Your Parenting Style Is Your Relationship with Your Child
Parenting with love, anger, fear? Everything you do and say is forming the type of relationship you have and will have with your child. Are you in a dictator relationship where they do what you say no questions asked? Are you in a manipulative relationship where they will say and do what they know you want to hear in fear that perhaps you won’t approve of them or love them if they have their own opinions? Or, are you in a conscious relationship where your child can have their own likes and dislikes, their own opinions, and come to you easily with their needs and problems? Perhaps it’s a combination of the above or something different entirely. Either way, you have the awesome opportunity to be the person your child trusts and loves enough to go to with their joys, fears, successes, failures, embarrassments, needs, worries and more throughout their life.
Parenting Style of My Childhood
For some reason, I grew up feeling like I was never good enough… like I had to be perfect… I couldn’t make mistakes… and that I just wasn’t worthy. My parents were good parents, but we never talked about emotions and we were shown conditional love… meaning if we had bad behavior, they would get angry with us. Thing is, I got the message that it was not ok to mess up, and when I mess up they get mad. So, when I did have struggles and even messed up as a young adult more than once, I didn’t know who to turn to. I could have really used a loving parent to lean on, but I was too ashamed and afraid of the judgement I would receive if I opened up… probably more a result of religious dogma and fear, but nonetheless, my truth at the time.
Your Parenting Style and Your Kids
My son is now 6, and I love him no matter what. I am sure to tell him that all the time. I do also make a point to always validate his feelings and set limits on his behavior. Interesting enough, that is not the norm. I was at a back-to-school orientation night, and the director was asking us in the audience to list some qualities that we value in our homes. And, I raised my hand and said “unconditional love”. She disagreed in front of the entire auditorium and went on to say that it’s pretty hard to love a kid when they are doing the wrong thing. I was shocked at the matter of fact way she discounted what I said. I had truly learned to love my son even though he doesn’t always do the right thing… I had to… my son was just that kid who did the wrong thing often, and I hated the person I was becoming, getting mad and reacting to unwanted behavior rather than responding to it. It was not working for either of us. I’m happy I had the opportunity to learn how to love my son even when he’s not doing the right thing. Besides constantly helping him to identify his own emotions, I feel like I am constantly reassuring him it’s ok to have emotions and make mistakes while teaching him appropriate ways to handle them both.
Love Based Parenting Style Could Change the World
What would happen if all kids got the message that they were loved no matter what? If kids knew they were loved even if they got bad grades, or tried drugs, or had sex or got pregnant? I’m not saying you have to like what they did, I’m just presenting what it would be like if kids who got themselves into a mess actually had an unconditionally loving parent to turn to for help. Perhaps that kid wouldn’t even get into a mess… they’d talk to you about their struggle with their teacher or that subject in school and they would come talk to you about wanting to have sex or about how they may be feeling pressured to have sex. Then, these secure kids would grow into adults knowing they are loved even though they are not perfect, so they can skip the many years of having to learn to love and accept themselves as they are (because they already do) and get right to making a contribution to our world.
Conscious Parenting Can Begin Early
Do you love your kids unconditionally? Really? Can they be who they want and still get your attention? How often does your child come to you with an embarrassing situation or an intimate feeling or thought? How often do you share either with them? I was recently talking with a friend whose husband is a good guy but is sadly distancing himself from his daughter. He had taking her on a hike but decided not to bring water. He talked about how he spent many hours as a kid helping out his family and didn’t have water… and he was proud of how tough it made him. Problem was, in talking to her daughter, my friend finds out that she was really thirsty on the hike, but she didn’t say anything to her father. Was she embarrassed that she needed water… did she think he wouldn’t approve since he could go without water? Whatever the case… this little girl was unable to acknowledge one of her most basic primary needs and communicate that to a person she is supposed to love and trust. What is this teaching her about her needs? That her needs are not important… to not speak up… to comply so that others will love her! Wow, this is so dangerous. All because a father wants to teach their child something. Note to this father and other parents like him: Your child will NOT be coming to you when they are being pressured into sex or drugs if they can’t even express that they are thirsty!
Parenting Made Simple
Love is the answer. Don’t worry so much about what you want to teach your kid. Worry more about modeling how to think constructively, plan ahead, and love with your whole heart. Model how to handle your emotions eloquently. Model how to have fun in a safe way and how to say no when you want to. If you want to teach them something, then ask them how they are feeling? Ask them to check in with their bodies to see if they are hungry or thirsty or feeling like some exercise. Ask them, before the hike, if they’d like to bring water or a snack? (Then when they take a friend for a hike, they’ll consider their friend’s needs and ask them if they would like to bring water, etc.) Empower them with the tools of how to be prepared, how to love, how to understand what they are feeling, and of how to use their voice. Do this by modeling it for them and talking with them about it on a daily basis. Your kids are our future!
Love yourself and your kids enough to be the person they turn to when they need someone most.
Lots of Light,
Candice T . Aguirre