What if parenting were not so complicated?
There are days where I just sit back and think, “Why is it so hard?”, these are usually the days where I have reacted in a way to my children’s behaviours that makes me think that maybe I am the child in this? And then there are those glorious days where everything runs so smoothly, you are totally in your zone of superstar parent, you’re feeling empowered and in control… so you stop and think “Why can’t every day be like this?”
I am by no means trying to claim myself to be a parenting expert, however, I am a mother and I have definitely been thrown some challenges along the way so far.
As a parent, I am fascinated with how we can use a knowledge of positive psychology and how the brain works to first develop a deeper understanding of our children and their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and then to use this knowledge to improve our lives on the whole.
However, here is the dilemma…there is so much information out there, it’s literally daunting. Statistics, different methods, and conflicting concepts; How can we stay sane? It is easy to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing if you’re feeling constantly overwhelmed.
My answer for myself has always been to avoid a “fear” based style of parenting where we are constantly questioning ourselves and rather leaning towards a “trust” based style focused on intuition and love.
Tune into your child’s heart/mind connection and try to hear what they are “not” saying. Children primarily communicate through feelings and behaviours. This is why it is so tricky, we can’t have a grown-up conversation about what’s bothering them because this is something they have to learn to articulate over time and it is our role to teach them how to do this.
What we can do is provide ‘opportunities’ for communication and then let this be your guide. If we give each of our children at least 15 minutes of our undivided attention (that means no distractions, no phone!) this makes them feel loved and important in our lives. It creates the space for them to express what they are feeling. I have noticed full days where I have been with my children and I have been getting on with my day’s tasks, taking them to their activities and finding myself at bedtime thinking that it was all a blur! What is the problem here? I was not present at any particular moment.
Take the best and worst of your own parents’ techniques and use this to your advantage to tailor what best fits you and your family. Do what’s right for you. Because if it works for you then everything will flow, if you pinpoint stress triggers and eliminate them you will be a more conscious and mindful parent.
There is something very liberating to realize you don’t need to follow what all the other mothers are doing. Your family is unique, your children are unique, your circumstances and lifestyle are unique and you are unique, so how could there possibly be one way to do it?
Our mothers had no blogs, no emailed newsletters, probably very little parenting literature altogether and they still managed to do a pretty damn good job. I’m not discounting the benefits of having access to this information by any means, in fact, I’m the first to click on an interesting article, eager to learn something new. However, it’s how you process the information that’s important! Does it cause you guilt? does it push you to judge your own parenting skills? I believe if we take the information as a gift of awareness rather than another version of the Ten Commandments then we have the power to ask ourselves, is this meant for me? Will this improve our lives in any way? If not, move on.
I think this is one of the most challenging times to be a parent, my mother tells me all the time “you kids were not such hard work!”
So what has been the shift in this paradigm?
For me personally, I feel it’s a combination of information overload, overstimulation for kids, and constantly second-guessing ourselves. Being a “good” parent has become something people try to prove to the outside world but what happened to trusting your intuition as a parent, and not looking ‘outward’ for answers but instead looking ‘inward’? If we were more connected to ourselves would we be able to notice when our children were trying to give us feedback too?
Believe in yourself as a parent, in your innate knowledge of what is right for your child. Let’s take the pressure off and maybe then we will wake up and see that maybe all this fuss takes away from the simple pleasure of watching our children grow into loving adults who simply remember the quality time they had with their parents.
I’m off to the beach with no snacks, no activities, no homework on the go, just me, the kids and some towels…