Parenting is a complex and challenging task, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to raising children. What works for one child may not work for another. Therefore, it’s important for you as a parent to focus on your child’s individual needs, interests, and goals and support them in their journey.
1. Your child is their own person, not a report card on who you are as a parent.
Many times the parental concern comes us worrying about whether we are doing a good enough job. Whether you have a neuro-spicy/divergent child or not, if your child is not behaving, not achieving, not being the child you were expecting or have been conditioned to expect, it is common to get worried and try to control their behaviour and choices.
It is essential to recognise that every human is an individual. No matter how much anyone may look, sound or seem similar they are designed with their own personality, temperament, interests, learning style, love language and much more and your child/ren are the same.
While parents play a vital role in our child’s upbringing and development, our responsibility is to nurture and guide them to become the best version of who they are born to be.
2. Remind yourself that you continue to learn and grow together with your child. It’s a dance.
As an adult, when we become parents, it can be super tempting to think we are supposed to know what to do as the older person in the relationship. The thing to remember is, your experience of parenting is as long as you’ve been a parent.
One of the most beneficial things I learned was to take the cues from my child. Meaning they are the expert on them. They know what their needs are and our job is to lean in, listen and be curious when we don’t understand or don’t agree.
As is written in the book “Raising a Secure Child”, our job is not just being bigger and stronger, it’s being wiser and kinder too. Being willing to be wholehearted, includes accepting we don’t know everything, and nor can we.
No matter how conscious and conscientiously we do our parenting journey, we will make mistakes, we will take missteps. What is more important is that we model how we want them to behave when things are not ideal.
Children are learning from who we are being way before they understand language. It’s ok to do the dance together. Sometimes it’ll be rock and roll, and other times a quiet waltz. We get to choose the tempo through how we respond to their needs.
3. Give yourself permission to have all your feelings, even the guilty ones. They all happen for a reason.
This was a biggie for me as I’ve developed emotional fitness in the last 8ish years. In fact insight began about 8 years before that when my husband was deployed and my sister, also a military wife gave me the advice around emotional management.
When my kids were young, I did my best to pack down feelings, and put on the illusion that everything was fine. Turns out, while seemed like the best strategy for the kids wellbeing was not the best for me. Suppressing emotions meant I was more “on edge”, this creates the pressure cooker that leads to explosions when the pressure is not released gently.
The better approach, the one my sister suggested and one I highly recommend is allowing the emotions to be felt. This doesn’t mean letting them out indiscriminately. It means accepting them instead of fighting them. It means choosing the time to let them run their course, instead of letting them take over when they feel like it.
The thing about emotions are they are meant to only last 30-90 seconds. Everything else is feeling, which are about our thoughts around what happened. Most of us are responding to the thoughts about the feeling from the emotion.
Letting the emotions flow through, being consciously reflective of the thoughts, challenging their accuracy/truth is where we begin the journey to emotional mastery. Emotional fitness is the mission to maintain and continue to grow in mastery.
. Give away perfectionism aka impossible standards. What works for your family is enough. YOU are enough.
I never think of myself as a perfectionist as perfectionism is usually associated with high standards. I’m untidy, have terrible handwriting, can be disorganised. Yet turns out I run a perfectionist strategy.
What does that mean. It means when I make mistakes I get mad at myself. The assumption being that I “shouldn’t” make mistakes. Doh.
When I began my coaching journey my mentor and teacher in Meta DynamicsTM stated, perfectionism often associated with high standards is more accurately having no standards because perfect is unattainable.
When we set a standard that is unattainable, we create a great negative feedback loop of never meeting our own expectations. We end up judging ourselves, no outside input required.
To avoid the perfectionist strategy means great self-compassion, accepting our imperfections. Being gracious when we make those inevitable missteps.
5. Give yourself the care and compassion you give your kids, and that you wished you’d had as a child.
Many of us are often our own worst critics, but it’s essential to be gentle with ourselves and practice self-compassion.
This is when we model how to get through those difficult times for our children. They are watching and learning anyway, may as well be learning how to be kind to themselves.
Remember that you are worthy of love, care, and compassion, just as much as anyone else. By giving yourself the same level of care and kindness that you offer your children or loved ones, you can foster a healthy relationship with yourself and build resilience to face life’s challenges.
For those of us raised with parents who we experienced as critical, judgemental or hard to please, we may not have developed the level of self-actualisation or identity that empowers us to deliver the level of nurture we want to pass on.
Even more challenging, when we don’t understand ourselves and are working to break the cycle, we can either over or under compensate in trying to level the playing field.
This is when reviewing our foundations and even rebuilding them can be the most influential impact we can have for enabling our future self.
You can find out about the steps to doing this yourself here https://leannegwakeling.com.au/12-steps-to-creating-a-family-that-thrives/
If you’d appreciate some support, then reach out,
let me guide you to Empowering YOU to be the leader your children need.
It starts with YOU, their leader/s.
Let’s set you up to be present and have a touch stone to return to when things go off track.
You are enough, they are worthy and we all belong.
Together we ARE Stronger.