Every family is its own story, what role do you play in yours?

Let’s put it simply. SO MUCH HAPPENS when we become parents. We are handed this new job called ‘Responsibility on Every Level’ with no training wheels. We all used to be children, so shouldn’t we know what to do? It is our job to keep our kids alive, stimulate them in all the right ways to become healthy, happy, joyful adults like us. But are we…joyful parents?

All good teachers practice what they teach. So parents as teachers should live as joyfully, healthily, stress free, and well nourished as we demand for our kids. Parents tend to move all of their ‘self-love’ to child-care love and forget about themselves. Here are 4 ways to clear the way for more honest and joyful parenting:

Get Real

All new parents are faking it till they make it in this new career. They read parenting books on the right foods, the best sleep solution, and secure attachment. At social gatherings, it is the new parent’s job to talk about all the untried knowledge as if they are competent employees. This dynamic goes on far beyond infancy. Many parents are silently struggling and don’t know how open up.

Getting real means having and expressing feelings. Admitting that you don’t know which choice to make, asking others for advice, and letting go of the idea that we should be walking text books on a topic that is new. Getting real is allowing the vulnerabilities to be stepping stones towards wisdom. When someone shares the real story, for example: the sweating all night because their kid is having nightmares, it’s relatable. We take a deep breath seeing that they are human too.

Try this: take a vulnerability risk and tell a friend something confusing or uncomfortable about your own parenting. Ask for support and guidance and forgive yourself for not knowing it all!

Trash the Guilt, Fear & Worry

Guilt, Fear and Worry are the elephants in the room for all parents, and they are fun killers. They trample in upon birth and infiltrate our decisions, dictate the fights we have with our partners and muffle the experience of ease and fun in parenting.

‘I feel guilty for leaving the baby with a sitter. I feel guilty that my son didn’t get enough protein today. I worry that my baby isn’t crawling. I am afraid she won’t get into the right preschool. I feel guilty for feeling angry at the temper tantrums.’ Guilt guilt guilt. Worry worry worry fear fear fear. 

We must put an end to needless guilt, worry and fear. I’m not talking about the reasonable worries and fears, such as teaching them not to run into traffic, or sticking their hands into burning fire. The energy of guilt, worry and fear bring us down and cloud natural parental intuition.

Try this: When guilt, fear and worry enter your battlefield, ask yourself where the concern comes from. These feelings are often generated from cultural conditioning and our upbringings. Tune in and ask if your intuition matches the concern. If not, go with your intuition.

Personally, I have fear about my son surfing due to a terror of sharks and open water. He and his father have no concerns. I had to ask myself if my own fear was also my intuition that he is in danger. When I tuned in, my intuition said he would be safe. Trust your intuition, it works.

Pleasure versus Pressure

Parents come to me when they are at the end of their rope. They have checked all the boxes of what a ‘good parent’ does and yet there is often an emptiness, and a far off look. Pre-kids, parents used to be individual selves tuning in to their own needs and wants. When the kids are first born, there has to be an abandonment of self to focus on keeping the baby alive. As children get older, many parents forget the importance of reintegrating their own needs and desires.

There are many ways to reintegrate, like picking up an activity you did before or going out alone with your partner. In addition, I suggest that when with your child, that you consider parenting from your own pleasure. Instead of saying to yourself, ‘My child should go to the playground for stimulus’, ask yourself what you would want to do at this moment in time. Let’s say it is to go on a hike. Think about a way you can integrate your child into your desire, rather than the other way around.

At home, if you hear yourself say the words ‘I should…fold the laundry, clean up the toys…stop yourself. Instead, ask yourself what would be the most pleasurable approach to your home and responsibilities. Start with something that feels good, and let it unfold from there. You are allowed to revolt against the laundry, and sometimes it’s vital. 

Being true to yourself and parenting in a self-loving and joyful way, teaches your kids how to do do the same. You are raising them in your image.

Inner Child Play

Do you ever get bored playing with your kids? Do your eyes glaze over and your mind wanders to other projects? The problem is, parents try to play with their kids in adult mode, continuing to parent and monitor while they play. This creates two different modes, and a dynamic of observing the play more than being in it. Playing with our kids requires a different set of skills to make it fun.

Are you in touch with your inner child aspects? Each adult is made up of every age they have ever been, and yet it is rare that they consciously step into earlier ages. Parents need inner child play time just as much as kids need play.  This is a major benefit of parenting – the opportunity to play.

Try this: Imagine yourself at a younger age. This inner age could be the age of your child now or any age that feels appealing to you at the moment. Pretend you are that age, let’s say five for example. Try to play as a 5-year-old with your child for a 15-minute period. Ask yourself, how would a 5-year-old play legos and try playing that way. When you drop into your inner child, the experience of play becomes more magical and engaging. You enter the same playing field. Of course you never turn off the adult part, who watches out for safety and time constraints. Bring out your inner child and see what happens!

The more of your joyful, honest and fulfilled self you offer your children, the more they will mirror your favorite activities, honesty and playfulness. Most importantly, your parenting life will become integrated with the whole of you.

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Valerie Tate

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