It is difficult to know how to raise your child the “right way." One way we are spoiling, they other we are creating who knows what! When all we want to do is raise healthy happy functioning kids. So we ask our friends what they do, we read, we ask professionals and good old trial and error. In the end, we just do the best we can.
So why do so many of us feel guilt?
Perhaps it’s our painful past experiences we begin to feel, so instead of empathizing we sympathize. We are ashamed, and often feel guilt that we can’t do or give more.
Let’s face it; children have a way of bringing up our inadequacies and limitations
How do parents deal with these feelings?
In Tim Elmore’s book, 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid, Elmore begins with an Overfunctioning Parent Quiz. While I am not a fan of the title, I am a huge fan of the author and his logic.
Going through the quiz, he has set up chapters for each question. It is great to get his point of view when it comes to certain areas where our shortcomings are to see the impact on our children – What are they not learning.
But the area that gets forgotten is WHY do we make these "mistakes". I mean we are smart, thoughtful, loving parents! We are doing the best we can for our children right?!
I whole heartily believe parents are doing the best we can, right now. Which is why I don't believe in mistakes. It's just that things don't turn out the way we meant them to.
Why do parents behave the way they do?
We were born perfect, just like our children and then we started to grow, learning lessons and gaining misperceptions.
• A comment one time meant to protect us from harm turns into a life long fear.
• Listening to a controlling adult teaches us the only way to get things done is by control.
• We begin to fear the unknown, so it must be bad.
• If we don’t agree with someone’s behavior, THEY should be embarrassed.
Not only do we beat ourselves up over these crazy thoughts – we project them onto our children. By not feeling like we “are enough” we try to prove we can do everything for everyone!
My friends and I have a joke about Wonder Woman. We’ve all seemed to have collected something with the logo on it. Mine was a lunchbox given to me on Mother’s Day a few years back.
While I love it and our joke. Teaching our daughters and sons to strive for “Overfunctioning Parent” status with a side of guilt doesn’t help them.
It's never too late to be a perfect parent
We are all products of our beliefs. Asking ourselves, “WHY” do I think that, do that, feel that way? Boiling it down to the moment that belief was created is the best way to challenge it.
Is it still true today?
Most often our beliefs were created in childhood. I’d say it’s about time to challenge them and create new ones. Don't get me wrong, they may be different from everyone else’s, but they will be true for you. Doing this is the best way to stop questioning how you are parenting.
If you closed your eyes and became that perfect child from birth, what would be different?
I believe we are at our best when we live as closely as we can to that vision. For some it is letting go of control, allowing their kids to fail to learn they are capable of surviving a setback. For others, it may be honoring boundaries or teaching their children self-worth by putting themselves first.
Allowing ourselves to grow, allows our children to grow. We do a disservice to everyone if we don’t encourage this to happen.
Whatever steps you take, remember to communicate - you are changing the rules of your family. Everyone will need understanding and patience, but they will catch on.
Where to start?
There are so may angles you can take this from. One of my favorites is the Miracle Question.
Why, because it allows our over active brains to stop, just for a couple of minutes (no big commitment) and get to the heart of what needs to change first. Every time I give this question the answer is always a little surprising.
The change is usually NOT what is on the top of the To Do list, but it is something which will start you on the path to change.