers and educators of one's children and to provide them with consistent guidance

Responsible Parenting: consistently offering the time, attention, and financial resources needed to raise children to become responsible, contributing, and fulfilled adults

Culturally Aware Parenting: that strengthens families by celebrating cultural uniqueness, values, and pride while developing respect for differences among people and groups

Please note: This list of suggested topics has been compiled from prominently and widely accepted research, through books and articles, and through research-based textbooks currently used in family and consumer sciences parenting and child development classes. Many of these references can be found among the Selected Resources in Appendix C of Prepare Tomorrow's Parents advocacy guide, Preparing Tomorrow's Parents Today: How to Bring Parenting Education for Children and Teens to Your Schools.

These guidelines were developed by a committee comprised of members of Prepare Tomorrow’s Parents’ Board of Directors and Advisory Board. It represents the diverse expertise of Dr. Kerby Alvy, Joan Message Barbuto, Suzy Garfinkle, Stuart Harris, Dr. Harriet Heath, Mary Jurmain, Carol Lewke, Dr. Myriam Miedzian, Dr. Dana R. McDermott, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Janet Pozmantier, Marilyn Swierk and Andrea Schuver, Executive Director.



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