Parenting Questions and Answers
What skills are essential to parenting the youth of today?
Parenting with choice, trust, love, and clarity are skills that many parents want, but do not feel consistently. Part of this is simply practice, while another part is actually seeking out the skills that are within the parent, waiting to be discovered.
Exercising choice is something we do all day, everyday. Many parents feel torn between their choices and the desires of their children and many feel they do not have choices. Regardless of where we’ve been we can, in any moment, make a new choice about how we think, feel, and act. This is monumental to not only surviving, but thriving in our world. As parents claim the power to choose, they provide valuable life examples of this power to their children. When a child realizes they have choices in life and that they can choose their response, goals, and aspirations they do not have to live a life feeling let down or like life has happened to them. They are the co-creator of their lives through choice.
Trusting our children is essential to them trusting themselves, which will save them from harm in many situations as well and allow them to grow when things don’t go as planned. When we trust that they can handle their lives and that they can seek adequate help when necessary, we allow them the room to be who they are. A parent’s true trust that the child is inherently successful and valuable simply because he or she is alive affirms the child’s worth, allowing the child to also believe in his or her abilities (even if they are developing).
Love that is not based on conditions goes hand in hand with trust. Parents may need to start by loving themselves without conditions before they are able to fully do so with their children. This can start by really examining what we judge about ourselves and our children. The next step is to look at what we judge and find the gift in it – what can we appreciate? Then put our focus there. If we can’t find anything to appreciate, we can find a way to accept what is as we move forward.
Clarity allows a parent to see through the fog of our busy lives. Knowing what you want for your family, trusting you can create it, and taking action accordingly all comes from clarity. This can be humbling also because it opens an opportunity for parents to really embrace their power while accepting the current circumstances of life. Clarity opens the door for helpful resources to pop into our experience as we ask for change. These resources often include other skill building avenues such as parent education, emotional, spiritual, or life assistance.
What are some ways parents can gain clarity about how they really want to parent when questions arise?
Make a list! There are so many “ways” to parent and so many people telling parents that this way or that way will yield appropriate behavior that parents can feel overwhelmed. We all have an inner compass, if you will, that guides us. This compass points to the Highest Good for All and when we learn to trust it the way to parent becomes clear.
One way to get started is to draw a line down the center of a piece of paper, label one side “What I don’t want” and the other “What I do want.” Start listing what you don’t want in your parenting experience. It could be things you don’t want to do (yell, nag, spank) or what you would prefer your child not do (whine, lie, hit). Exactly opposite write down what you want instead. If you don’t know, take a few moments to imagine the desired alternative.
Since the mind is very powerful, the next step is to bring your focus to what you do want when faced with the other and be open to ideas and resources to help bring it about. You may hear about parenting classes that could help you awaken skills you didn’t know you had, you may feel like trying something new with your child in a usually frustrating moment, or you might simply notice the tension dissolve by changing your focus. The key is in taking the time to clarify what you truly want, from your heart and then be open to it coming in whatever form that takes.
How can parents experience more pleasure, peace, and satisfaction and less frustration, worry, and anger in the parenting role?
The way we view our role as parents is the first place to start when we want to change how we feel about it. Our thoughts and beliefs directly relate to how we are feeling and acting. Parenting is laden with sacrificial responsibility and stress for many, but it doesn’t have to be! We can learn to focus on what we do appreciate as well as ways of experiencing the negative emotions with awareness so we don’t have to dwell in the perceived negativity.
A couple of small changes will bring a noticeable change in the level of stress and pleasure in the parenting experience.
First, where is your focus? On the bills, the demanding job, the child’s tantrums or shirked chores? Change it. Look for the positive and make a list daily of what you appreciate. When you feel overwhelmed take a few minutes to review the list or even better in the moment notice what there is to appreciate. There is always something! It makes a difference.
Second, what areas do you need to work on? We can put ourselves last in the areas of spirituality or emotional well being and it serves no one. What can you do to support yourself in the ways you think, feel, and act? Would it be of service to you and your family for you to spend time learning relaxation techniques, exercising regularly, getting out in nature, enjoying a hobby, talking to someone who can assist you in releasing old patterns, or deepening your connection within? We are the example for our children and we know that. When we take the time to honor ourselves we are sharing that example with little people who also deserve the space to honor themselves in whatever unique way suits them.
How can parents feel confident in parenting, no matter what?
On one level we know that the current moment in time is all that we have. We all realize internally that our or the lives of our children can end in a flash. Instead of avoiding that reality because of the fear and grief it elicits, we can embrace every moment we have and seize the opportunity to grow in times of question and heartache.
When something happens with our children or in family life that feels awful initially it is important for everyone to have the space to process it in their own way. We do not need to manage, fade, or fix anyone’s pain. Variance of emotion is part of life and as we allow ourselves to feel emotion without judging it we give permission for our children to do the same. We may look to a Higher Power and within our own hearts for the strength to move through pain and see the possible gifts in any experience.
Life always gives us learning opportunities. Parents who embrace the worst with this perspective give the gift of clear perspective to their children. If we hold onto the pain of failure, abuse, and other misfortune without looking for the possible gift or positive we miss the opportunity to grow. I do not say this from an unwounded heart. As a survivor of sexual and domestic abuse, I know very well the pain that can be experienced. It is in the healing that we can forgive and let go, knowing that we can live life in each moment with appreciation for the purpose of living fully.
Parents can continually support themselves through thinking positively about themselves, realizing their own innate potential and abilities – and using them! They can do the same with their children and encourage positive self talk to anchor into the inherent Truth we all hold within – that we valuable and have a purpose in life.
As parents support themselves and their families and act in accordance with their own values, confidence shines from within. A lack of confidence is simply not knowing and acting in accordance with the fact that we are valuable human beings doing what we need to do, being who we are truly meant to be! It’s really that simple.
About Rainbow Recognizer
Amy Phoenix is a gentle, yet direct parenting guide and healing facilitator dedicated to sharing insights and practices to transform frustration and anger, heal the past and nurture conscious relationships – to appreciate all aspects of life. Visit her at www.innatewholeness.com.