I am a parent, and I work with parents, and I run a Facebook group of almost 1000 parents all over the world, so I hear-and have-a lot of conversation with mums and dads.
And at the heart of so many of them is this; Am I parenting right? I feel so guilty about X,Y,Z…
Should I be doing something differently?
Sometimes these questions and feelings are fed by other people; what grandparents, our spouse, maybe even a teacher thinks can make us question our choices, or feel very defensive of them (especially if you’re in the ‘gentle’ or ‘peaceful parenting’ camp)
Other times self-doubt is all about us…
Often, I don’t parent the way I’d like; my brain knows that shouting etc., is totally unhelpful but, holy moly, I just need to let the steam out anyway! Who doesn’t sometimes?
But other times I make the choices I do because I know it’s good for my son’s brain development. I’m confident that my approach serves his emotional state in that moment.
Not everyone involved in raising your child will agree with all your parenting decisions… I’ve been told I baby mine too much and I don’t care.
If someone else thinks giving a kid who needs an extra bit of TLC an extra bit of TLC will make him a ‘mummy’s boy’, it’s only needs to be a problem if I decide it is.
However, I don’t follow a particular philosophy, such as ‘gentle’ or ‘unconditional’ parenting, either.
IMO, a ‘right way’ to parent means there is an inevitable ‘wrong’ way too, and raising humans is just not that simple.
I’ve also heard from too many parents who end up loaded with guilt on guilt, because they can’t be ‘gentle’, or ‘peaceful’ or ‘unconditional’ all the time.
It’s not to say we shouldn’t try. I believe in all of those philosophies completely, but just not at the expense of even more ‘I should be more like this, or less like that’.
Many of our inner-struggles around parenting are there because we were brought up on very different parenting styles than the ones we want to raise our own kids with. That’s what sells a lot of parenting books.
There are so many different ways to get parenting both right and wrong, sometimes doing what feels right and hoping for the best is the only option, isn’t it?
It’s less about parenting books and more about simply recognising the lies we’ve been conditioned to believe – or at least question – about ‘the right way to parent’ that end up with us second guessing ourselves, feeling judged or prickly about why we parent the way we do.
IMO, here’s more accurate perspective on three of the big parenting myths around;
LIE; Children need to know how to behave
TRUTH; All behaviour is a form of communication…
All ‘bad’ behaviour is an expression of an unmet need. When we recognise that that’s the problem – not the behaviour – we can stay more grounded (and compassionate) and just focus on meeting that need.
Because then- and only then – can you help the child change their behaviour.
LIE; You’re the adult and your child should do as you say
TRUTH; Nobody wins a power-struggle
None of us don’t want to be an overbearing parent but let’s be honest; sometimes our big, adult ego just gets in the way. We don’t want to have our authority undermined.
But ‘being in charge’ isn’t like a remote control, where only one person has the power.
Children don’t want your power, they want their own. Power can be shared.
LIE; Children need to think about what they’ve done wrong
TRUTH; You can’t make a child do better by making them feel worse
The ugly truth is most of us ourselves were raised on this, and it can take a lot of self-awareness to step out of this dynamic, especially in a moment of unhappiness with your child.
While it’s not realistic – or honest – for us to always be on our best behaviour, equally, we all know our kids are often a pretty accurate mirror of their grown-ups. Be what you want to see.
We don’t always have to make changes to ‘the way we parent’, but when you’re being pulled in different directions, simply hold these truths in mind. That can change enough… 💓