The Hardest Soft Skills for Parents

Parents need so much more than love to be effective.  They need some hard skills that are directly related to the “work” of parenting like how to change a diaper, how to organize a kids bedroom (anyone want to help me with this?!!), and how to meal prep and plan.   But maybe even more important (and difficult!) are the soft skills or personal attibutes that allow parents to work with their children.  Here are what I consider the 7 most important soft skills for parents, based on my experience as a coach, counselor and mother.

  1. Beginners Mind:  Have you ever experienced this exact moment with this exact child? No, of course not! Humans, especially children, are constantly maturing so the parent-child relationship has to be dynamic, flexible, and willing to start over again. Over and over and over again.
  2. Non-striving: We have to let go of any ideas of “achieving” a certain type of child.  Yes we raise them with intention, but we also have to let go of trying to make them into something that they are not.  Would you ever yell at a flower for not blooming at the right time? That would be rediculous.  But that is what we do to our children when we are disappointed they don’t meet our unchecked expectations about their development on our timeline.
  3. Letting go:  What does your ideal child/parent look like? The only one you have before you and within you.  There is no perfect child. There is no perfect parent.  We are all humans with messy human lives.  We must let go of the stories we have about how this should look.
  4. Non-judgement: Judging implies criticism that is not constructive.  And while yes, we should always want to improve, we should not constantly be comparing our kids and ourselves against others or even a higher standard lest we want to make this journey as miserable and mental as possible.  We need to find acceptance the as-is of any situation we are in with our kids without adding unhelpful labels and stories to the trials of parenting.
  5. Acceptance:  Recognizing and accepting your child and your parenting/life realities is paramount to choosing how to respond.  When you choose not to fight the way life is, you enter a state of abundance and notice that you already have everything you need.
  6. Trust: Parenting is a process that requires so much belief that everything will be OK.  Do you have evidence? No. But trust is the best anti-anxiety medicine I have found and cultivating it for this journey is integral.
  7. Patience:  The capacity to accept pain/stress/uncertainty without getting angry or upset–that is the task of parenting.  We simply need tons and tons of patience. We need to be able to produce more rope when we are at the end of our lines. Without patience we just hurt ourseleves and teach non-adapative skills in the inevitably messy process of raising kids and life.

Parenting as I have always believed is the most important job many of us are lucky to enough to do in our lives.  We literally get to raise humans into the change we want to see in the world.  The way we parent can be a spiritually rejuvenating, politically inspired, an act of social justice, and so much more.  Implementing these 7 soft skills has the ability to transcend the daily parenting tasks from something we have to get through to a mindful presence that supports both parent’s and child’s growth.


(C) 2018. Nurture: Family Education & Guidance.

Contact me: Emily Rosen Rittenberg:


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