A conscious parent doesn’t look outside the parenting relationship for answers, but is confident the answers can be found for both parent and the child within the parent-child dynamic. For this reason, conscious parenting is learned through the actual experience of relating to our children, not through reading books that offer quick fixes or taking classes that specialize in techniques. – Dr. Shefali
Sometimes we keep looking for something, while the thing we’re looking for is right in front of us. You want to be the best parent you can be for your child. I respect that, and I think that is such a sacred mission that should be supported by all of us. While there are millions of seemingly never-ending parenting tips and advice to be learned, I want to bring your attention to the 3 most important things you can do right away to be a great parent.
You already have all these 3 things within you to be a great parent, and you can do them right away. You can continue to look for all the parenting tips, and it is all well and good, however if you don’t do these 3 things first, you’ll be lacking the solid foundation, and you’ll keep searching for more and more tips all the time yet still feeling like you’re missing something. You take numerous classes and read innumerable books. Conscious Parenting, Peaceful Parenting, Positive Parenting, Gentle Parenting, Mindful Parenting, you name it. It’s all good. Yes, it works. Until it’s not. When you’re stressed or tired or triggered you resort to old behaviours.
So, what are the 3 Things?
1. Decide to be the best parent you can be:
First of all, you must truly decide and want to be the best parent you can be for your child. TRULY, with all your heart, means that you will do whatever it takes to be a great parent, even when sometimes your child doesn’t do what you want him/her to do. For instance, you might want to say “Children should listen to their parents. This is how I was raised, and when I didn’t do as I was told, you’d bet my parents would make me feel sorry after. And look at me now, didn’t I turn out great?!”
I’m sure you have tons of good qualities that you’d want your child to take after you, however if it has to come to forcing your child to do certain things, you might want to rethink and reflect on whether it is a good thing to do so. Be willing to set aside your own ego and be open-minded to consider what’s really good for your child, even though it makes you feel very uncomfortable and awkward.
To help you stand firm in your decision to be a great parent, you can try the following:
- Know your why: Why do you want to be a good parent? Why is it important for you to be a good parent?
- Know what is your standard of a good parent: Strip away all the ego, society expectations and social assumptions, deep down in your heart you have your own idea of how a good parent should be. It is important for you to come to terms with this standard so that you are not in conflict with yourself and that your mindset and all your actions are aligned with your goal of becoming this version of yourself.
- Believe that you already have what it takes to be a great parent, and you are on your way towards this goal: Know that we never stop learning to be a good parent. Nobody’s perfect, and no parent is perfect. We certainly do not and cannot wait until we have all the knowledge and wisdom to start being a good parent. You child needs you to be the parent he/she needs now. You already have what it takes to be a great parent. Believe in yourself. You be the great parent you know now, and as you learn and grow, you will gradually be even better versions of the great parent. Really have faith in yourself now, and do what you can at this time without worrying about being perfect. But, do it with all your heart. Don’t half-ass it. Parenting is one of the toughest yet most fulfilling and meaningful jobs in the world, so treat it with respect and do it seriously (i.e. serious in your spirit of taking up this responsibility, but you can certainly be playful in your parenting as necessary).
2. Control your emotions:
Control your emotions when you’re in conflict on issues relating to your parenting. You must do this, no matter what, no matter who, no matter where, no matter when, no matter why, no matter whatsoever! Especially if your negative emotions are towards your child or in front of your child.
I’ve seen so many parents, myself included, lash out at the child or the partner and say that he/she has the perfect reasons for doing so. Perhaps the child needs to be disciplined for his/her own good. Perhaps the father should be stern and strict. Perhaps the child is so naughty that he/she deserves it. And so on…. It seems that the emotional outburst from the parent is justified. No! Absolutely and definitely not! Even though you think you are right. Even though you think you are doing it for the good of the child. Even though you think you are being a good parent when you do so. No! No! No!
Can you take a moment to feel from the child’s side how he/she would feel when he/she sees the parent losing it with them? Yelling at them? Shouting at them? Sometimes even spanking them or beating them? As a child, it is definitely not healthy emotionally to see the parent behaving like that. It is a form of violence. If not physical violence, it certainly is emotional violence.
As a parent, learn not to give yourself any excuse for treating your child like that. Make a decision and a self-promise to control your emotions with your child at all times. Learn to have the mindset of: “I don’t negotiate with violence in any shape or form!”
Remember, it is always the times of trouble that are testing your patience and your will to be a great parent. During those times, try your absolute best to show your love to your partner and your child. Show them your understanding. Show them your tolerance even. Empathize with them. Be patient with them. But, don’t insist on reasoning with them and debating who’s right and who’s wrong. Keep in mind that this is family. This is a relationship. This is not a business. This is not a court of law. If you think they are so wrong, take your frustrations and your anger elsewhere. Go hit a sandbag or a pillow or something. Don’t pass your own bullshit onto your child or your partner.
3. Know what you child truly needs:
Be the support and guide that your child needs. Key word here is “your child needs”. Not “you need”. Not “you think you need”. Not you think “your society needs you to be”. Let your child have a chance to learn to grow into the unique and beautiful human being he/she is. Don’t discourage your child from trying things. Please do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re the adult and the parent, you know what’s best for your child. Many parents try to choose for their children what they think are best for the children, oftentimes trying to give the children what they did not get themselves when they were children. Some parents even want their children to take on their own unfulfilled dreams, without realizing that their children might have dreams of their own.
Listen to your child more. Spend more time with your child. Observe your child more. You will see the beautiful human being your child is, and the innate wisdom that your child has to choose what he/she wants to experience in this cherished life of his/hers. Learn to respect your child as an authentic person who is unique in his or her own way. Support your child to become the person he/she wants to be, and when your child needs your help, then you guide and help as he/she needs it.
I hope the above 3 suggestions are helpful to you. Parenting is not easy, and sometimes we might feel like we’re drowning in the sea of perpetual struggles to be a good parent. I feel your struggles. When the going gets tough, it could be helpful to take a deep breath and remember these 3 suggestions above. They might just refresh you and help you to feel more empowered and appreciate the joys of being a parent.