There are definitely way more than six things I’ve learned about being a parent, but these are some of the top things. Being a Conscious Parent is truly a full-time job and it’s a lot like putting a puzzle together as you observe your child learning and growing. What lessons are they working on and how do you fit into the picture? Are you supposed to help or not help, support, suggest, guide, let them be?
Here are six of the top things I’ve learned about being a parent:
You are not your child’s ‘friend’. I’m clear that I am my son’s mother and I know why it’s important to know the difference. Caidin and I have a great relationship, but I am not his ‘friend’, I am his Mom. A Mom can be friendly, but friends hold a very different place in our lives. As Caidin’s Mom, I understand that it’s my responsibility to make the tough decisions, to lay the ground rules and to insist that they be followed. I know that when I do, there are times that he’s going to go up to his room and be mad at me for a few minutes, but in the end I also know that it will all be O.K. He knows that I love him, I like him and he also understands my role as his mother. Spend some time talking to your child about your job as ‘parent’. It might help them better understand why you make the decisions you make and it might make the need to struggle against you far less. Don’t use old cliches like ‘I’m doing this for your own good.’ That never made any sense to us, and it won’t make sense to your kids either.
It’s not your job to make things easy but rather to give your child opportunities to learn and grow. No one wants to see their kids struggle, but it is in overcoming those struggles that many of their best life lessons are learned. As a Mom it can be almost instinctual to want to smooth the way. Instead of doing something for your child, be the first to encourage her to try to for herself, help her find strategies to solve her own problems or find answers to her own questions. If it’s problems with friends or school, help her find solutions. And don’t try to make her school experience perfect. School is not only for learning about math and reading and science, but it is also about learning how to navigate the world.
Their school experience is not your school experience. When Caidin first started school I felt like I had stepped back into High School. Conversations were peppered with gossip and certain parents seemed to form power wielding clicks. When one parent turned and walked away from me while I was talking I realized, Caidin’s school experience is not my school experience. It was a great relief as I stopped trying to fit in and moved to simply dropping Caidin off and speaking to anyone who was interested, allowing those who weren’t to float by like a passing breeze. I removed myself from any drama or discussion that wasn’t about anything relevant. If you find you have anxiety about interacting in your child’s school environment just remind yourself – he’ the one who is going to school, not you.
You are your child’s advocate Your child needs someone who stands on their side. It’s time to put aside whatever makes you uncomfortable and speak-up for your child. Some parents have no problem with this and some would benefit greatly from monitoring their involvement, but others are afraid to speak-up when something seems wrong or out of place. Their own fear of confrontation gets in the way. Children need us to be their advocates but that doesn’t mean problem solvers. Being their advocate means that you intervene if it seems like they are getting no where with a teacher or a friend or worse a bully. If someone doesn’t ‘like’ you for speaking up, better that then your child feel like she is alone.
Nothing can take the place of one-on-one time. Kids might like things and gadgets and toys, but in the end, there is nothing better than when they get to spend real, meaningful time with you. Even if you have one of those cynical teenagers who doesn’t seem to have anytime to spend with you at all, there is something that you can find, some moment that will remind them that you are always there – whether it’s having lunch, or going to a concert or doing something that he wants to do – one-on-one time is incredibly powerful.
Simple is often better. How many times have you gone out of your way to buy a shiny new something (for your baby, for your toddler, for your child, for your teen) only to have it cast aside a few days or a month later. Yet that old cardboard box has been turned into cars, spaceships, forts and a restaurant. Sometimes too many things are just that too many things. Help your child find joy in the simpler things – the cardboard box, the nighttime sky, the plants around us, there is no shortage of simpler things.
Leave a comment here about what you have learned about being a parent or come join me over at The Conscious Mom’s Guide and get involved with a growing group of conscious parents. You can then share what you’ve learned on the Conscious Parenting Forum.
© 2012 Christine Agro
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Christine Agro is a clairvoyant, naturopath, Master Herbalist, conscious mom and author of 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously as well as of The Conscious Living Wisdom Cards (Special Moms’ Edition). Christine is founder of The Conscious Mom’s Guide , a membership site where she helps support you on your own journey of living life consciously and on your journey of being a Conscious parent. You can also join Christine on Facebook. To contact Christine, invite her to speak or to schedule an appointment with her please email her.