Community Magazine

Leadership Skills=Great Parentish Tips

By Momishblog @momishblog
This post is inspired by a post on Playground Dad that gave 5 parenting tips for becoming a better leader.  As a Momish, wife, and a professional, I'm always attracted to tips on how to build better leadership skills and this post had some great ones.  In fact, some of them were just brilliant!
Here's my take on these tips as a Momish.
1.  Have one on ones with your family.  Playground Dad refers to this as family time around the dinner table.  He's exactly right.  You have one on one meetings with your team members at the office so why wouldn't you have it with your child?  I think our kids are often looking for our time and attention more than anything else.  If you set an hour a week or every other week out for your colleagues, try doing it for your child.
As Ishes, this can be really tough.  The stepparent relationship can be tough and when the kids are with you, you're not the main attraction.  However, the one on one relationship is still important.  Most stepparents find that kids are more willing to open up to them when the biological parents aren't around.   If you can plan a little of that time together it will help build your relationship.  A word of caution:  don't try to hard or over plan the time.  You don't want the one on one time to feel forced.
2.  Parent each child differently.  Playground Dad points out that you don't treat your employees all the same so you shouldn't treat your children the same either.  Again, he's exactly right.  While we only have one child, I've learned that even this relationship requires different approaches depending on the topic, the mood, or his age.
As Ishes juggling how you treat your stepchildren can be tough.  You want everyone to feel welcomed and cared for.  Personally I find it's the little things that count.  Having the sonish's favorite coffee or bath products when he visits makes him feel included.  We also make a point to discuss the big stuff that's going on when we talk by phone and share news from friends and family that he may not see very often.  By keeping him in the loop we keep him informed and hope to prevent that horrible "you never told me that" conversation.
3.  Plan time for Mom and Dad.  Playground Dad points out that leaders take breaks at retreats or on vacations to recharge and be inspired.  The same is true for parents.  You need a break from the chaos that family can be to recharge and be your best self.
For divorced parents, this can feel very selfish.  Often we try to make up for not being a traditional family by giving all of our attention to our children.  We become over bearing parents who give and give to the point of creating unhealthy relationships and expectations.  By making one another priority, you set the example for healthy relationships.  You show that your partner is priority and deserves respect.  When the parent shows respect to the step parent, the children are more likely to follow.
4.  Don't bother with the "Do as I say, not as I do" attitude.  Your kids are watching often more than they're listening.  Be an example.  You would do the same thing at the office.  If you're a total slacker at work, your team doesn't respect you.  The same is true as a parent.
Ishes are under a different kind of microscope.  Unfortunately the ex husband or wife is often saying negative things to the child on top of any misgivings he/she may have on their own.  This makes your actions as a Momish even more important.  Throwing temper tantrums and being selfish will show your stepchild how to behave.  Same is true if you speak or act disrespectfully or negatively to your partner.  Even when you think your stepchild isn't giving you the time of day they're watching.
5.  Have fun!  Playground Dad has dance parties at his house (or so I read, we haven't been invited over yet) which sound uber fun! Some of the best team building activities I do at the office are ones that cause us to laugh at ourselves and sometimes each other.  The same is true at home.  Laugh!  Have fun! Relax!  It doesn't all have to be so serious, even if what's going on in your life at the time is super serious.
This is where ishes can really have fun.  Your stepchild is dealing with two parents who likely don't like one another and are sometimes consumed with the negativity that came from the breakup, no matter how long its been.  So be the safe harbor for your stepchildren.  Be the person who brings a little fun in their day.  Through a dance party, sing in the car with them, joke around a little.  This will lighten the mood for your entire family.
#6 is one I've personally added to the list.
6.  Be authentic.  We all know leaders who lack authenticity.  They are so busy climbing the corporate ladder and kissing the butts necessary to get there that they're jerks the rest of the time.  They take credit for your work and they just seem slimy.  Kids can sense that even faster than adults so be true to yourself and them.  If you're setting the example (see #4) for your family, you want it to be an authentic one.  And don't let the fear of your family not liking you get in the way.  They love you and will appreciate the real you.
It's so easy for an ish to feel like he/she has to put on an act, or be someone they're not in order to please everyone.  Step kids are extra sensitive to anyone who tries to hard.  They're not stupid and they know that you want them to like you so they're watching for you to be fake.  Just relax and be yourself.  That's who your partner fell in love with.  The kids will too.

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