Pause that Perfection
Think your child needs a perfect parent? Think again.
Kids need so many things in order to grow, but a perfect parent isn’t one of them. In fact, a quest to be perfect can often have the opposite effect. So much of parenting is modelling, and we need to show our kids what unconditional love looks like – in our relationships with them, but also in our relationship with ourselves.
Instead of focusing on perfection, we need to turn to striving for love. No adult looks back on their childhood wishing their mum had spent more time designing professional level cupcakes and ensuring there were rooms filled with matching pillow shams. What we want to look back on, is a home full of love.
So, once we accept there is no perfect parent, no perfect child, and definitely no perfect family, we can focus on the important thing. Love. Each family unit is unique in its own way, and love is all that matters.
Here are 6 areas you can work on in order to be a ‘good enough’ parent – a loving parent.
1. Let Go
Try to let go of all the ways you need to be different before you are good enough in your own eyes. That voice inside that says ‘I should be a little thinner, a little nicer, a better mother or father. I am such an idiot, I am so dumb, I should have known better’ is of no use to you. Kick it to the curb.
Work on loving yourself unconditionally. That means with no conditions, as in you love yourself exactly as you are, faults and all. But how, you say?
Sometimes if you are healing from damaging relationships or a difficult childhood, counselling is a good option. But we can all practice self-love through focusing on our strengths, not our weaknesses. And by looking at any issues as opportunities to grow, rather than as fatal flaws.
2. Forgive Yourself
You made a mistake. That’s not because you stopped striving for perfection, it’s because you’re human. We all make them, all the time. Really.
Can you still have a happy responsible fabulous life and be a good parent?
YES! The key is to forgive yourself, so you can accept your imperfections graciously. That makes it easier to admit when you mess up and to make amends.
It’s hard to be compassionate to your child when you’re beating yourself up inside. Just commit to doing better and take a step in the right direction.
A forgiveness practice can heal that tendency and increase our compassion for ourselves. Every religion and wisdom tradition has one. My personal favourite is the Hawaiian (Ho’oponopono) prayer: “I’m sorry…Please forgive me…I love you…Thankyou”
Find a prayer or phrase that works for you as a first step to forgiveness. It is actually harder to forgive ourselves than anyone else, and we all need practice. Try speaking it (in your mind) even if you aren’t quite sure what you are asking forgiveness for. Just forgive it all!! See it as repairing any damage. Speaking from experience, using this little mantra for a few minutes daily is very powerful.
3. Choose Love
Every choice is between love and fear. Choose love as often as you can. If you pay attention you’ll notice the constant questioning… should I have said no, should I have been so harsh on him, should I have given him more freedom, should I have stopped cleaning to play a game with my child, should I have left the dishes and gone and had a pillow fight?
Your life is a sum of your choices, you’ll make bad ones, we all do, but those mistakes have already been made and we have a chance to make better, more loving ones each day we are awake to our habits. You can turn the love ratio around, so start today and make a new future by choosing love.
4. Lead with the Heart
The only way to stop the vicious cycle of negative thoughts is to shift out of those thoughts and onto something positive.
Next time you notice a negative thought about yourself, try to Stop, Drop (the thought) and Breathe. That deep breath unplugs you from the tape loop in your thoughts. Now you have a choice to change those thoughts. Put your hand on your heart and breathe love into your heart. Use a saying if it helps, something like “I am more than enough, exactly as I am” “I am not my thoughts” Consciously choose to feel love and watch your whole sense of well-being shift.
5. Take Responsibility
This comes back to parenting as modelling. It’s important to take responsibility for any mistakes you have made or problems you’ve created. When you take responsibility and own your mistakes, your child will too.
Focus on solving the problem you have created, not on blame, shame and guilt. When you can forgive yourself, you’ll find a way to repair any rifts with your child and strengthen your relationship. When you acknowledge you messed up, apologise, and work to repair the issue, you are being an incredible role model and your child will learn some important life lessons.
Appreciation and gratitude interrupt negative thoughts and give you access to more love.
Practice showing your appreciation daily. Maybe you can share at the dinner table what you appreciate or are grateful for in each of your children, or you could write your gratitude at the end of each day in a journal, or it can be as simple as changing your thoughts. In a moment where you notice you are criticizing yourself , change gears and find something to appreciate.
If it’s challenging to find something to appreciate, start with “Even though…”
- “Even though I was cranky this morning, I changed my state by putting on some music.”
- “Even though I sometimes lose my temper, more and more I am patient with my child.”
- “Even though I get annoyed with my lack of commitment, I am aware and becoming more disciplined.”
- “Even though I’m tired at the end of the day I’m so grateful I have my kids, my home, my health, a bed to sleep in and a fresh start tomorrow.”
The goal is expanding your heart and sharing more love in the world. If you fill yourself with love, it will automatically overflow to everyone around you.
Go ahead. Nurture yourself with infinite tenderness. Let your heart stretch past it’s boundaries. There is nothing you need to change or do to deserve love. You’re already more than enough. Use these practices daily and you’ll notice that you’re healing your ability to love unconditionally. Watch your life and your parenting transform!
From one mum to another, there is no love like a mother’s love!
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