The active child. The quiet child. The talker. The screamer.
How can we let go of preconceived ideas of what our children should be? How they ‘should’ behave. Is it really helpful to use someone else’s theories and methods on parenting on OUR own children?
Before I had children I was bombarded with ‘information’ on how to create the perfect baby. How to eat, how to sleep, how to take yoga classes when I was pregnant. Once the little peanut arrived, how to breastfeed, how to make home-made organic baby food, how to create an amazing sleeper. But did anyone once tell me what I really needed to know? That the very act of parenting would release childhood emotions of my own. That the tears and the unrestrained anger exploding from a toddler could elicit responses from my own inner core that were as yet unprocessed and raw.
Here’s a thought… what if you were to ignore all the input from others and learn how to REALLY listen to your child? What if you practiced extreme empathy? Would your child’s behaviour speak to you and tell you the answers? Perhaps you could you do a better job on your own than by using most of the ‘helpful’ suggestions from parenting advisors.
If there is anything that parenting has taught me so far, it is that intuition rules. If I feel like my child needs a day of rest even though he has not played extraordinarily hard that week, I will keep him home from school. If my child continues to hoarde toys and retreat with them into a corner, I’ll declare a day of self-play and quiet. If my daughter is overly clingy and fussy, we will have a day of cuddles and cancel appointments that aren’t necessary. However, if I were to add any other adults into any of those situations, my responses to my children have the potential to change. My expectations of my children’s behaviour can be significantly different with an audience and the social expectation for ‘good’ behaviour. Clingy toy hoarders could be embarassing if I have high expectations for self-sufficiency in my own behaviours. I don’t ‘do’ needy. Needy makes me angry (it’s a long story). Suddenly my behaviour towards my children is completely changed. I am impatient, unkind and NOT listening. Suddenly, it’s all about me. In fact, the problem is no longer the problem, it’s my percepton of the problem that is creating all the drama.
I can no longer listen to my child and even if I did I would not hear what they were trying to tell me. My own, inner child is screaming too loudly, awoken by the crack and rumble of my shifting ego. Unfortunately, it is these emotional moments that most parent choose to try and ‘teach’ their children good behaviour. Urging them to share, threatening them with toy confiscation if they cannot, using time outs. Let me ask you parents… do you learn well in stuations of stress? No. You will both fail huge as you are in no emotional state to remain observant and calm, resulting in you shaming your child with your words and actions. The distance between you is created and it grows on every such interaction. Children are so very forgiving, but are only human. We never forget how a person makes us feel.
If you are willing to accept the fact that you yourself are a work in progress, you may just have a chance to create a wonderful human being. To do this, you will need to let go of becoming a perfect parent. You will need to admit to your children that sometimes, “Momma is learning too”! If you yourself cannot communicate open and honestly with your friends and family, why would you be able to teach this skill to a new human being? If you fear change, your children will observe and feel your behaviour. Not a one of us came with an instruction manual. We must all battle with our inner child as we help our own children grow.
So where do we start? Try reading ‘Parenting From The Inside Out’ by Dr. Dan Siegel. LOL, another referral… but this time a book that leads us to answer questions about ourselves and what we bring to the parenting table. More importantly, a resource that focuses on our ability to learn, change and grow in our role as parents. If you are asking your child to do these things, why should you not be practicing the same?