It Is Not Your Job

Our children want to be seen, to be known and to be loved. They do not need us as parents to feel responsible for “making” them. Our children already ARE. Our job is to support and guide them.

As I watch my four kids growing into the tots, tween and teen that they are today, more full expressions of the unique individuals I’ve known them to be since first breaths, first words and first steps, it is just that much easier for me to believe this very important concept:

It is not my job to make my children (fill-in-the-blank).

This frankly FANTASTIC revelation comes to me after years of parenting from a very different place. For years I parented believing it was my responsibility, nay, my duty and my moral obligation, to make my children a sometimes short and sometimes rather long list of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS depending on the moment.

Creative. Driven. Sensitive. Smart. Polite. Focused. Funny. Humble. Responsible. Outgoing. Patient. Kind. Generous. Empathetic.

My very important things list and yours might differ based on our upbringing, experiences, faith, age, cultural biases, education, gender, etc, but rest assured, if you know what it is to feel pressure from both inside and outside of yourself to make your child (fill-in-the-blank), then you know what I’m talking about.

Our very-important-things-place or VITP, is a not so fun, pressure-cooker like sort of place we parents go when we feel put upon by ourselves and/or society to MAKE our children something, especially when it is something our children are so very clearly NOT by their very nature. It’s a confusing and often self-contradicting place we drag our children when we fool ourselves into believing that as parents we have the power to MAKE THEM (fill-in-the-blank) by withdrawing our love, removing our favor, and resorting to tactics like shame, blame, bribery and manipulation.

Hadley bedtime poem

Some confusing messages that derive from this place might look like this:

“Be sensitive… but also be outgoing and fearless.”

“Dream big and think outside of the box… but also fit in with your peers, be compliant and do-as-you-are-told (i.e.: hug your grandma, put on your coat and go to the bathroom when I tell you to even when you say you don’t have to go or don’t “want” to… even when it goes against your intuition.)

“Be strong and lead… but also be passive, stop bossing your friends around and for God’s sakes don’t ask so many question or challenge the things we, your parents, tell you to be or do (or other authority figures for that matter – how could you embarrass us like that?!?)”

After 14 years of striving to catch my VITP in action, I’ve gotten better at recognizing it for what it is. When I feel the familiar tentacles of fear and not-enoughness taking hold, instead of surrendering to my VITP’s power, feeling off center, defensive, and blaming my kids for it, instead, I’m gently reminding myself to drop the chalupa. To step away from the wormhole sucking the whole-hearted love I have for my children out of me, a wormhole that would like to leave me with conditional love based on my approval/disapproval of my kids actions and beliefs.

we belong to each other

When I can catch my VITP at work these days, I say to myself:

“I can support these very-important-things I’m wanting to see within my children, but I cannot make them these things. My children’s true-est, most-powerful gifts already ARE. It is my job to love and guide my children such that they recognize and strengthen the already beautiful and intact attributes they already hold within themselves.”

Parenting in this way involves setting clear, firm, consistent limits when I see my kids moving off track (messy bedrooms, rude statements, mismanagement of time, etc, etc) but not from the angry, judgmental place my VITP wants to take me. If I truly want to lead and guide my children, I get to discipline them from my center. And yes, this entails saying “no” even as I craft my words to say YES— explaining what I want to see from them over what I do not. This entails being selfish if by definition “selfish” means my needs and wants are held right along side the needs and wants of every member of my family. This also entails letting go of the idea that I can love my family in a “perfect” way such that they will be happy and instead, embracing the truth that happiness is not the goal of parenting — my love and more full presence is. My willingness to grow right along side my child is. This road involves some NOT “happy” moments and that’s okay.

We ask our kids from as early an age as 2 or 3, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Instead of “A doctor/nurse”, “A baseball player” or “A ballerina!”, I imagine a world where our children reply instead, “What about who I am NOW? What about the things I love to do and be NOW? What about the things I think I’m good at doing and being TODAY?!?”

If we asked our children these three things daily in the way we parent, we just might get a closer look at each one’s very nature and stop deluding ourselves into thinking that we are MAKING our children (fill-in-the-blank).

In this new year, I hope you will join me in letting go of the notion that we MAKE our children (fill-in-the-blank) and instead, declaring the following:

“My job as mom/dad is to SEE my children – to know them and to love them – as they come to better know and love themselves.”

love imperfections

xo

PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive a free gift, a Hug Each Moment Kit via email today along with weekly positive parenting tips and inspirations direct to your inbox.

Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

My child won’t stop crying!

The next time your little one is losing it over something you think is silly (like maybe they asked you for a banana but not a PEELED banana, and, well, you peeled it! Who knew this could cause such pain and upset, right?!? but they are kids – not mini adults, and believe it or not, it DOES…) and you’re tempted to stay “Stop crying” or “Don’t cry”, take a deep breath and as you offer them the peeled banana anyway, say instead “I see you’re sad/disappointed. It’s okay to cry. I’m here…”

mr rogers quote

Say these words and mean them. Be there for your little one who is just beginning to learn about this thing called “feelings” … including anger, disappointment and yes, even rage.

Sure. It’s not easy to sit there and listen to your child cry when every cell in your body wants to yell “ALRIGHT ALREADY HERES YOUR DANG BANANA. SHEEESH WILL YOU STOP CRYING??!?! IT’S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL!” as you reach over to the fruit bowl and grab another banana.

But imagine instead you simply say “This is your banana today. If you want to peel your banana tomorrow you can. This is your banana today. It’s right here if you’d like it.”  Instead of being angry and reactive, these words are responsive, like training wheels, helping your child learn to be with their emotions, to express them and to shift.

As you sit with your child in the middle of their upset, look to yourself. What is happening in your body? Are you holding your breath? Are your shoulders tense and way up by your ears instead of relaxed and sitting on your ribcage? Does your face look all scrunched up, irritated and/or scary? Take a deep breath. Soften the lines on your face and keep breathing (this is the first thing that goes when we’re upset). Imagine a moment with your child where you were at peace and FULL of love. Snuggling. Staring into their big, dark eyes when they were a newborn. Breathe, holding this memory in your mind as you allow for this less than peaceful child that is before you to be seen as well.

As you sit there together, accepting your child and all their many feelings, she will likely still cry and she may never reach over and eat that peeled banana, but in the end, she will feel HEARD. And even though she was dealing with some downright big/scary/ugly feelings, the two of you will leave the experience feeling closer to one another instead of mad/angry/frustrated and further apart. Instead of learning to whine and cry to “get her way” your child learns 1) you can be trusted with their big emotions and 2) you can be loving even as you are setting limits. Limits that are clear, firm and respectful. What a gift.

Let your child know in ways great and small, you are a safe place for them to feel their emotions no matter what. Because you two? You are on the SAME SIDE OF THE COURT. You are connected. You are a team.

(And a damn good one at that.)

PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive a free gift, a Hug Each Moment Kit via email today along with weekly positive parenting tips and inspirations direct to your inbox.


Inspiration and support for the journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone! Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo

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Not Perfect Parenting

not perfect parenting

Give your family the gift of YOU. 

Imperfect, wonderful, awesome-sauce YOU.

Because when we do this.

When we let go of perfect…

Everything is possible.

xo

ps: Have you ever felt yourself letting go of “perfect” in one way or another and felt the DEEPER CONNECTION possible with your family/mama friends on the other side of perfect as a result? Tell your story in the comments below.

When we tune in and trust, everything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because mom-hood is BETTER when we’re holding hands. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest as well, because the manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone!

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Taking Love Off The Line

 

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.jpg

 

You love your child. Period.

I know this the same way YOU know this.

It just is. A nearly universal thing we moms all relate to. A mother’s love for her child is unconditional — the sort of love that suspends all logic.

So why?

Why do we as parents act like our love is negotiable, putting our love on the line when we’re upset?

Why do we say things to make our kids think there is any possible way that we could love them less because of their flaws? Because of their human-ness? Because of the dark, scary places that live inside of them? The places they love and trust us alone enough to show? The places they hide — from their teachers, from their friends, for fear that they’d no longer be worthy of love if someone found them out.

WHY?

We do it for that exact reason it was done to us. Because it is what we know. It is hard-wired into us. It is our knee-jerk reaction when things don’t go the way we’d like them to go. When our kids misbehave. When our kids are different. When they don’t fit into the square hole their school is pushing for them to fit into. When they don’t fit into the round hole our (generally well-meaning) parents, in-laws, friends, neighbors, doctors, etc tell us they “should” fit into.

We get triggered. We snap. We “lose it” on our kids.

It’s what we know.

But don’t we remember how it felt? That look from a parent (or a teacher or any other person of authority in our short little lives) that told us we had just completely let them down. The look that said “You, my friend, are a disappointment.”

Don’t we remember feeling the not-enoughness? Feeling, deep, in the pit of our stomachs, the I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not organized enough. I’m not sporty enough. I’m not social enough. I’m not outgoing enough. I’m not quiet enough. I’m not pretty enough… And on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

The beating ourselves up for our challenges, so much so we lost sight of our gifts?

“I can’t remember things like other people can. I don’t pay attention like other people do. I’m broken.”

Not only seeing it in their looks, but hearing it in their words.

What if, instead, we remember? Breathing. Clearing. Coming back to love.

Remembering that day when first, we locked eyes with our little one. The way we loved them then. Unconditionally. With our entire selves and everything we were. Love. More than life itself. Love.

Remembering. Our child’s innate goodness. Innate wholeness. Innate deservingness of love, not for anything they did or DO so much as just because THEY ARE.

Letting go. When old hurts creep up from the past to make their way into our ways of being today. Feeling for these moments. Watching for them. Sensing when we are about to move, are moving or have already moved off our center, triggered by something our child has said or done.

Catching these moments quicker as the weeks go by, quicker because of our growing awareness. Quicker because of grace and our breath and the support of a circle of other loving parents, equally committed the healing, growing journey that is parenthood.

Taking our love off the line.

Holding misbehavior as a sign of an un-met need and not a broken child. Using responsible, respectful, clear, consistent and firm words with our kids when met with a “teaching moment”.

“I love you but I do not love your behavior today.”

Connecting before correcting.

“Can we talk? I’m feeling very far away from you these days.”

“What do you think we could do to make mornings gentler/smoother/etc…?”

“I feel like I’m yelling at you all the time. I’m sorry I get so anxious when we’re running late. Do yo have any ideas that could help us here?”

Because really, you and me? Us — all of us — parents. We are on the same team as our kids. We’re not playing tennis, one on one, on opposite sides of the court as our children. NO. We are playing DOUBLES. TRIPLES. QUADRUPELS even. And there can many, many, many people on our same side of the court: husband’s, partner’s, teachers, doctors, etc.

We are all on the same side of the court.

The balls are flying at us, coming over that net at lightening fast speeds, and there we are, side by side, playing this game of life together… with our kids. Those balls, they’re not our kids. They’re life. Our pasts. Our fears. Other’s fears.

Tell this to your child today: “You and I? We are on the same side of the court.”

In the words you use. In the actions you take. Tell your child. Your love is theirs. Unconditionally.

It just is.

xo

—–

PS: If you liked this post, join our community of mindful mamas and receive weekly notes of inspiration and support for connecting with your kids along with a Hug Each Moment Kit direct to your inbox.

 

The journey of motherhood.  The manual is ours to write but we don’t have to write it alone. Let’s connect on twitterfacebook and pinterest too. xoxo

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How Can I Forgive

Photo Credit: Wise-Living.com

Photo Credit: Wise-Living.com

There is nothing like parenting to pull those old wounds to the forefront of life to be healed. Who, me? Triggered much as a mama? You bet-ja! Having and raising children is like jumping on the super highway to healing old hurts – the kind I don’t even consciously remember and the ones I do.

When I was newly wed, my husband and I were taking on personal growth and healing like it was part of some advanced college-credit course. We were in a committed, loving relationship for the first time in our lives (not just a serious relationship but REALLY committed, like for life) and that was all the safety we needed to start taking on our demons. We were both doing this independent of one another before we met but we picked up the pace a notch after getting hitched. There is nothing like being in a loving relationship to really open ones heart up to healing. And we got right into it, looking together at the the really gunky, ugly stuff that gets stuffed way down deep in one’s soul over decades of living.

The retreats we took both separately and together at Heartland, a retreat center in the Ozarks founded by Dr. Michael Ryce, were heaven sent. As newlyweds, we unearthed things about our-selves that before had been buried to deep to be handled. The retreats we took together, sometimes for weeks at a time, helped us acquire tools to navigate the murky channels inside ourselves that we were now in touch with. We each brought bags of pain (Michael calls this “garbage”) into our marriage. It may not sound sexy, but it’s true… and we all do it, anytime we start a relationship with another person. Matching bags of garbage. (Dang resonant energy.)

We did alot of living those first three years of marriage and it wasn’t all a bed of roses. When we finally did reach our third wedding anniversary, I remember my husband saying, “WHAT? It’s only been three years?” before he realized this was probably NOT the most romantic thing to say to one’s wife on one’s third wedding anniversary. But I completely agreed. Yep, not sexy (I told you) but hugely forwarding. And now that I think of it, maybe it IS sexy, but in a different sort of way. This is the stuff true love can be built on. Now four kids and fourteen years of marriage later, I get down on my knees and give THANKS for those early pre-kid years of intense personal growth we took on as a couple.

Today, parenting twins plus two children together and owning our own business, getting triggered or being “in pain” is not what I would call a rare occurrence in our home. But our upsets don’t throw us like they might have had we not taken on a very important belief early on in our relationship. It’s a belief we picked up at Heartland. This single sentence has guided us threw many a rough sea. It’s one I am thrilled to live by as a mom. It’s a simple statement, just seven words in all. What is this magical statement?

If I am in pain I am in error.

That’s it. Seven words. But these words have forever transformed my life, my relationship with my husband and our relationships with our kids.

When I first read this I completely disagreed with the statement… until I redefined what error meant. Now when I read the sentence, instead of thinking “wrong” which I used to equate with error, I now think “off the mark”. I look at the pain I’m feeling as a sort of red flag, a tip off to myself to think, “Wake up and watch yourself Suzanne!!!” because if I’m triggered (in pain) I can be sure there is something in the situation for me to heal (i.e. let go of, learn and/or grow) from. Error does not mean that the other person or circumstance in the situation is right and I am wrong. Not really. It’s just an invitation for me to look at something a bit closer from my past. Most likely, if and when I do, the thing that has me triggered will cease to hold so much power over me. Here’s a story of how this looks from my life. A “bad” situation that delivered HUGE rewards when I took on the idea that “if I was in pain, I was in error.”

There is nothing like parenting to make life a-parent. I get opportunities to heal things from my past all the TIME delivered to me by the four little master teachers (all under ten) that live with my husband and I.

If I am in pain I am in error. Take a moment to say it over in your head. Let it rise to the top of your consciousness the next time you feel your blood boiling because your two (or thirteen!) year old just will not listen! See if you can recall these words the next time motherhood or life is driving you insane.

These seven words have the power to transform your parenting reality. Here are two links to help these words live even more powerfully in your home. The first is a simple, seven step forgiveness worksheet created By Dr. Michael Ryce. When I started using it, I set a 30-day challenge for myself, committing to taking on seven small or large irritations a day for 30 days. This exercise proved to be a powerful one. You can do that as well or you might want to start slowly, simply committing to using the worksheet to process your feelings the next time you are parenting and feel yourself getting triggered. (Note to self: be sure to take on the small triggers first and work your way up to the doozies. Rome wasn’t built in a day…) This next link is a chapter from Dr. Michael Ryce’s book, Why Is This Happening To Me Again?!, where in the midst of telling a story about a guy named Richard who is learning about the power of forgiveness, he explains how to use the forgiveness worksheet

Thank you Dr. Michael Ryce, for giving my husband and I (and the world) your insightful perspective on forgiveness and the gifts of these tools. The relationships I have with my children and a large part of my approach to parenting in general is built upon the personal work I did before, during and after the weeks and months my husband and I spent in the Ozarks.

I hope these seven words and the forgiveness tools above bring you closer to yourself and to your family. Tell me what you think. How does the statement, “If I am in pain I am in error,” sit with you? What about life or parenting has been upsetting lately that you might be up for *forgiving*?

By Suzanne Tucker, mom of twins plus two, co-creator of My Mommy Manual and Yoga Parenting.

 

How to Forgive

monkey_barsI was at the playground the other day with my kids and my 7 year old was reaching for the third rung of the monkey bars, which is still just beyond her reach. As I watched, I could feel myself tense up and in an effort to “help,” I heard myself thinking about all the things she could do to “improve her performance.” But I said nothing. In fact, I had to turn away because I had a sense that she was looking to me for approval that she was “doing it right.” I didn’t trust myself not to express my own frustration, although well meaning, which would come through as judgement. [Read more…]

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Last week, I got feedback from a near stranger that nailed me right between the eyes. She took one of my greatest strengths – being a leader – and flipped it over to expose me for the equally poor follower that I am. This feedback wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to hear. It sort of knocked me off my feet because on some level, I knew she was right. She had seen a flaw in me and she let me know it, leaving me to [Read more…]

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love-heart-acceptTwitter rocks. As a newbie twittering for all of four days, I can say with confidence that it is a sign of the connectedness that we are. Twitter, like the internet which makes it all possible, connects us with like and unlike-minded people from across the world regardless of nationality, age, race or religion. This became clear to me when on my second day of twittering I posed a simple question to my new friends “What do you find most difficult to accept in this world (ex: cruelty)” and the tweets came rolling in. The replies I received were not only immediate, they were deep, insightful and oh so introspective.

[Read more…]

How Many Posts Can We Do About Love: 4

loveThis could also be called “How to Love When You Don’t Have To”. You know what I’m talking about…those times when you have EVERY RIGHT to be mad. Those times where you are justified in feeling angry, indignant, annoyed, irritated or just p.o.’ed. In celebration of Valentine’s Day this month, look for one of those times and love anyway. Forgive, be patient, be silly even instead of right. Move on, take a deep breath and see if you can let it go without an “I told you so…”, an angry word or a look (as it would be in my case because I have my angry look DOWN I tell ‘ya). [Read more…]