by Courtney Sullivan
Families come in all shapes and sizes with unique challenges and strengths. At the helm of successful families are the parents. Parenthood might be a struggle some days, with hefty responsibility, but it's among the most rewarding jobs you'll ever have.
Every fourth Sunday of July is National Parents' Day! As you get ready to celebrate, take some time out to reflect on your goals as a parent.
We've invited some of our favorite experts and Pregnancy.org members to share their thoughts to get you started:
As a parent, what's one way that you strive to nurture your children?
"I try to nurture my children, who are now teens and young adults, by encouraging them to see their strengths and by reminding them that no one expects them to be perfect. Of course, they're going to receive the odd disappointing mark in school. Of course, they're sometimes going to say or do something they wish they hadn't. What's important is that they learn from these experiences and move on. Beating themselves up for being less-than-perfect doesn't accomplish anything. It only makes life harder and leaves them feeling alone and unworthy of love.” ~Ann Douglas, Pregnancy.org Contributing Expert
"In order to raise happy children, it's essential for parents to nurture themselves. Make sure you don't spend all your energy on your kids. Get some adult time for yourself as well. Not only will you be happier, you'll also be modeling something wonderful to your children." ~Dr. Shoshana Bennet, Clinical Psychologist
"Maybe a little silly, but I feel like if I make sure they get abundant hugs, kisses, and I love you's every single day, then they will carry that love throughout their lives." ~Joee, Pregnancy.org member
Does your family have any special traditions or rituals you've incorporated?
"We try to focus on making the most of every day moments. Some of our family favorites include taking drives through the countryside and sharing our dreams. Meals are truly family affairs -- from cooking to the table and clean up. Our faith is incorporated into our daily lives and the choices we make. Birthdays are true celebrations of life and made a "big deal" by allowing the celebrant to enjoy being King or Queen for the Day! We also try to encourage a lifelong love of learning through a variety of means." ~Missy, Pregnancy.org Staff
"We're a young family so we are still making traditions! But we do eat dinner at the table together every single night. TV goes off, radio goes off, and we (try) to enjoy each other's company." ~Joee, Pregnancy.org member
How do you empower your children to meet whatever challenges life has to offer?
"The way I empower my children to meet life's challenges is to discuss the situation with them, encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings, listen to them, and help them problem solve so that it comes from within them. Knowing they have what they need within them and with the right support, they will be able to handle anything." ~Justine Arian, The Mama Coach
"Embracing the idea that tough times are there to learn from can help your children handle anything. The harder the challenge, the more there is to gain from it and the more they'll cherish the smoother times." ~Dr. Shoshana Bennet, Clinical Psychologist