There is so much information available now on how to be a great parent. There is so much pressure on parents to do things perfectly in order to do the least possible damage to our children. Parenting comes rife with the judgement of others, comparisons to other children and unspoken competition with other parents.
Good enough is okay
It is possible that being a “good enough” parent is okay. As parents we will make mistakes and it is almost inevitable that we will screw our children up – sorry but it’s true. Even with our best intentions and even when you are a “perfect” primary care giver to your children – just like you – your children are meaning making machines. This means that you will never have total control over how life impacts them.
So in this context – what is a good enough parent?
This is likely to be different for different families. Ultimately, all you can do as a parent is to look your children in the eye and let them know that they are beloved. Even then they may not let you tell them or they may not hear it. The goal then is to ensure this message gets through to them.
How can I ensure my children know they are loved?
All you can do it tell them what is going on for you in the moment. If you are feeling “it”, as in the love, then let them know. How you let them know is up to you. You can always demonstrate an interest in how your children are different from you. The Five Love Languages (Gary Chapman) is a great starting point for understanding how people demonstrate and receive love in different ways. Your children will be different to you in other ways and good connection represents a respectful exploration of those differences.
Present Moment Psychology is available to support you to explore who you are and how you are different from your child. In particular, our psychologists are driven to assist you with the ability to balance your own needs with those of your child.
How can you navigate the minefield of parenting?
Positive parenting is all well and good when we are in the right frame of mind. However, frequently as parents we are busy, inattentive, quick to respond negatively and sometimes all the positive stuff goes right out the window. Enter feelings of guilt, fear of failing as a parent and damaging our child. The following is not provided to replace the very useful strategies found in programs such as Triple P (which is a program that come highly recommended by our psychologists). It is a guide to help think about what you can do when things go south and you are having trouble connecting with your child. That said, it is equally important to balance connecting with your child with meeting your own needs. The basic human dilemma.
We are all told that “being a parent is the hardest job in the world”. However, what is really hard is keeping sane when your little (or not so little) ones are doing their best to push your buttons. Managing yourself, keeping calm and making the right choice, is really tough. It is definitely not foolproof to try and control your feelings. Typically, your children know when you are ropeable even when you are displaying exceptional amounts of self-control. It is important that you can give yourself the space to withdraw from the contact with your children and look after yourself (where possible). See the aeroplane metaphor.
Repair is key.
It is possible to establish “good contact” with your children after a fight or breakdown. A lot of good things can come out of a not so good parenting moment when you are motivated to move towards repair. You can teach your child that emotions are okay and that you can have arguments, or points of difference, and that the relationship will still be there for them. You can demonstrate being authentic with your children, discussing what happened for you in the moment. You can offer a space for your child to open up with his or her own experience. Remember good connection with your child can always be found in the “difference”. Lay the ground work while they are young. It will pay off during the teenage years!
Present Moment Psychology are able to provide you with a safe, non-judgemental space to explore the difficulties of parenting. To increase your awareness of your “way of being in the world” that might be getting in the way of great connection with your children. Present Moment Psychology are also available to assist you better recognise how you best support yourself in the very challenging role of leading children into adulthood.