Some advice or ideas about parenting are overly complicated, or sound great in theory but we can’t figure out how to transform the words that inspire us into our daily interactions with our child.
As parents we tend to place huge expectations on ourselves. We want to ‘get it right’, be all things to our children and pile our plate high. We say yes, to doing this, going here, making this, perfecting that, and then the yeses lose their joy. We’re investing energy we don’t have into things we feel obliged or pressured to do. We may not even want to do something but are more afraid of not doing it. We evaluate yes with caring, and no with being ‘lazy’ or uncaring. But it’s just not true. We need to drop this story we carry around no, and allow ourselves to make our plates more manageable (and palatable).
I am in a sort of limbo at present, awaiting the arrival of my second baby. I am restless, impatient even, wishing him to come, and thinking everyday - will today be it? It is so hard to stay in the present moment with such anticipation, and I know that in feeling this way I'm missing many little moments, sacrificing them for want of something bigger.
It is easy to think that any and all time spent with our children counts as together time. We are physically with them after all. However, we can be in the same space as our children and not actually be with them. Our mind could be wandering miles away, our backs turned, or be totally engaged in our own activity and totally unaware of theirs. This is reality of course, and fine, and understandable, but we have to see this time for what it is. And not mistake it for real together time, the ‘tank filling’ sort.
The relationship we have with our child depends on the connection we have. Consciously choosing more times of connection means we make this a priority in our lives. We may need to put guidelines in place for ourselves – turning off cellphones at specific times, changing the time of day we prep dinner, making important phone calls only after some invested presence.
How often do you hear children being asked to use their words? It can be a problematic request as high emotions and limited vocab make this a real challenge for children. Perhaps we are better to look at taking our own advice, and look at how using our words could help us in our parenting journey.
“Use your words”. How often do we hear that being told to children? Very young children especially? It has become almost a mindless phrase that gets thrown out, with the expectation that our wee ones know what it means, can grasp what is asked of them, and run with it.
As we get older, the whole notion of wishes often gets put in the ‘hog wash’ pile. We sort desires into the can, and can't possibly happen, categories, and talk more about facing reality. “You wish”, becomes a scoffing term when someone touts dreams we deem unlikely.
We are parents and… Parenting is a beautiful role we carry out but it is not all we are.
We have to be parents and... The 'and' is what keeps us balanced and whole. It is what keeps us from obsessing too strongly about what we are or aren't doing for our children.
As teachers we are often asked by our wonderful parents what they can do to help their children develop and learn, or 'prepare for school'. Our advice? The very best thing you can do for your children is offer them love and offer them life.