We’re imperfect parents, but we so want to get it right. Am I providing enough security? Am I being consistent? Will he absorb my disappointment in myself? Will he absorb my anxiety? Am I telling her enough of what she needs to hear? Will she be self-conscious like me?
We try to be conscious parents. We want to do it better than our parents did . . . because we know more than they did and our little ones deserve the benefit of all that knowledge.
But this unrelenting conscious attention to our parenting can block our awareness to the beauty right here. It robs us of the gentle moment where we could share a laugh or notice the uniqueness of our child. Constant anxiety about our parenting also prevents us developing ourselves as autonomous adults, something our kids need us to do . . . so they can be free to do the same.
What I want to offer today is what I am literally learning, right now. Self Care is our most powerful parenting tool, and yet it’s the thing that seems most irrelevant. You want me to sit in the hot tub while my daughter fails chemistry? Yes. I want you to relax. Do whatever you need to do to slow down thought and be in touch with your body – for 15-20 minutes. Here are some thoughts to help you embrace your imperfect parent self.
Relax and . . .
- Know you’re a good-enough parent.
- Know you’ve got a good-enough kid.
- Take good care of yourself. Your kid needs you to be healthy and happy.
- Do what brings you joy. This will show your kid how to do the same.
- Let your child push against you. It’s his job to resist, disagree with you, think you’re full of crap. Breathe and let it go.
- Let your child hear you laugh, a lot. Let them see you cry. Allow them to see your humanness.
- Find good attributes in your spouse or co-parent. Your kid needs to know the positive you see (or saw) there.
- Let your kid fail, screw up, and experience disappointment. It’s painful but essential to her sense of self.
- Know your child has his own path and own inner compass. You have no ultimate control . . . nor should you. If you try to exert false control of their personality and choices, you can really make a mess of things and restrict growth in both of you.
- Trust that your kid loves you. They have to love you. They will always love you, even if they don’t like you.