Unfortunately, the parenting journey is full of opportunities to make mistakes and to feel like you are making a mess out of your kids, in my experience parenting takes guts, street smarts, a resilient heart and a warped sense of humour every day.
Many times, I have felt groundless- ‘What do I do now?’ has been a familiar inner mantra!
It’s often difficult to see your own situation clearly and after seeing many parents and teens over the years, I have had lots of opportunity to really practice what I preach.
The first integral practice has been to look after myself- to take time out, loosen up and get a different perspective. I can get wound up and demanding and this doesn’t help anyone and actually antagonises the whole situation, so rather than turn into a stressed out yelling woman I am choosing to go for a walk, see my horses, meditate or do yoga. This time helps me to regain my perspective and remember what is important, it also means that my kids can calm down and think things through.
The second one is to remember my role as the parent- sounds silly I know, however, when faced with a pre-teen who knows everything sometimes I forget and get lost and end up feeling wrong for setting boundaries and consequences. I need to remind myself that I am setting boundaries to help and support them, not to hurt, trigger (my son’s words) or control them.
The third one is learning more tough love- with everyone, I realise that I am a rescuer, I am good at seeing what needs to be done and getting in to do it. This is not a good way to be around kids that are capable of doing things for themselves. I have to learn to let go, to let them learn how to do things for themselves and also to let them feel the consequences of not doing those things.
The fourth one is trust- to trust that they are good kids and that they will make the right decisions for themselves. To remember that they have lived with values and morals and that they know what is right from wrong. I need to trust that they are capable of making good decisions for themselves and their future. This is tricky territory as I want to provide guidance and this is very difficult through a child or teen’s resistance.
In therapy, we are taught to honour the resistance, to be curious about what the resistant person needs and why they feel they need to resist. In the face of resistance, I am reminded of my parents and how much my brothers and I resisted them. My Dad would hold firm against the resistance which was good for some of my siblings and not for others. It is so difficult because as parents we do have age and wisdom on our side, we don’t want our kids to make the same mistakes or have the pain that we had. This leads to my next point.
The fifth one is detachment- this one has been interesting, detaching from the resistance, meltdowns and difficult behaviours that can occur for any child at any age. Remembering that my children are different to me; they are having their own life experiences and are learning and growing as they go. It has also meant remaining clear on what needs to happen so that we can live- eat, dress, wash, learn and socialise. As humans, these are the basic fundamental things that need to be done every day!
The sixth one is to be gentle on myself, to remember that I am doing the best I can each day as are each of the members of my family and to focus on the good things rather than the imperfections and flaws. To allow moments of just hanging out and to take the pressure of myself and my family- to give each of us permission to be our whole selves- messy and all!
How do you support yourself along your parenting journey? What daily practices have you developed to help keep you sane and to encourage connection and belonging for your family members?