Ever have parenting moments when you feel like you’re failing? Me too. I have found myself staring at a kid in the wake of a meltdown thinking I wasn’t cut out for this job.
I have made resolutions to be a better parent such as: “I want to stop yelling at my kids when I’m upset.” Most have fallen to the wayside, where resolutions go to die.
I am a mother of four kids. I’m also a doula, which is essentially a parent support professional throughout pregnancy, birth, and the early days postpartum. I know well (personally and professionally) the struggle of clinging to the hope that we’re good enough parents.
Only a small percentage of the things we resolve to change get changed. There are the good intentions, but then life takes over after a few days. You fall off the “Resolution Wagon”, add “Failure to Stick to Anything” to your list of “Things to Beat Yourself Up Over”, and end up feeling worse than when you started.
What you don’t need are more resolutions. What you need are mindsets.
Before setting your mind to becoming a parenting rockstar, keep this principle in mind:
SEE IT. FEEL IT. BE IT.
When you watch a scary movie, your heart pounds, and you hide behind pillows until someone tells you it’s okay to look. While your rational mind knows the film isn’t real, your unconscious mind doesn’t! Adrenaline is released in response to perceived threat, resulting in real fear of pretend zombies.
For your goals to work, your unconscious mind (like an unruly child) needs to receive direction from your rational mind (firm parent). Pathways in your brain that connect these parts need to be created.
What needs to fuel this direction from your rational mind is INSPIRATION, which is received from your HIGHER unconscious. This is the part of you that is moved beyond words by music and gobsmacked by the beauty of a sunset.
If we have the unruly child mind and the firm parent mind, the higher unconscious is the wise elder mind, whose functions are unconditional love and connection.
Nothing sabotages your goals more than your inner critics. They are parts of you which, from past experience, believe they haven’t been invited to participate in love. You can say to yourself, “I will be a good parent” all you want, and it’s about as effective as herding cats if you’re not programming your brain to forge new pathways of healing connection.
Training the different parts of your consciousness to work cooperatively takes practice and love for what your goal seeks to achieve, for whom your goal serves, and for the goal setter (you). This is why mindset is so important.
SEE IT: State your intentions as if they are already done. Not, “I want to be a great parent,” but “I AM a great parent.” What does a great parenting moment look like to you? Your imagination is a powerful gift. Take time to “live” there for a while.
FEEL IT: Feel the goodness and freedom of that statement as you “see” it. Let it fuel your brain rather than negative feelings. Ignore the inner critics.
BE IT: While you may still believe you have lots of parenting kinks to work out, your unconscious mind is meanwhile receiving and believing the messages of freedom and joy from your imagination. . As you repeat your intentions to yourself daily WITH SEEING AND FEELING, your responses to sticky parenting situations will gradually begin to change in ways that reflect your inner awesome parent!
Make it a daily practice to see and feel your parenting intentions, and the being will follow. You will even spontaneously begin to develop goals for each resolution. Let yourself feel great about YOU. You will never be perfect. Let that go. But your children will notice your increased parental self-esteem, and that in itself is healing.
May these five mindsets transform your parenting from the inside out, proving to you what I already know: You are amazing! You’ve got this.
1) I AM a loving parent. Even if you feel like you mess up sometimes, if this message becomes embedded, you will see that most of what you do comes from love, even if some of the lenses your love filters through aren’t yet “polished”. Having compassion for yourself teaches your children to be more compassionate.
2) I AM a grateful parent. Sometimes you feel so bad about something you’ve done as a parent, you think your kids would be better off without you. But it isn’t true. You get to be with these little ones, and they love you so much. Feel gratitude for your family, warts and all.
3) I AM an effective parent. With this message nourishing your system, those moments you feel like your children are unprofessional tiny monsters who won’t get into their jammies, you will gain perspective. Instead of reacting in frustration, you will take moments to search for the most effective (and least damaging) way of dealing with the situation. You will feel more skillful, and that feels good!
4) I AM an understanding parent. We are always asking our kids, “Do you understand me?” Actively seeking first to really see and understand your kids will help them develop their skills in understanding themselves, you, and others.
5) I AM a parent who cares for him/herself. If you saw your best friend ragged, exhausted, giving everything to their children at the expense of their own dreams and well being, wouldn’t you be concerned? Take tender care of your children’s precious parent. This will not breed selfish kids. This will teach your children how to value themselves as radiant beings of joyful, balanced service to the world.
You will stray from your mindset at times. It is human nature. Forgive yourself, and like the Buddhists say with simple elegance, “begin again”.