Parenting is hard.
Parenting is a privilege.
Parenting should change you.
Parenting is immensely rewarding.
One of the biggest challenges that gets shared by my clients is that of parenting. So I wanted to take a moment today to share with you the most effective ways to parent.
No. 1. Deciding to become a parent.
Many people decide to become a parent by making the statement ‘I want to have a baby’. If your driving force is wanting to have a baby, then this might not be the right time for you. I say this because wanting to HAVE a baby, and wanting to BE a parent are poles apart, and until you want to BE a parent you’re not ready to HAVE a baby. One is possessive, the other is adaptive.
No.2. Becoming a parent will and should change you.
Being a parent is about being ready to adapt and change, and learn about yourself. You children will teach you so much about who you are, how you get triggered emotionally (they will push all your emotional buttons at some point), and if you are willing to go with this, they will make you a better version of you. Being a parent is about being ready to change, and being ready to be challenged, and being prepared to learn and try new things.
No.3. Children will learn by who you are not what you tell them.
As parents we can often fall into the trap of telling our children. We often do this with the best will in the world, wanting to impart our knowledlge and lessons learnt so they don’t have to make the same mistakes. However, we now know that in fact the biggest influence on what sort of person your children will grow up to be is not what you’ve told them, but who they have seen you to be. If you go around being aggressive or judgmental towards others, even if you are loving to your children, they will mirror this behaviour themsleves. If they never see you be kind to yourself, they will not learn that self-care is a important part of love and acceptance, self esteem and self worth. And if they see you have no boundaries with others, and give everything to every one else, they too will grow up as a people pleaser. However, if you set healthy boundaries, treat others with kindness and respect and compassion, you will have children who grow up to show these qualities towards themselves and others.
No.4. Arguments and Resolutions
Parents argue. Kids sometimes see this. If you going to have a fulll blown row, please have it when the kids aren’t around. However, as couter-intuitive as it may sound, it is important that children see their parents (parent and grand parent / safe adults) sometimes disagree, and even fall out. The bit that most often gets missed though for children is how do things get resolved. For example; a family are sat at the table and the parents / adults start to disagree. The children see this and they are learning how to argue, (so think about how healthy your arguing style / technique is!?!). The parents stop the argument becasue the children are present and it’s bedtime for the kids. So the argument stops, a sense of normality resumes in terms of the bedtime routine, but everyone knows ther eis an atmosphere between the adults. The children go to bed, and when alone, the adults sort out the disagreement and make up (in whatever guise that takes 😉 The next morning, the kids come downstairs and all is well in the world again between the grown up’s, but the kids are none the wiser as to how that got resolved. So childrne are missing out on a huge part of how to settle a disagreement, (remember they learn from watching you be you, not by what you tell them to do). So, even if you have to fake it, please resolve this, apologise and make friends (in an age appropriate way) in front of your children so they can learn this vital skill of being in a relationship. Otherwise they may also walk away from arguments as an adult and not know how to make friends again.
No.5. Ask not Tell
It’s so easy for us to be in tell mode with our kids, becuase we know what needs to be done by when and how. But if you learn to communciate more with your children, verbalise what is going to be happening and when then this allows you to have an ask not tell dialogue in your home which will make everyone feel much more respected and accepted, and able to use their voice. So the night before, you ask your kids if they know what will be happening in the morning, if they don’t you ask if you can tell them. In the morning you ask if they remember, and ask if they want to know more about the days plans. This allows everyone to feel included and get out any worries or feelings about the days plans ahead of the ‘right put your shoes on we’re going to so and so’s’ whihc prompts a full melt down because they hadnt’ been expecting it. This is all about managing expectations.
No.6. Communicate and Recieve
When your child talks to you, listen. We can’t expect them to listen to us if they haven’t experienced us listening to them. Communication isn’t just about what we transmit, it is also about what we recieve, and your children, whilst undoubtedly full of exorbitant amounts of waffle, are also full of insights into who they are, and how they see the world. Try not to tune out these wonderful nuggets and moments of absolute connection. Your child will flourish when they feel heard and seen and accepted.
Parents make mistakes, and lots of them. If yuo get it worng with your child, say sorry. The most classic example I see of this is when an argument starts and emotions flare up, and both parent and child start shouting, and the irony is that quite often, you have a child shouting at a parent, and the parent then shouts back ‘don’t you shout at me!’. We can never correct a behaviour by displaying it ourselves. If a child is shouting at you the greatest likelihood is that they have learned that communication style from you. So, when tempers have calmed, this is your opportunity to apologise, and be the first to do so. This doesn’t mean conceding on your point, it means apologising for your behaviour. So in this example, it’s apoligising for shouting, admitting that wasn’t the best way to communicate, your emotions took over and you need to learn how to not let that happen, and you’ll work on it. This then opens the door for the child to also apologise and then a conversation about why they can’t do or have what they want can happen. AND, they’ve learned that apoligising isn’t about winning or losing, its about taking responsibility for your role in a disagreement / situation.
Try to approach every person, every experience, every disagreemnt with love. Love for them, love for yourself, love for each other. After all, love is love is love. It is the gateway to acceptance, to compassion and to respect. And if yuor child can learn these attributes then the chances of them going on to be more fulfilled in life and relationships as an adult is exponentially higher. And that’s when you can sit back and think, yeah, I’m doing okay at this parenting thing.
No.9. Parenting is for life
We all need parenting throughout our lives. How we need parenting will change. So when you beocme a parent, be sure to have parent role models in your life that you can look up to, talk to and lean on. And be ready to step in and step up in whatever way your child needs for the rest of your life. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll have a life long relatioship with your children.
No.10. See a therapist
If things are going well at home, beofre you send your kid for therapy, please go yourself. Most behaviour in children can be resolved by the parents if they learn some new techniques for helping the children, and have the opportuintiy to offload their emotions on someone who isn;t emotionally invested in them or their lives, and so won’t judge them. Parents being more emotionally resilient and solution focussed will also strengthen that child / parent bond. Always see the behaviour as separate to the child. Help they to do them same and then they will realise they have a choice about how they behave, and not see it is an intrinsic part of themselves.
If this has made you think about your own parenting style or you want to find out more, please either leave a comment below or get in touch.
Lydia – The Confidence Coach