Just as there really is no such thing as a “sixty second parent,” there is also no such thing as a perfect parent. Unfortunately, many parents, especially those of young children, experience a great deal of anxiety because they try to do the impossible.

This year, consider some core advice to find delight in parenting while avoiding the stress of attempting perfect parenting. Simply put, keep your focus on the essential job of a parent: to create an environment that nurtures a child until she is physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to be independent.

How is this done?

Begin with patience. A new baby cries, spits up, wakes up at all hours and demands total attention. Pace yourself and be patient with both yourself and your baby.
When you are very tired, ask for help.
Talk to your baby and read to your growing child.
Set sensible and appropriate limits. Be definite, but not dogmatic, about them.
Share your beliefs and stick to your moral standards.
Wipe away tears.
Laugh at your child’s silly jokes.
Hold your child’s hand tightly crossing the street or experiencing a dark, scary night.
Talk firmly and try not to shout. Never hit.
Rejoice with your child in her accomplishments.
Wipe away the tears (both hers and yours) of disappointment and keep smiling.
Model and teach care and respect for others. Encourage the habit of sharing with playmates.

And remember, above all else: be present. You can’t always be there, so don’t get fooled into the myth of  quality time. There is only time. Make use of it while and when you can.

Having done any or all of these things, you will still not be a “perfect parent.” However, both you and your child will be taking steps toward your heart’s desire–for her to have a good and independent life of her own.