What do you want for your kids?
Think of right here, right now, what do you want for your kids? Do you want them to have lots of friends? To play sports? To get good grades? To be liked by teachers?
Looking further down the road, what do you want for your kids when they’re your age? What do you want their marriage to be like? What do you want their work experience to be like? How do you envision them spending their weekends? What do you want for them regarding their health? How do you want them to feel when they go to bed on Sunday nights? How do you want them to be taking care of their body? Sleeping? Drinking? Eating?
There are two ways looking at your answers to the above that will improve both your parenting and your experience here on earth. First through examining why you want what you want for your kids, you get to look at where your desires and messages come from? Second, by bringing mindfulness and consciousness into how you are currently living your life, you can look at how you are or aren’t in alignment with those desires.
Let’s dive in to the first part. Why do you want these things for your kids in their lives right now? Why do you want your kids to have lots of friends? Or, why do you want your kids to play (or not to play) on sports teams? Going back to my blog from last week, yes, your intentions are good. You think that in having those things, they will be better off in some way. Your wishes come from love and good intentions. I get that and… urge you to dig a bit deeper. Why do you want your kid to play sports or be more social? In order to best answer that, look at your experiences as a kid layered with what makes you happy now. If you have lots of friends and that makes you happy, you may not understand why your introvert daughter doesn’t feel the need to have more friends. Or, if you always felt left out of peer groups when you were younger, you will be super sensitive if you think your child is being left out of social situations now. The key is to separate your experience here on earth with your child’s experience here on earth. Check in with your child. She is not a mini-you. Her experience is not your own. Do you wish he’d talk more to his teachers? Do you wish she’d show more interest in school work? Do you wish he’d run for student government? Do you wish she’d try out for a school team? In order to parent consciously, you get to look at your experience with all of that. My desires for my kids (and my fears for my kids) come directly from my past experiences – either lived or avoided. When I can see that, I am better equipped to parent them from a place of calm. Why? Because I can see where my issues are clouding my perception of their issues. Yes this is hard and uncomfortable. The beauty is the pay off is hugely wonderful. Not only do I get a more connected relationship with my child, when I look at their experience without letting my past experiences cloud it, I often discover they have no problem. They’re doing just fine. They may struggle with one thing or another but that’s part of life and they can handle it. My job as a parent is to support and love them. Not to make them into the me I always wished I had been. Click To Tweet
Now think of your child at your age and what you desire for them.
How close are you living in alignment with what you want your kids to have or be when they’re your age? We often get frustrated with ourselves and how our lives our currently playing out and pass that off to our kids. If we feel stuck or out of control in some area of our life (your marriage? your eating? your weight?), we turn to micro-manage our children in that area. Our intentions are pure but our actions are harmful. We think, either consciously or unconsciously, I will tell them what to do, or control how they’re eating/acting, so they don’t have my problem when they’re older. Interesting thing is, our kids learn from watching us, not listening to us. Instead of telling them what to do, we need to do it. We need to be the person we want our child to be. How do you want your child to spend his or her days? How are you spending your days? What do you want your child’s relationship with technology to be? How are you modeling that relationship yourself? How do you want your child’s romantic relationship to be? How do you want him or her to feel in connection with her spouse or partner? What is your marriage or romantic relationship like? What do you want your child’s relationship with her body to be like? How do you speak of your body? How do you show her that you care for your body? How close do you want her to be with her friends? How do you want her to speak of her friends when they’re not around? How do you speak of your friends when you get home from a book club or GNO? How much do you want her influenced by social media? How much are you influenced by social media?
Let’s stop talking and start doing. As you become aware of how you have been parenting in a way to avoid looking at your own habits or behaviors, you may be tempted to beat yourself up or be critical of your or your partner. Please don’t. This is a waste of time and doesn’t move you forward. You didn’t know you were doing this so you couldn’t change. Now that you know better, do better. Instead of spending time and energy beating yourself, think of how you can live and learn. How about, instead of reacting to your child’s poor grade or pushing them to invite a friend over that they don’t want to spend time with, stop to see how your past and your current issues are impacting your present parenting.
The purpose of parenting is for us to grow into our best selves. Our children learn by watching what we do. They are a mirror for us, showing us what they see, who we are. They provide a reflection of how we effect the world, what our impact is, and what we are inviting in. I encourage you to see parenting as an opportunity more than a crushing responsibility. In learning more about yourself, your triggers, your enjoyments, your approach to the world, you get to best support your child on his or her journey.
When I think of my goals to my kids, it helps for me to think of their feelings not the external results of their actions in the world. How do I want my son to feel around his friends? How do I want him to feel at home? How do I want him to think about himself? How do I want my relationship to be with my kids? Do I want them to feel safe sharing their mistakes with me? In the next couple of weeks I’ll touch on how we can provide a safe place for our kids to feel their strong emotions, how we can discipline our kids without needing to be disciplined ourselves, and how we can do all this through a journey of self-growth and understanding.
Who do you want your child to become?
You get to become that person.
Let’s go warriors. It’s time to let go of trying to control other people, including our kids. We get to control ourselves and our actions. Let’s grow up.