No-one told us how to do this parenting thing, and most of the time we’re making it up as we go along. There are so many different unexpected challenges we cannot possibly be prepared for, or skilled at dealing with any of them. There’s the overwhelming roller-coaster of emotions. The expectations of what our children should be doing and the challenge when they do something completely different. The trying to find solutions to what we and our kids struggle with, and the being met with sometime success and frequent failure.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of pressure for us to parent ‘right’. The glamorisation of parenting in magazines and on TV, the demonisation of those who don’t parent ‘right’. That is not to condone harmful and abusive parenting, but the fact is we all struggle at times. As human beings we are a mix of qualities and emotions and are capable of hurting others, and hurting our children, especially when we're struggling alone. The fact that we are generally left to get on with it, mostly alone, exacerbates the problem and we are left feeling somehow deficient and wrong. And so, given that we face these pressures and lack of support, we are left with having to reach down deep inside ourselves to find the resources and wisdom to be able to make the best decisions for us and our families.
How do we access this wisdom? First we need to accept that we are not perfect, that we may get cross, overwhelmed, or want to escape. These are normal reactions to the overwhelming pressures that parenting brings. When we can recognise our humanity in all its messiness, we can start to find solutions. It might look like this:
My reaction to my child just then was completely out of proportion. I’m obviously angry/stressed/feeling helpless. What is going to help me right now? What do I need?
Now wisdom is not the same as strategy, planning or providing in a material way, rather it focuses more on the present moment. It usually comes with a small step. Something immediate you can do right now to regain your balance. And while this of course has benefits for your child, this wisdom often reveals something that you yourself need. And if you’re reading now, this is a reminder that you deserve something for yourself, because you matter as much as your children do.
Take some time to ask yourself what will help right now, and if you want some more soothing ideas of how to care for yourself, check out our gorgeous and instantly actionable 3 steps for self care here.