Often we can parent straight from the heart.
We can rely on our instincts and our generous internal response to our kids to meet them in the moment and make decisions about what is needed.
And then there are times when things break down, and it becomes hard to show up as the calm, centered, thoughtful parent. We can’t relate to our children’s behaviors, we get sucked in by social expectations, non-parental stress takes over our brains, or we get hooked by something a kid says or does.
These are the times we need to parent from our values, relying on our guiding principles because we can no longer trust our soft hearts and intuitions to save the day.
One of the things that helps me is to have essentially a mantra, a short phrase that I can easily access when things get rough.
My favorite is:
“Love comes first. Everything else is secondary and tentative.”
~from I will never leave you by Hugh and Gail Prather.
When things aren’t going the way I want them to and I’m feeling frustrated because my agenda has been thwarted (again), these two sentences help keep me focused on what is important.
When I remind myself of this thought, it feels as if my feet have landed on the rock-solid base of putting the relationship first. Responding to behavior incidents and managing upsetting situations becomes much clearer as soon as I remember that how I treat the person in front of me matters more than the outcome of the given situation.
Another of my favorites is:
“What is really going on right now?”
This simple sentence turns me towards my Sherlock Holmes parts. I find it is most useful when accompanied by a cup of tea and a comfy chair, though in a pinch still works great in the middle of the kitchen floor with the chaos of family drama swirling around me.
It reminds me to be curious, to look more carefully into what is going on and why – beyond my probably not very generous or helpful knee jerk assessment (“they’re just being a brat” sound familiar to anyone else?).
“What’s going on?” prompts me to think about people’s current status of tired/hungry/lonely/frustrated (including my own).
The emphasis on “really” pushes my investigations to a deeper consideration of what needs are unmet, what fears are riled up, what preceding incidents might be driving this moment’s behaviors. What my kids do is always WITH purpose (as opposed to ON purpose), it is up to me to find the roots of that purpose and help them find a better way to handle the situation.
For many of us, January is a natural time to start again or add in new habits.
Do you have a guiding phrase for your parenting? Or a motto for when things start to go astray?
If you’re ready for help finding your own guiding principles
so that you are parenting from clear intention and better able to respond with warmth rather than react in the challenging moments with your kids, schedule a free strategy session with me.
We’ll talk about what’s going on in your family, your hopes and dreams, and how I can help you define your own guiding principles then put them into daily practice in ways that create more cooperation and ease in your home – all while helping your child grow towards a healthy adulthood.