Parenthood is hard. Let’s not beat around the bush. You’re now responsible for the health and well-being of another human on this earth. It’s your job to prepare them for adulthood and teach them all the life lessons that will shape them into the best person they can be. You’ll want to protect your child from harm.

There will be times when you’ll be so angry that you want your own space but you’ll also want to be a supportive parent – someone who listens and is there through the thick and thin of life’s ups and downs. So how can you be that person? How do you get the balance right? And what traits do you need to have to show your child you’re going to be there for them not matter what? Let’s take a look.

Support Their Decisions

So, your child wants to study law but you are aware of the huge fees that are associated with going to law school. You try and steer him/her down a different path in the hope that they won’t follow through on their dream of becoming an attorney. Would you like if your parents had done the same thing to you? Should your job as a parent not be to support your child unconditionally and give them the provisions they need to succeed in life?

If money is the sole issue why you’re not behind the decision 100%, why not take out a student loan from a private lender to set your child up for success? This way, he/she will get access to the funds they need and you can be the co-signer to show your support and willingness to help out if needed.

Have Empathy

Put yourself in your child’s shoes when the going gets tough so you can see things from his/her perspective. Demonstrate your willingness to listen and be the landing cushion for them when they need support and understanding. When something happens and there’s a negative reaction or some tension, think about how you’d feel if you were in that same position. How would you have liked your parents to react? This might give you a better understanding of what your child is going through.

An empathetic perspective can also be a beneficial tool for motivating in times of struggle and ease. Understanding that motivation is sometimes necessary but learning how to provide it without adding pressure is key. Practicing empathy in your daily parenting can help you reach for it when the stakes are high, and crisis has hit and your potential to overreact can do more harm than good.

Be Open and Honest

Many parents think that being supportive equates to doing something. In reality, being supportive means being open and honest. It’s about listening to what you’re being told and being able to pick up on certain emotions. It’s about being there for your child when they need you but also giving them space when they need some time alone.

Get used to hiding your open emotions in situations where they could get in the way and cause a situation to become worse. For example, it your child confides in you that he/she is being bullied in school, do you really think it’s a good idea to get angry and start shouting about contacting the school and other parents? A reaction like this would cause a breakdown in communication between you and your child and you could, potentially, miss out on getting to the root cause of the problem.