Here we are in the New Year of 2012, with most of us probably making New Year’s resolutions. I resolve to eat less frozen custard, take time to smell the roses and vow to look good in a Speedo. Alas, some of us just set ourselves up for failure.

For parents; however, I have tried to develop and share some realistic New Year’s resolutions. With an acknowledgment to Caitlin Giles (who blogs at Wee Windy City), here are 12 resolutions to consider:

1) PLAY. Remember that it is the job of a child to play and the privilege of a parent to join in the fun. Work will wait. Calls can be returned later, the laundry will still be dirty in 15 minutes.

2) TRY TO FIND FUN THINGS TO DO TOGETHER. St. Louis is a great place to live and raise a family. Take advantage of all the things this community has to offer.

3) LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD. The most important thing in your child’s life is the attention you give him or her. Focus on what he or she says. As an added bonus, you will laugh a lot. When you look at the world through your child’s eyes, you will be amazed.

4) ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY. Tolerate the mess. Almost everything is washable.

5) READ. Even if you read to your child, read more. Books are good.

6) DO WHAT YOU THINK IS BEST FOR YOUR CHILD, YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY. Don’t worry about what your neighbors, parents and in-laws think (unless you are my kids). Do your best and be yourself.

7) EACH DAY IS A NEW DAY. It’s a new opportunity to have fun, play, share and be happy. If yesterday was not a good day, concentrate on today. Your children live in the moment. Join them.

8) TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO BE CARING AND GRATEFUL FOR THEIR BLESSINGS. Do this by example. Be kind and demonstrate the behaviors you wish to see.

9) BE REAL. Learn what is normal for your child’s developmental stage and expect the normal, not the exceptional. Remember that your kids are just that…KIDS. Don’t expect them to be what they are not or do what they cannot.

10) ASK YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR DAY. Explore their experiences from their perspective. Show them that what they do and how they feel is important to you.

11) SHOW YOUR CHILDREN EVERY DAY HOW MUCH YOU LOVE THEM. Hug your kids. Kiss them. Your attention and love mean everything to them.

12) TAKE TIME TO ENJOY THE GOOD TIMES AND DON’T OBSESS ABOUT THE NOT-SO-GOOD TIMES. Take opportunities to teach and not to criticize. Every day, remember that parenthood is a gift. Then comes grandparenthood—that’s even better!

Happy New Year!

Dr. Joseph Kahn is Department of Pediatrics Chair at Mercy Children’s Hospital, stjohnsmercy.org.