Imagine the types of parents trying to enhance their parenting skills. Some out of convenience, some because they want to be preventative and others because something is so out of alignment or so uncomfortable that they are now being guided to do something different, maybe not totally consciously but because they know something has to change. This happens in many cases with many things. Parenting is one of the things that does not come with an owners manual or guide book for what to say and when to do what. Parenting gets to be an intuitive flow. The thing is, it is very much like improvising all of the time.
Some parents go all-in on vulnerability and accountability. Maybe parenting comes easier to them because they had guidance and support when they were growing up. They can allow themselves the time and space to commit to learning and staying focused. If however they neglect their own personal needs and only allow the bare minimum to keep themselves afloat while always saying yes to their child in fear that their child will not be happy, then their child has to work harder in other areas of their life to receive the lessons of disappointment or emotional resolution.
Other parents invests most of their time and energy into investing into themselves in order to cultivate strength in relationship with their children. They focus on THEiR role, as a conscious parent, refining and improving constantly and checking themselves before ever evaluating someone else’s behavior. They have a willingness to acknowledge that they will make mistakes by default, because they are human and they are okay with owning their faults openly for the measure of learning and growing. They fully commit no matter what to prioritizing their most high value time and energy that they can in their highest capacity. Their kids come first no matter what.
If you take a look at where 5 years into the future brings us, which parent will have a higher quality relationship with their child(ren)? You guessed it, the parent who knew they would make mistakes yet ventured to learn and grow alongside their children anyway. And it’s not just because the first situation leads to burn out. Showing up authentically as a role model to demonstrate the foundation of your thoughts and beliefs and sensations and feelings is the greatest thing any parent can do to enhance their quality of parenting. It instantly separates you from those who are not personally engaged or connected to themselves. It makes you the preeminent authority in your home. It opens the doors for high quality interactions and experiences that can bring your relationships to the next level. It also creates a more fulfilling feeling that adds value to your life in more ways than just what money can buy. So how do you create that exceptional parent child relationship in your own personal experience? Apart from how you are doing your best and showing up authentically as you are, it is all about creating a container of SAFETY for your children.
When your children feel safe with you, when they feel like they can trust you, they will have a great experience no matter what. When you are open and honest and consistently sharing TRUTH, they know they can share anything with you as well. Transparency is key. As humans we crave the truth and as kids, we can tell when people are being dishonest. We need truth, period. This may sound harsh, but there is no need to protect each other from feeling… we get to allow feeling to exist because it is the most powerful tool in the parent-child relationship toolbox. This is the secret to deepening relationship. Parents always ask me what they can and cannot tell their children. I encourage you to share what you feel is most relevant or most important it all in a way that appropriately matches where they are developmentally and for their age. In the moments of emotional upset or sharing of truth, kids might feel stuck and frustrated, things might not go their way, feelings might go flying everywhere… but it's all within your capability! They’ll know you’ll catch them if they fall or support them through any experience or response they choose to express. That is powerful.
How can you instill this feeling of unshakable trust and safety for yourself so that it can translate into your parent child dyanmic?
Let your kids know what to expect while they are in your care. The bigger the gap between your personal expectations and reality, the more likely your child ends up confused and unsure. The solution to this? Leave as little as possible up to their interpretation when it comes to the the few expectations you have for them. Remember the ground rules keep them secure in this place that allows them to be themselves within the safety of the container you hold as their parent or caregiver. You always want to lay out in detail, step by step from start to finish. NOT ONLY is this great for development, it is great for the brain to understand that how you treat YOURSELF models how you treat THEM and as a direct result, how they treat YOU. This is boiled down to self worth and setting boundaries that allow you to be present. Your intentions towards yourself directly reflect how you see your child.Your mutual roles and responsibilities as accountable puzzle pieces and important parts of the relationship plays into what comes next at every stage of the process. If your child says they’ve forgotten about these expectations, don’t hesitate to remind them. The subconscious brain as well as the developing brain LOVES repetition. It might sound annoying to repeat yourself, but know that a developing mind relishes in the repetition repetition repetition.
Clear, well-communicated expectations and rules are key to establishing that feeling of safety talked about at the beginning and that feeling of getting to have wiggle room within the structure. Your children don’t actually want to be in charge - they want to see that they are held within a structure that is disciplined and looking out for their overall wellness that’s what got them into their situation of being YOUR child in the first place. They want YOU to be in charge, so they can feel relaxed and just trust you. The real challenge is- are YOU ready to step into this role? Of course you are! You wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case. It’s not just for your child’s benefit, either! Expectations help YOU to maintain strong, healthy boundaries, so you can show up for every child interaction as your highest self acting in your highest integrity.
Understand unmet needs and demonstrate a way for needs to be met. Even if your parenting is absolutely perfect, there will be times where your children will struggle to stay in their own alignment. Like us as adults, kids have a different tolerance for different feelings on different days at different times. After being triggered, they’ll get tired, run into unexpected complications and forget to ask for what they need etc. This is where you will be able to detect exactly what they are asking for without them having to ask verbally. Imagine how your child is going to feel when intuit as they start having trouble and deliver the exact emotional support they are needing exactly when they are needing it. Or even better; you predict their emotion before it turns into an outburst, based on the energy, signs and symptoms they are communicating with you to show you how they feel. Your kids will feel like you have their back and that you’re attuning to their personal experience. When you can see, hear and understand them for EXACTLY who they are and for EXACTLY how they feel in that moment, there isn't much better that that when it comes to deep bonds and emotional availability. You're probably thinking: “Jen, I can’t read anyone’s mind; let alone anticipate their feeling state!” Im going to show you JUST how to do it. Going forward, I want you to track your child’s body language during an emotional upset. You can do this with notes on your phone, voice memo or a pen and paper. Whenever you notice your kiddo struggling, I want you to record: What exactly it is YOU are feeling? It is likely your child is “setting you up” to feel XYZ… What exactly are YOU sensing? Tight throat, churning belly, hot shoulders etc. The triggers: external challenge, not getting what you want, not winning, not having control etc. as well as any other details you think are significant to track in the moment.
If you do this diligently, you will catch many potential outbursts, challenges, and hardships your child might be facing. The secret is that when you track the feeling and sensation for yourself, your child now has some support to then figure out how they feel for themselves, with your presence of you sharing YOU. It's not your job to figure out their feelings, but by figuring our your own, your children can be apart of the process to figuring out their own too. Because of your demonstration, they now might have an alternative way to articulate their own experience for themselves. Now THAT is empowerment! Now that you know these areas of discomfort exist, you can consciously create SOLUTiONS for yourself and make your parenting more proactive rather than reactive as a result! Those solutions could take any form: an encouraging message you share; a personal response or personal story share to a curiosity; an extra moment spent snuggling with them; however you get to be creative in a way that works for YOU in a way that speaks to YOUR value and will work best naturally for YOUR flow…
Finally, make those conscious parenting solutions a permanent part of your routine with your kids. Your children will get help and support as soon as they start to struggle, or even before that rather than obsessing and ruminating on what they keep to themselves or feel too ashamed to show and share with you in advance. Remember, tracking your own behavior will help you rock your child’s world like nothing else. This is where the hard work begins! No one likes to notice themselves, especially the parts and pieces of self that desperately want to change. You being willing to look silly or get rejected for being you shows your child that they can increase their emotional intelligence too! Nothing is more important. I believe this to be true. Kids speak a different language than adults. Adults: are you willing to meet your kids in their world, in a world where we are constantly expecting our children to meet us in ours? You don’t have to be the perfect parent. And the good news is, your children do not want you to be perfect. There is no such thing. "Perfection" if we choose to call it that, can only happen 30% of the time. Research shows that perfect parents don’t exist. You just have to be the most willing to be yourself. This is how your kids will learn to do the same. Are you ready?