How do you feel when your child has a tantrum in public?
— Or cries uncontrollably when you leave them at day care?
— Or suffocates you with clinginess when you’re out and about?
— Or wets their pants constantly when they should be toilet trained?
— Or bosses all the other kids around at the park?
— Or is so shy that they appear to be rude?
I’ve often found myself feeling frustrated… angry… embarrassed… even mortified. There were times I wished the earth would open up & swallow me whole! It was as if my kids were a physical extension of me, & every move they made was a direct reflection of my parenting skills (or lack thereof). It was incredibly self-defeating, not to mention exhausting.
It turns out the word “should” was my problem.
The following is adapted from ‘The Conscious Parent’, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. I hope this extraordinarily powerful, yet simple strategy helps you as much as it did me :-)
Acceptance is key
Accepting our children in their as-is state requires us to surrender our ideas of who they “should” be & instead respond to them as they are.
Acceptance is often considered a passive matter. This is a gross misunderstanding. Acceptance can’t just be an intellectual decision, but must involve our entire heart & mind. Acceptance is anything but passive. It’s a highly active, intensely alive process.
Acceptance of our children can take the form of any of the following:
- I accept my child is different
- I accept my child is quiet
- I accept my child can be stubborn
- I accept my child takes time to warm up to things or people
- I accept my child is friendly
- I accept my child gets upset quickly
- I accept my child likes to please people
- I accept my child resists change
- I accept my child is fearful of new people
- I accept my child can misbehave
- I accept my child is moody
- I accept my child is gentle
- I accept my child is timid
- I accept my child is shy
- I accept my child is bossy
- I accept my child is defiant
- I accept my child is a follower
- I accept my child is temperamental
- I accept my child is below the curve in academics
- I accept my child isn’t as driven or motivated as most
- I accept my child often lies when under pressure
- I accept my child can be too dramatic
- I accept my child finds it hard to sit still
- I accept my child has their own way of being in the world
- I accept my child is their own unique person
- I accept that to thrive, my child needs firm boundaries.
Our ability to accept our children is directly linked to our ability to accept ourselves – both as we are presently, & for what we have the potential to become.
It may be helpful for me to share with you some of the areas in which I am learning to accept myself:
- I accept I am a human being before I am a parent
- I accept I have limitations and many shortcomings, and this is okay
- I accept I frequently lose my centre worse than my children ever do
- I accept I can be selfish and unthinking in my dealings with my children
- I accept I sometimes fumble and stumble as a parent
- I accept I don’t always know how to respond to my children
- I accept that at times I say and do the wrong thing with my children
- I accept that at times I’m too tired to be sane
- I accept that at times I’m too preoccupied to be present for my children
- I accept my imperfections and my imperfect life
- I accept my desire for power and control
- I accept I am trying my best, and that this is good enough
When we mould our children to meet our expectations, we resist who they are, which is to sow the seeds of dysfunction. In contrast, to accept our children for who they are at any given moment brings a feeling of release & inner spaciousness. No longer defining ourselves by our need for control, we enter into kinship with our children.
I’d love to know what’s going on for you so that I can create content to help.
Q: What’s your biggest parenting struggle right now?
Let me know in the comments below, or flick me an email :-)