For the past few weeks, I’ve been tossing ideas around in my head and jotting down possible topics for my first post of the year. It feels like an important one. After all, January offers us a clean slate, an opportunity to start anew. It begs us to look at ourselves and see where we can grow physically, financially, professionally, or emotionally.
It probably isn’t surprising to any of you that at this time of year I spend a lot of time reflecting on how I can deepen my relationship with my children and become a better parent. I’ve reflected on what I’ve improved at, what I want to get better at and habits I am desperate to change. I will share these with you over the coming months but not today. Although each of these areas is important, they alone will not transform my parenting. And if I may be so bold, I suggest they won't transform yours either.
As parents we tend to become so focused on our children’s behaviour that we fail to see that parenting is really about the parent.
“Every interaction with our children is a reflection of our own relationship with ourselves.” - Dr. Shefali Tsabary
The truth is most of us have childhood wounds that prevent us from parenting the way we strive to despite our best intentions. The upside to this, however, is that being a parent gives us the perfect opportunity to heal those wounds and grow closer to becoming the parent we wish to be.
Looking at our own ‘stuff’ is hard work! It isn’t for the faint of heart. But what better motivation could we have than our children? So how can we begin to heal ourselves and become the kind of parent our children deserve?
I think it begins with parenting consciously. On any given day in the ordinary moments of parenthood, we are presented with countless opportunities to become more aware of our own ‘stuff’. Tuning in to our bodies and paying attention to our physiological responses when we are feeling angry is a good place to start. But it doesn’t stop there.
Becoming a more conscious parent means noticing what triggers us and reflecting on our own experience to understand why. It means learning to press pause when those big emotions begin to take over and deepening our understanding of how those emotions impact our decision-making. It means becoming aware of when we are over-reacting; taking the time we need to calm down so our children don’t look like the enemy. It means learning to soften our voices when we feel like screaming. It means taking responsibility for our own stuff rather than blaming our children. And it means asking for help when we can’t heal past hurts on our own.
No matter how much work we do within ourselves, we still can’t be perfect parents. Perfect parents simply don’t exist. But thankfully our children don’t need perfection to thrive. They need someone who loves and accepts them consciously and unconditionally, just as they are. And coincidently, that’s exactly what we need to give ourselves before we can give it to our children.
Parenting has already taught me more about myself than I ever imagined it could, and with every day I learn more. So this year, I will continue to work toward parenting with greater consciousness. After all, I know parenting has the potential to transform me. Will you allow it to transform you?