Breathe…. 8 Guideposts to Help You Navigate the Parenting Journey.
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.
Often on my journey as a parent, I have found myself exhausted, overwhelmed and second guessing myself. I wonder about the impact that my words, my actions and my choices have on my children. I wonder what they take away from my reactions to situations; I wonder what I am teaching them without even knowing that I am.
I search for clues from their faces, their monosyllabic answers or grunts and from their own reactions. I debate whether to broach a subject with them fearing if, by even bringing up a topic, I am planting seeds in their minds that have no business being there in the first place.
When children are at a very young age it is easy for us parents to figure out their needs. If we have done a respectable job we can usually tell if our teens are upset, ambivalent or could not care less about an issue.
But parenting. Dear God, parenting.
The worry. When they are a little late. When they get hurt. When they are sick. When they have exams. The angst……
When you walk into a mobile phone store to buy yourself one you walk out with a box with all the accessories, a user manual or guide and a promise of after sale service.
Not so with having children. You have the baby and a couple of days later you walk out of the hospital with the car seat, diaper bag and a whole cornucopia of joy, bewilderment and a terrible, terrible! fear that you are going to mess up. Big time. Because that tiny little human being is dependent on you for everything.
Down the road, that tiny little human being may turn eighteen, or twenty-one or fifty but you are still the parent. You still worry, fret, guide, feel concern, nag and cheer on.
As my Big Bro is fond of saying: “It’s not about you anymore.”
And that’s why we need signposts, speed bumps and traffic lights to help us if we are to survive this journey called parenting:
Pray. A lot.
Ask God to guide you to give what you are able to give of yourself when raising your children. Ask Him to grant you the wisdom and the clarity to do your best by your kids. To fortify you with mental and emotional strength.
Say a prayer for your kids; that they may be guided to be the best of themselves. That when they stumble (and they will) they know enough to pick themselves up and dust themselves off. That they may be safe from harm.
There is so much relief and freedom in handing over your worries and fears to a higher power. You will feel a lightness you did not realise you could feel no matter the extent of your concerns.
While parenting is a 24\7 job, you are allowed to hand over the kids to someone else for a day or two or whatever feels comfortable and go do your thing. Call it your off duty time. Non-negotiable;-) This, for me, was so vital when my kids were younger. I looked forward to it and strangely (or maybe not!) I found myself missing them desperately!
Keep a Positive Mindset
Tell yourself I can do this! I got this! Even when you are feeling anything but. Even when you are disoriented from a lack of sleep or when you get a call from your child’s principal. I got this!
Ask for help.
There was actually a time when I thought that asking for help or advice meant I had failed as a parent. Or that my kids were such a handful that I needed someone else’s expertise to tell me how to raise them! We are all trying to do our best by our kids. But, I would be careful who I asked for help or advice though. We all know those people who show you the way and then proceed to tell all and sundry that you are such a parenting mess that they had had to sort you out!
Listen and Empathise
If you are raising teenagers like me; it is important to listen and empathise with your kids. Put yourself in their shoes. You have been there after all. (Yes, I know- There are teenagers and then there are teenagers from this decade 🙂 )
Doing that saves you the angst and stress that comes with: ‘because I am the parent and I say so!’ The chances of them actually seeing your point of view because you could see theirs is much higher.
Let them fail, and make mistakes. You did not stop your toddler from trying to walk! Stop fighting their battles for them and stop micromanaging. This is the hardest for many parents I know. We want to shelter our kids, give them what we ourselves never had, make sure they do, are and show up the best. We end up suffocating them in the process and strangling their self-esteem.
Stepping back requires strength and the faith that you raised them right. It requires you to believe in your kids even more and to trust their choices.
I am still learning to accept Little Man’s choice of clothes and training myself not to cringe -or offer an unsolicited opinion- at the all colour soccer jerseys which he prefers. All the time 🙂 Somehow, there is less stress now because of it.
Allow yourself to admit defeat, overwhelm and whatever else you are feeling at the time. Chances are after that you will pick yourself up and be able to handle whatever crisis your teenager from the planet rude and unresponsive has managed to get himself into. That whatever misfortune has fallen into your lap you will get through and handle it.
You are human, beautiful in your imperfection. Acknowledge the fact that you will make mistakes as a parent, probably the same way your parents did with you.
Cut yourself some slack. As long as your kids know that they can come to you no matter what you can stop beating yourself up about blips here and there.
Remember…... “there is no such thing as a perfect parent….so just be a real one”