This is true in all areas of our life, the need and importance to be true to ourselves, and this is absolutely true in parenting as well. How often do we parent from a place of the expectations others place on us, what they think we should or shouldn’t do, vs doing what we want, or know to do, based on the truth within us and who our child inherently is?
I’ll give you a live example from a mom I worked with previously. And mind you, while I am giving this one particular example, this challenge is present, in one way shape or form, in MOST of the parents I work with. Parenting from external pressures, be it due to the vast amount of information out there inundating us daily, the comparison disorder so many of us parents suffer from and the perceived or (if we’re going to be honest) real judgment we receive from other parents/people around us.
This mom, I’ll call her Donna, and I were finishing up our 4th session together, when I noticed Donna had mentioned, on several occasions, her concern around someone “seeing” her child’s challenging behaviors and “seeing” the way in which she was parenting her child during such times. She even worried about what people would “think” when she was disciplining/parenting in the privacy of her own home. I pointed out to Donna that she seemed to be pretty concerned with what other people thought and I asked her if she could tell me what she was most worried about, as far as people “seeing” her and her child. What came out, ultimately, was she worried she wasn’t a good mom. She also feared the judgement of these people around her, mostly strangers, and the kind of mom they thought she was. This admission led to a conversation about what would happen if she didn’t worry about what people were thinking? What would that feel like and how would that change her reaction(s)/response to her child and the situation at hand?
It was something she, honestly, hadn’t thought of before.
This questioning led to her to begin to understand that she truly knows her child better than anyone else does, because SHE is their mother. Strangers, or even good friends and family, do not know her child like she does. I challenged her, the next time she found herself in a difficult situation with her child, instead of worrying what others thought or were thinking and looking there, to focus her eyes on her child only, in that moment, see what happens and how it changed the way she approached and responded to the situation at hand.
Donna was really encouraged by the idea of putting aside all the “eyes” she worried were watching her, focusing on her child and helping them through the difficult time they were having. Being able to parent from this place of what is true to yourself, what is true for your child and not what others expect of you, is an absolute game changer, both for you as a parent AND for your child(ren). It allows you to be and trust yourself meeting your child where they are at and the situation at hand in that present moment.
What about you? Would this mindset change the way you parent? How?
~Do you struggle with managing the expectations of others, whether they be perceived or real?
~How can you begin to tap into what’s true and real for you, and your child, and parent from there?
~And, how would that change things and your relationship with your child?