By Sylvia Puentes
How many times have you wondered how to have less of a struggle when it comes to parenting? What if you could be at ease with your children, no matter what’s going on?
As parents we often spend so much time judging ourselves, analysing every choice we make, seeing where we’ve got things “wrong” and constantly trying to change so that we might become the “perfect” parent.
It seems counterintuitive, but what if you began to search for what’s right about you as a parent? Have you acknowledged everything you’re already doing that works for you and your family? What if you stopped judging yourself?
Here are my tips to help parents avoid self-judgement and striving for perfection, and parenting with ease and enjoyment and without the fight.
When you judge the people in your life, from your partner, to your children, or even the people you work with, you stop seeing them as valuable. If you have gratitude for them instead, you begin to see their value in ways you didn’t recognise before.
What if, even in challenging moments, you increased your gratitude for your children? It’s impossible to be grateful and angry or upset at the same time. With more gratitude, you create more space to respond differently. Showing gratitude towards the people in your life not only alleviates the compulsion to fight; it also generates an atmosphere of more ease and enjoyment for everyone.
Invite more intimacy
Gratitude is considered to be one of the five elements of intimacy. The other four are honour, trust, allowance, and vulnerability. What if you could have all of these with your children?
These elements aren’t always what we think they are. Allowance isn’t about granting your children permission for anything and everything, but rather allowing them to be and explore who they are without judgment. Deciding and defining who or what your children should be also prevents you from truly honouring them.
Vulnerability is about being present when anything shows up for you or your child without worrying if you’re getting it right or wrong. It’s actually a tremendous strength to acknowledge anything that’s happening for you, whether it is a difficult situation or a tender moment. Your children will trust you more when they can experience you without any barrier, and it will teach them by example the power of vulnerability and all of the elements of intimacy.
So often we react to what we assume is an issue, blinded by our filters and prejudgements of ourselves or our child. Asking questions, whether aloud or simply to yourself, can assist in getting better clarity on what exactly is going on. When we ask a question, one that isn’t based on judgment or assumption, we gain awareness of a situation and what we can choose to do with it.
One question that’s particularly useful in intense moments is, “What’s right about this that I’m not getting?” Rather than going straight to a problem, look at the ways you can turn it into a positive, a teaching moment or a means to learn and grow. This stops you from jumping to judgement or giving up, and opens you up to the different choices you have available to you.
What if you began to ask for what you know would work with your children and family? What if you trusted yourself more and tapped into what you know, rather than constantly turning to experts, family members and friends?
This requires a trust of yourself and your awareness. What is it that works for your family that’s different from what anyone else might be doing? It may be totally outside the box. Trust what you know. While seeking advice from others can be helpful, remember that at the end of the day it’s your family.
Do you have the five elements of intimacy with yourself? What if you trusted and honoured yourself? What if you were grateful for you, had total allowance for you, and were vulnerable with yourself? What would this create for your family?
You can’t truly have ease and enjoyment with your family without including yourself in the process. What could you add to your life that would bring you more joy?
Including you does not mean you exclude anyone else. It actually creates more space for everyone.
Be willing to out-manipulate
As much as we love our children, we have to be clever and out-manipulate them. Manipulation isn’t an unkindness; it’s just a tool for creating a different possibility.
Children are savvy and get to know your special buttons to get what they want. What can you say, be, or do to out create their manipulation? Are you clear on what you truly would like to create with your child?
Parenting doesn’t have to be a struggle. What if it could be easier than you ever considered? Practice these tips and see what shows up!