Inspired by the loving atmosphere she was raised in, Dr. Sarah Rasmi grew a strong interest in family relationships and child adjustment during her graduate studies. Accomplishing her Master’s thesis and Ph.D. dissertation, her passion grew alongside her desire to share her findings and expertise with others. She does this by publishing scientific studies on parenting and families and writing for mainstream media outlets.
If you characterize your parenting approach, how would you describe it?
I try to take a positive approach to parenting. My focus is on three things: connecting with my kids, setting a good example for them, and responding to them with respect, empathy, and love instead of anger and frustration.
Some days may be harder than others but the good thing is that there are lots of simple techniques that we can use to parent in a more positive way. I share these in my parenting skills workshops.
What do you consider as the biggest challenge in parenting?
The biggest parenting challenge is to manage our expectations. Being ‘good enough’ is much better than chasing perfection.
For example, all kids eat junk food sometimes, get dirty sometimes, and have big, public tantrums. That doesn’t make us bad parents – it just makes us human. The sooner we accept this, the better.
Failure is a part of life and we need to teach our children that it’s ok to fail sometimes. Since we’re not perfect, we shouldn’t expect them to be either.
It’s more important to reflect on our failures and try again. Research shows that this makes our kids more resilient and better adjusted throughout their lives.
What is it like being a mother?
Being a mother is the hardest and most rewarding experience of my life. It sounds like a big cliché – but you just can’t understand it until you have lived through it.
Nothing will prepare you for the joys (and hardships) that come with being a parent. I became stronger and more patient than I ever thought I could be. Being a mother is central to who I am as a person, but I try not to forget the old Sarah.
This means carving out child-free time with family and friends, as well as maintaining some of my interests. It’s not always easy – but it is possible. I’ve supported many parents through this process. I am here to support parents who are struggling with this balance through my parenting services.
Which to you has been the most challenging stage of a child’s development?
I have a toddler and teenager at home, so I get this question all the time. In my experience, every age and stage is full of excitement and challenges.
Truth be told, the issues are largely the same – it’s the context that differs. I’m facing two sets of sleep issues right now: One kid wants to wake up early, the other one wants to stay up late (later than me!). I’m also dealing with two sets of school issues: One child is adjusting to nursery, the other one is wrapping up middle school.
Why is that parenting can be so difficult and when do we typically experience this?
Parenting is inherently difficult. We have these beautiful little humans to care for and mould. We have big dreams and high hopes for them. We do everything we can to give them a path to health, happiness, and success.
The responsibility is both awesome and terrifying. As I mentioned previously, it becomes a little bit easier when we accept that we won’t be perfect. We will make mistakes. The key is how we handle them.
How do moms know how to reinforce a house rule or just let it go?
We have to balance setting rules with giving our kids some freedom and flexibility. I recommend setting a few key rules that are consistent with your family’s values, rather than a laundry list of things that don’t matter as much.
The key to enforcing these rules is being consistent. They’re more likely to listen to us when we respond to them with respect, empathy, and love instead of anger and hostility. I teach these skills in my parenting workshops.
As parents where should our primary focus lie?
Our primary focus should be fostering and maintaining a strong parent-child bond. Research shows that this connection has a profound influence on our child’s adjustment, achievements, and relationships later in life. We can strengthen our bond through talk, touch, and play.
What advice do you have to give to modern parents – our readers?
Looking after ourselves gives us the energy we need to look after our kids. It’s important to make time for your own interests and prioritize your own well-being. Connecting with other people is a great way to do this, as we know that social support is the key to happiness. Above all, remember that you’re doing a great job. Parenting is tough work – we all make mistakes. Don’t worry about being perfect, you’re more than ‘good enough’!
About Dr. Sarah
Dr. Sarah Rasmi is a Canadian psychologist (Ph.D.) and professor with a passion for supporting families. She works with parents across a range of family, relationship, and well-being issues, as well as those who want to learn new skills. Dr. Sarah is a widely published author, international speaker, and university professor. She also consults with government entities, corporations, and schools. Learn more about Dr. Sarah Rasmi. She regularly posts about parenting and families on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.