As I write this, I’m reflecting on all the times I have made a mistake as a parent. Whew! This realization can me quite humbling.
Now, to be completely honest, I could not possibly remember each time that I have made a parenting mistake. Or any mistake for that matter. As I have probably made about a gazillion mistakes in my lifetime, and certainly many of them during last 13-ish years as a parent. But, I’m totally okay with that since I have learned from them.
Lessons learned by experience are LONG LASTING and VALUABLE.
One biggie that I’ve learned is, it is okay to not be the “PERFECT” parent. Really, is there such a thing anyway?
Mention of this reminds me of Brene Brown’s (I LOVE her work!) beautiful book, “The Gift of Imperfection”. Her message is a life changer for so many, myself included. All of her books and talks are incredible.
Being the “best” parent that YOU can be is what truly matters.
At the time of this writing, I have not yet met a “perfect” parent. I don’t expect that I ever will either. It’s just not a realistic expectation. What is a realistic expectation however, is that we do what works best for us, while honoring the uniqueness and individuality in our own selves and our own family.
Being the absolute “best” parent that you can be is SO MUCH more rewarding, attainable and worthwhile.
I have met many AMAZING parents over the years though.
With these parents, I’ve noticed that they all incorporate…
… into their own parenting styles in their own, unique ways.
Also, these parents all seem to give themselves, and the ones that they love, permission to make mistakes.
It’s important to mention that the topic of parenting sometimes lends itself to strong opinions.
Getting past the point of letting other people’s opinions drive our decisions can feel so EMPOWERING. It allows us to relax and actually be able to enjoy our kiddos and the experiences that life has to offer. This effort is totally worth it. Freeing our hearts and opening our minds enables us to access a beautiful space that holds the SELF-LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, and HAPPINESS that we crave.
As a therapist specializing in Child Parent Relationship Therapy, I teach parents to “Focus on the Donut, Not the Hole”.
I interpret this to mean, focus your energy on the good stuff, not on what’s going wrong. Sure, we need to address things that go wrong, but it’s not helpful to fall into the perpetual pit of doom that focusing on weaknesses can bring. Things get so much tougher when we dwell on the negative. I have seen such healing, growth and improvements in people’s life with this one realization. This is not my idea however, as it is part of the therapeutic protocol outlined in CPRT Package: Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual: A 10-Session Filial Therapy Model for Training Parents, by Bratton S., Landreth, G, Kellam, T., and Blackard, S.
Their “FOCUS ON THE DONUT, NOT THE HOLE” concept is only part of this incredibly effective type of relationship based therapy. The other tenents of their book and manual are brilliant as well!
If you are searching for:
- deeper relationships with your children
- more effective ways to nurture good character
- simple methods to foster self esteem and courage to take chances
…this type of therapy is recommended. Good stuff!
In regard to tough situations that life can offer, I invite you to “Focus on the Donut” on a personal level as well.
Noticing what you are doing “right” can make tough situations much easier by fostering feelings of adequacy, self–worth, and capability.
Give yourself permission to be human and make mistakes, with the INTENTION of learning from them and ultimately doing better the next time is good stuff.
The word “intention” means to do something on purpose. Parenting “on purpose” can leave us feeling empowered and in control.
Maya Angelou’s brilliant words “when we know better, we do better” apply here, for sure. So, education is key to making informed decisions on purpose.
I love, Love, LOVE learning from experts in the field on topics such as neuroscience, child development, behavioral strategies and interventions, etc.… Through this I attain much greater amounts of insight and accurate information.
I remember when my first child was born, I was quickly realized that other, often well-meaning parents can express strong opinions based on the big issues. Whoa… This caught me off guard a bit. It took me a while to realize that I had a choice in those types of situations. When I finally realized that, I felt like I could breathe again and enjoy being a parent.
The fact of the matter is, we can choose to perceive these types of comments as judgmental, mini aggressions. (This choice can be emotionally draining for sure!)
Or, we can CHOOSE to take away the information that I can use and leave the rest.
It is our CHOICE. It is nice to have a choice, right?
I think we have all experienced it at one time or another–The dreaded “No, you should _____________ instead. You’re doing it wrong.”
Sometimes, words from others can sometimes sound judgmental and sting, leaving us feeling paralyzed, inadequate, and unable to function at our personal best.
Issues such as:
- To breast-feed or not…
- To stay at home with my child more to be a parent working outside of the home…
- To use a pacifier or not..
- To soothe my child to sleep or not…
- Date nights or not…
- Medicate or not..
- Private, homeschool, or public school…
… can keep parents up at night, wondering “Am I doing the right thing?”.
It can feel OVERWHELMING!
For the most part, people mean well… giving their words of advice that they believe to be helpful can be an act of kindness for sure. Many times their advice is just what we need. But, sometimes it isn’t.
Sometimes, advice from others can leave us feeling torn and confused. Especially, when it isn’t aligned with OUR VALUES, STYLE, and DESIRES for our families.
The key to gaining helpful parent knowledge in these situations is to take what information applies and leave the rest.
I’m a huge fan of gathering as much information as possible. Making informed decisions is a biggie for me. I continuously gather information from books, blogs, podcast, conferences, and more… As these sources can be just what I need.
I take what I need and leave the rest.
To be clear, I certainly have my ideas on what works and what doesn’t for MY family. Who doesn’t, right? I am super aware though that they are just that… MY ideas.
In my work as a Registered Play Therapist, Educator, and a Parent Coach, I have learned the immense value of truly listening to parents for the purpose of accurately identifying what is working and what is not, as well as accurately identifying what is at the root of the concerns. This approach enables me to provide information that they can wrap around THEIR VALUES, and build on from then on.
Information is SO valuable. In my personal and professional life, I steer clear of the “You shoulds…” every chance that I get.
Recently, I heard the saying “Don’t Should’ve on Yourself!”. It made me chuckle and raise my eyebrow, as it is such a valuable reminder of how “should’s” can certainly be the thief of our parenting joy.
It is important to know, that a “one size fits all” parenting style simply does not exist.
It’s like trying to FIT INTO SOMEONE ELSE’S SKINNY JEANS! Sometimes they just don’t fit… With enough effort, we may be able to get them on and button them up, but sometimes they just don’t fit. And, they can leave us feeling uncomfortable, leaving us unable to relax and enjoy life…enough said!
What works for me, may not work for you… and, what works for you may not work for your best friend’s cousin…
“Intentionality” is the vital. Plain and simple.
Being clear on YOUR:
…is absolutely essential.
A lack of clarity in these areas can leave you feeling exhausted…like you are running around in circles, expending your precious energy on what OTHERS think you should do, and sometimes swimming in a tumultuous river of PARENT GUILT.
Subscribe to “Parenting in the Rain” podcast and blog, if you haven’t already. Lots of great information to come!
We are on this journey together.
In the meantime, breathe easy, give yourself permission to be human – to be imperfect, and love with your whole heart. And remember, squeezing into someone else’s skinny jeans isn’t always the best idea. =)