Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a manual of some sort that was issued the moment you become a parent? Unfortunately, there is no manual that can capture all of the in’s and out’s of being a parent. Just as being a kiddo is rough, a parent’s job is equally as rough. Every day can seem like a trial and error experiment. One of the biggest questions that I get asked is, “how do I become a better parent to my child?”
At the sake of sounding like a broken record, my first response is to always stop and breathe. Give yourself permission to put the brakes on for a few moments and relax. I can appreciate that there are many moments where you are juggling: grocery shopping, talking on the phone with the cable company, keeping an eye out on your child, and checking out the date and time of your kiddo’s next soccer match. With all of this multi-tasking, though, it is vital that you take a moment for yourself so that you can regroup; burning the candle at both ends can’t last forever.
My second statement is often “it’s okay to make mistakes”. We’re all human and all are afforded the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from our mistakes. Yes, parents are essentially superheroes but even superheroes can’t be perfect 100% of the time. Accept and embrace that mistakes will happen as a parent and allow yourself the compassion to forgive yourself. In doing this, you’re not only giving yourself the grace that you deserve but you’re modeling positive self-care and self-appreciation to your child.
Taking on the responsibility of rearing a child and helping to shape your kiddo’s values and decision making skills is a tall order for anyone. Although children are always looking to you for guidance and support, they are also learning how to successfully navigate through the tough stuff. If you’ve had a crummy day at work or you and your partner are having a spat, your kiddos are watching to see how you deal with the yucky stuff. These young eyes are absorbing everything that they see and using this to help shape how they navigate through their own rough patches.
In working with youth, I often support them as they work through concepts of identity – the good old “who am I” concept. Through this, we identify the different pieces of child that create who that child is. I utilize the same concept when working with parents. We are all made up of many different pieces and possesses many different qualities and attributes that make up who we are as individuals. Yes, you’re a parent, but you’re also a human being that deserves just as much love and appreciation as every other person.
As a parent, you do hold a responsibility of providing safety, security, love, support, and guidance for your children. You also hold a responsibility to yourself as an individual. Be patient with yourself and give yourself the grace to make mistakes. Love on yourself and take time to just breathe and re-center. When things get rough, do what you need to do in order to release that stress and calm down. Lastly, find someone to talk to – a friend, your partner, a counselor. There’s no shame in admitting that we need a little extra support at times.