The famous quote from Mahatma Ghandi –‘Be the change you wish to see for the world’, is a powerful message for parents. When you, the parent, live with respect and compassion, living your truth with an open heart and willingness to face the challenges of life with integrity and courage, you will be deeply modelling these powerful qualities to your children. This is the greatest teaching that you can give.
As a single parent for many years I often struggled with overwhelming feelings of anxiety, inadequacy and sheer frustration. Even though I was ‘saying the right words’ and ‘doing the right things’, I was racing through my busy days and often feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and anxious. I finally realised that this was exactly what I was modelling to my daughter. I tried all the parenting techniques and tools about what to do when my daughter did this, or how to act when she said that, trying desperately to find an easier way to cope. I gradually came to realise that I needed to look at my own issues, my own childhood conditioning, my anger and my high expectations of my daughter and of myself, which were having a huge impact on how I was parenting and reacting to her ‘normal’ childhood behaviour.
When children are young, the family is their whole world, and we parents create the environment in which they grow. Children learn about themselves and their place in the world from their parents. If children can see their parents dealing positively with negative feelings and challenging situations, then they realise that they can as well. If on the other hand, they experience us as resentful, anxious or defeated in the face of difficulties, they will be moulded by this over-riding negativity that will limit them from living to their potential….even if our words are positive! The most effective and powerful teaching that your child can receive is healthy role-modelling from you, the parent. For this to be a positive experience it is crucial to be aware of how you respond to your child when they are pushing your buttons, when you are busy, wrung out, tired, stressed or overwhelmed with the demands of life.
You need to be guided in order for you to regain your balanced composure, rather than reacting unhealthily from your frayed emotional state. It is important to reconnect lovingly with yourself so you can respond appropriately and compassionately to the needs of the moment. When a seedling is given good soil and care, it will flourish and grow into a strong, healthy tree. Similarly children will grow confident and capable when nurtured with healthy principles that are modelled compassionately by their parents.
By far and away the most important nourishment of all is the unconditional love that you feel for your child. It is this love that nourishes the soul because it honours who they are, not just what they do. When your children ‘feel’ your unconditional love and acceptance of who they are as human beings, (even when they are being reprimanded for misbehaving, even when you are angry at their thoughtless behaviour), you are giving the greatest gift of all. It gives them an inner sense of worth and self-esteem that will stay with them throughout their life and hold them steadily through the challenges that they will surely have to face.
If you are looking to deepen your relationships and learn the basics of authentic communication (with yourself and others) take a look at this online course – Transformative Communication – an easy and life-enhancing approach for better relationships.
For more on parent/child connection, Sharon’s workshops and her free E.Book “The 7 Steps to a Loving Connection with Your Children” is available at connectingkidsandparents.com.au
Her next workshop “Connecting Kids & Parents Day Retreat” is taking place in Sanur, Bali, Indonesia, on November 24th – Contact Nairana on 085857316802 or email@example.com