Parents: Simplify and See What Matters
This is NOT “3 Easy Steps for Better Discipline” or “25 Amazing Sensory Activities to Do While Cooking Dinner.” This is intended to be Parenting Inspiration. The Big Picture for Parenthood is sometimes forgotten in our day to day.
Now I am not saying parenting is easy. It is difficult, arduous, and complicated. Children are extremely complicated as well, AND they are always changing. They are moving targets of energy, ability, and emotion on any given day. Parenting is work. How we look at this lifelong work makes all the difference. Is your parenting work a chore or a blessing? I’m guessing it depends on the day!
Our children leave us elated or exhausted or both.
All Children Are Hope For Their Families
There is a unique treasure inside every newborn that will unfold in it’s own time. We are grateful bystanders to this process. Parents create the best conditions for their child’s physical, mental, and emotional growth. Then much like a young tree, we stand back and patiently watch the unwinding expression of an individual personality.
Do we remember to stop, though? Do we take time to stop talking and worrying and controlling and cleaning and complaining? Do we remember to be in awe?
Give thanks for the element within your child that you could not predict and cannot change. It is so much more than you hoped for.
We Have 3 Roles As Parents
One of the things that makes parenting hardest in my mind, is there can be so much second guessing and uncertainty with every decision. Weighing short term gain with long term benefits is hard. Getting other family members and teachers on board with your strategies is hard. Feeling up to the challenge every moment of the day and night is hard. Sifting through all of the conflicting parenting advice is hard. Did we do enough or too much? We get wrapped up in trying to control too much, and I think that can be paralyzing.
We can’t see the three simple things that are the most important for parents to do:
Observe and Learn From Your Child
In order to respond to our child’s unique and individual needs, we need to be still. Literally, sit still and silently take some notes or pictures to document what they do. Be prepared to ask and learn why your child behaves the way they do through this observation. What are their motivations, what are their current abilities and frustrations, what are their needs and wants and fears? Be a detective and discover patterns in their behavior, and if you are the cause. Find the things that are making it hard for them. If we only react positively or negatively to behavior after it occurs, we don’t ever understand the messages our children are sending. We can’t see how to help them.
Serve Your Child
What I mean by “serve” is that we can aid their development by creating an environment that is perfectly suited for their current needs. Whether it is food, toys, clothes, furniture, language, routines, or schools. Not too much stuff. Not too busy. Not too colorful or loud. Not too many words. Not more than they can manage. Just enough. Follow their behavior to know when they are at their limit. Most of us need to simplify and clarify what we provide young children.
We can educate ourselves about child development in general, and then tailor it for our child’s individual interests and talents. We want to give them the most sparkling and interesting things to do so they will want to repeat them and be able to do them independently. Help them feel successful and want more. Your child teaches themselves through their experiences, so make them valuable.
Be As Saintly As You Can
Can you be compassionate during a tantrum? Can you respect your child’s opinion? Can you hold your tongue and let your child learn from their own mistakes? Can you respect her when she falls short? Can you model the patience and unconditional love that you wish to see?
You can try.
This is hard for most of us.
When children are out of control, we get louder and become frantic to regain control. Instead, get quiet. Whisper, stop moving, smile and breathe.
When children ask for help, we give it, but it is even more important that we stop helping when it is no longer needed.
When children say they are bored, we panic that we must fix it. Instead, do less. Allow them time to find the wonder that is already inside them. Let them learn how to embellish their own lives.
When children don’t listen the first time, we repeat ourselves and threaten. Instead, calmly turn off the TV, turn the car around, remove their plate from the table, or pick them up without words. They heard you.
We cannot predict our children’s futures. The only clue we have about their direction are the footprints they have already made. Children continue to follow their destiny whether we get in their way or not. They will always bend and continue to grow around obstacles and overcome scars.
We can only support and nurture who they already are.
Parents Are Unfinished Too
No parent is ever perfect. We grow and learn from our parenting experiences just as children do, and we are unfinished. When we fall short as parents, we become more aware of how high our goals really are. High goals like perfection are not attainable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep climbing.
Many of us remember when we had all of the parenting answers until we had children! That was when we were the unmoving and jagged rock in the stream. The longer we parent, the more polished our edges become, and everyday our children take a tiny piece of our edges with them as they travel down stream to their future.
We teach each other.
I shared this on Epic Friday found on theseamanmom.com