Guest Article from Amelia Andrawes at http://www.coachingcurve.com.au/
You don’t need me to tell you just how tough parenting is. BUT, do you know how much harder you’re possibly making it with the traps all parents can face? It’s about having a scarcity, not abundance, mindset! What do I mean? Well, when you tell yourself, “I want the very best for my child! I’ll do whatever it takes”… have you paid close attention to what happens next in you? Are you peaceful that there are plenty of resources, connection, and good health to go around? Or, are you stressed out that you need to push harder to give your kids the best outcome? If so, the good news is you can cut out a large portion of your strain by avoiding these traps:
Trap 1 – Kid’s Success As Your Own
Firstly, there’s so much pressure on parents and differing opinions on best practices for raising kids. But, no two people (including littlies) have the exact same values or priorities. Listening to your intuition is a great weapon, but throw in sleep deprivation and the lack of a solid support system, and that one thought of not being enough sends you spiraling. The shame and guilt I’ve witnessed and experienced myself at times is intense and saddening.
Most people genuinely want the best for their kids and there’s a lot to figure out on the run! But why is there such fear of external judgement? Ultimately, do you believe you are enough and lovable? And if not, do you think you’ll be validated by your kids being smarter, great at something, most popular, etc.? If your answers seem icky, don’t fear or feel bad. It’s actually human nature to think this way, but mindfulness is your way out of the trap. Put yourself in your kid’s shoes: Do you like pressure and expectations being put on you?
Trap 2 – Not Reading Kid’s Signs
Living through your kids can be subtle such as feeling relief that they’re popular because you were bullied, OR in your face like toddler beauty pageants because mamma couldn’t let go. There can be hidden hope that your littlies will be the best version of you, but it’s unfair to put that pressure on our kids who are keen to leave their own footprint on the earth. Instead, work on widening your own footprint by becoming great at something, making new friends, or taking up that hobby you’ve put on the back burner?
You’ve witnessed your littlies discovering and learning what they’re interested in. Slow down and listen to what they’re telling and showing you. Perhaps it isn’t your jam. It’s OK to be a bit bummed or challenged by that, but it’s important that you can see growth opportunity for you in helping your kid cultivate their interests. Plus, you can ring in help if it’s way out of your element. On the other end, if you’ve got your little one on a sport or instrument they’re not interested in, can you let go without making them wrong?
Trap 3 – Taking Your Role Too Seriously
Finally, one of the most important and fun things you can do is connect with your own inner child. What brings him or her joy? This helps you remember what it was like for you and find another level to connect with your kids. It also provides more space to have open and honest conversations. You can apologize for putting pressure on them when you catch yourself out, and say you love them regardless of what they achieve or don’t.
You can always work to repair your relationship by connecting heart to heart. Plus, playfulness is a great ingredient in parenting. What did your 5, 10 and 15 year old self love doing? What was she scared of? Did he love art? What did she get angry about? What made him squeal with laughter? What brought her the greatest comfort when she was sad?
It’s easy to get caught up in the shoulds of your role and your child’s progress, and it’s tempting to compare to others, but this often leads to feeling worse. If you remember your most important values of connection, love, safety, and joy, you can free yourself of the competition trap. Bringing more awareness to your internal tug of war can help you choose your values over and over. Finally, remember you are not your thoughts, and you have the power to steer your family’s ship in the direction that’s right for you all. You’ve got this!
Photo via Unsplash