I believe that parenting involves deep work.
In fact it’s great opportunity for personal growth.
One reason that parenting involves deep work is this:
Children are “inconvenient”. The way they behave sometimes simply doesn’t marry easily with an adult lifestyle. They can be loud, anarchic, messy and boisterous.
So, understandably, we parents want to know the answer to the question:
“What do I do?”
The thing is, and this is where the deep work starts, “What do I do?” isn’t the right question…
I know, I know.
Maybe you read my blogs because I share lots of tools and strategies that give you ideas about what to do to improve things.
But, fundamentally, creating your happy family is not about doing. It’s about being.
So, what’s the difference?
The difference is that doing is about ‘fixing’ the behaviour.
The classic example is a reward chart. You get your reward chart, you put it on the fridge, you tell your child that if they sit on the potty, or get this mark in school, or do this kind thing for their sister, they’ll get a star.
The attraction is that it’s easy and it’s doable. And I have nothing against things that are easy – far from it. But the trouble with this approach is that:
- it’s a cheap bribe, which skews your relationship with your child.
- children quickly catch on to it and want to see what else they can get out of this arrangement.
- it doesn’t work for long. Usually we have to change it up to keep it interesting for the children.
With being it’s quite different. It’s actually not about fixing the behaviour at all.
It’s about us, it’s about the way we are in ourselves, and the way we interact with our children. It’s about the way we think about them and the way we structure our lives. It’s about the how, and not so much about the what.
So what does this look like?
#1 – Being AVAILABLE for connection
I think primarily, and most importantly, positive parenting is about being available for connecting with our children: being present, open and compassionate, being able to see their take on things and to genuinely empathise.
When we are available, the whole situation changes to the extent that the question “What do I do?” falls away. It’s no longer relevant.
A whole different situation has arisen because you’re connected with your child.
#2 – Being AWARE of the conditions your child needs to do well
This is about knowing that your excitable three-year-old is not going to do well if you take them to the fairground. They’re going to be overstimulated and their behaviour will probably deteriorate.
It means being aware that your child might not yet be ready to sit in a restaurant.
It means reflecting that, if your child tends to hit other children, maybe it’s time to take a break from situations where that happens. Just don’t go for a while.
#3 – Being ADAPTABLE to the inconveniences of having children
Having children is inconvenient, and it helps when we’re aware of that.
For example, a couple that I worked with who had five-year-old twins, realised that they had been putting a lot of effort into trying to get the boys to quieten down. But then they realised that the noise wasn’t in fact the problem.
They realised it was up to them to be more flexible about it. They got themselves some noise-cancelling headphones and the boys could make the noise of childhood. Everything became much more peaceful at home. They were no longer fighting a battle that they didn’t need to fight.
The reason I call this deep work is because these things involve work on ourselves:
- Being available for connection asks of us to be fully present – not so easy in this age of distraction.
- Being aware of what your child needs in order to do well involves training ourselves to think differently.
- Adapting to the inconveniences of having kids around involves developing resilience.
All this requires us to embrace self-care, and self-love, so that we’re well enough resourced to do this deep work of parenting with presence and positivity.
And the wonderful thing is that, by doing this deep work, not only do you see your children thrive, you become a strong, resilient person who is able to be flexible and ride the ups and downs of life gracefully.
If you’d like to get started with being available, being aware, being adaptable, here’s something that will help: my FREE audio meditation, Reset Your Relationship with Your Child.
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