Perfect Parenting or Authentic Parenting? Part 2
In part 2 of her beautifully written blog, Gemma shares some insightful ways to support you on your journey to authentic parenting.
Parenting from the heart
We are lucky to live in an age where we have a wealth of advice at the touch of a button, but in our aims to be the ‘perfect’ parent who is raising a ‘perfect’ child this can sometimes cause us to lose sight of their actual needs through following the advice of others or sticking rigidly to a behaviour strategy that would never work for your child. Sometimes, blindly searching for the resolution rather than recognising the cause, means we are blocking our parental instincts and ultimately causing detriment to the parent-child connection. We need to trust ourselves and parent from the heart because connection to our child should be our priority. We need to feel their behaviours, see what they need in that moment and be exactly what they need us to be. Parenting from the heart is authentic parenting.
Be transparent in the spectrum of emotions
As role models, we need to be honest, transparent and unashamedly true. We can teach the values and provide our children opportunities for them to learn, but to truly instil an authentic way of being; we must demonstrate a genuine way of living. Practicing authentic parenting is empowering because it releases us from having to be a ‘text book perfect parent’. It allows us to create a genuine connection with our children by allowing them to witness the spectrum of emotions that we all feel, including the sadness, frustration and anxiety. Children mimic our behaviours and responses to the world so it is important to communicate and verbalise your true feelings; when they see us living comfortably as our genuinely imperfect selves, we are creating a safe space for them to do the same. Supporting our children to express their emotions, allows them to interact and communicate in a way that feels natural to them and helps them to process and deal with any feelings they have. Through helping them to create the connection and understanding of their inner self, they will not feel so engulfed by big emotions and have a greater resilience to carry them through life’s challenges; a skill which is so significant for their wellbeing.
Raise your children to think for themselves
Freedom of speech is vital for our wellbeing. However, it can sometimes feel uncomfortable when our child has an opinion that does not match our own. Instead of feeling the need to influence them into your way of thinking, we need to support them and encourage them to have a voice. Not only will this promote self-esteem but when children feel safe to think and feel, they will develop their own opinions which will give them a solid foundation to learn who they truly are. Embracing individuality is a lifelong process but exploring the world with a curious open mind will enable them to learn about themselves on a deeper level. Children who are raised to be blindly obedient or submissive in their opinions, may often be more judgemental in their views or may be more likely to succumb to peer pressure (every teen parent’s worst nightmare). However, the children that are encouraged to enquire, question and develop their voice will be the children that will stand up for their beliefs and they will be the leaders and the change makers. Raise your child to think for themselves and get rid of the notion that the way others do things is the ‘normal’. Challenge your child to commit deeper to their beliefs rather than challenging them to change their opinions. We need to show children that there are boundaries/standards and to know right from wrong, but teach them to feel comfortable following their own beliefs and listening to their own instinctive signals and morals. Get comfortable with your child not following your way of thinking. The children who are willing to colour outside the lines instead of following everyone else, will often be the ones that instead of seeking validation from others and comparing themselves, will feel comfortable with their own choices.
Self-belief has a direct impact on whether we are living authentically
Sometimes it can feel like we have reluctantly entered into a social rat race to smash the next milestone or to live up to everybody’s expectations of perfect parenting. We are all guilty of this, but seeking external validation can really have a negative impact not only on our parenting capabilities but it may also transpire into our children’s consciousness, which can lead to spiralling self-doubt. When we are born we crave the love and approval from parents, then teachers, then friends and then society, but when do we learn to seek the love and approval from ourselves? Wouldn’t we have a higher sense of self-worth and a deeper commitment to growing our inner reliance if we were taught the power of self-love at an earlier age? Social media and the expectations of the wider world can lead to our inner critique getting louder and more suffocating, particularly if we don’t have the tools and knowledge of how we can help ourselves. Expectations will always exist, so one of the most fundamental ways to support your child is to build their self-worth! Instilling self-belief and showing your children that their impact in the world is valuable will enable them to deal with any negative setbacks. Low self-worth comes from insecurities; insecurities come from doubt; and doubt intensifies the inner critique which shadows the authentic self. Self-belief has a direct impact on whether we are living authentically. One simple way that we can develop our children’s confidence, is through catching them doing things right. Instead of allowing them to focus on the ‘failures’, highlight what they have done well; if they missed getting into a team, acknowledge their feelings and praise them for the effort in training. Prompt them to seek the moments that they are proud of. Praise and self-worth go hand in hand, particularly praise about their character rather than achievements. When your child asks if they think a friend will like something, remind them that them liking it is good enough! Let them see that their presence in the family house is valued and their contribution is appreciated. This will lead them to know that their place in the world is important. As a parent, or even as an individual, do you feel worthy? Are you modelling these values to your child? It is vital that you value who YOU are, in order for them to see how to value who they are. Make it explicit and allow them see that self-love is something that should be celebrated.
Imagine a generation who are ready to offer their uniqueness to the world, each person gratified, whole, and living a life that is of their true calling. Think of what things could be eliminated: prejudice, anxieties, judgement, and depression? The concept of authenticity may seem broad, but really isn’t it just about the appreciation of oneself and life. Forget the perfect parenting persona; release yourselves from the shackles of society’s judgement. Be authentic in yourself and your parenting. Believe that you are enough and start to parent in a way that is natural to you, let your children connect with the authentic you and empower them to be their most authentic selves too. We need to not only see the miraculousness of our children but also the miraculousness of ourselves and the miraculousness of life.
About Gemma Baird
Gemma lives in Carlisle, Cumbria with her two children. She works in a school, supporting children with additional needs, and runs nurture groups for children with varying needs. Her experience of working with children and passion for children’s happiness and wellbeing has led her to train as a Mini me yoga ambassador. She is now on a mission to bring yoga and mindfulness into every school setting and home in and around Cumbria. She offers numerous workshops to educators or any adult who is interested in using mini me yoga with the children in their lives. Gemma can also provide yoga sessions at home or in educational settings for children aged 3-14. She invites you to get in touch to find out more about her services and how to discover the magick of mini me yoga.
Contact Gemma on Facebook: minimeyogacumbria