Never before has parenting and adulting been so complicated! Society continues to have expectations that twist into “should” or “must have”. With the ever present competitiveness within our communities, it seems that parents are pressured to adhere to so many limiting rules and beliefs that create unnecessary stress.
Although hearing positive stories can be helpful, many opinions and experiences can make little allowance for differences of parenting methods which actually sit within a normal range of dissimilarity. By using our gut intuition we can more accurately decide what is useful for ourselves and our families rather than being told what to do.
Instant gratification has also become a norm for many adults and children, and as a result our children developing expectations of how to survive life unrealistically. They are in danger of arriving at adulthood under-prepared for real life scenarios. We can help our children to prepare by adding to their innate wisdom with realistic discussion on a few basic guidelines:
1. Nobody has all the answers
We do not have the answers for everything. All of life’s stages are new experiences. Life is a time of discovery and adventure. We do not need to follow the herd or feel obligated to do the same as everyone else for fear of not being “normal”. Allow yourself to find out things without pressure.
2. Everybody is a student
Expecting perfection and knowing all the answers results in a feeling of inadequacy with increasingly reduced confidence by discovering appropriate preparation has not been achieved for life’s challenges. This is uncomfortable and avoidable. Wanting to be a student and discovering how learning occurs is key to everyone’s success. Accept that life is based on being a learner at all levels of living and enjoy the process. Appreciate our journey of learning with patience, enjoyment and reality. There is no shame in saying “I don’t know but I would like to find out”.
3. Forget the trends
To be a young parent today with expectations of the flawless family, a settled child and a drone like perfection creates terrible pressure. Supplying expensive equipment from the best stores and following routines dictated by people who do not know your personal circumstances is exhausting!! We are not meant to be clones of one another. So why would we put upon ourselves and each other, the notion that we must measure up to a list of expectations from others at new mothers group, kinder, the school gate and beyond. Being without can also teach valuable lessons. Every adult is unique and every child an individual. What works with one may not work with another. You have most of the answers intuitively. Even if given professional assistance, it is still good to note whether outcomes feels peaceful in your gut.
4. Children love to learn
Our children live in a world where problem solving and intuitive smarts are a pre-requisite for overcoming life challenge. Having goals and aims are paramount to good health but so is developing problem solving skills, intuitive self-care and understanding that it takes time to learn. We can assist our children to become aware, confident and independent without losing the joy of childhood. Encourage the notion that it is okay not to know things!! Show them that we as adults do not have all the answers and it is fun to find out answers together. This will create a thinking child and a smart adult.
5. Judgement is out. Discernment is in.
Judgement is comparison and feels negative and painful. Discernment is sensing that something else is better suited to the individual. Get to know the real child and their personality. Our children are unique, beautiful, and perfect as they are. We are aiming to assist them to be the loveliest version of themselves whatever that looks like. Children benefit from knowing how to accept their own differences and individual make up, and those of others. Each day is a learning curve and gentle suggestion is appropriate in moments of mistakes.
6. Adults can love learning
Life is based on being a learner at all levels of living. Enjoy the process and begin your journey of learning with patience, enjoyment and reality. Without rush, judgement and expectations, we can remove the stress and pressure from ourselves and our kids.
7. Being too literal
Although having a broad guide for gauging how your child is faring in development such as first steps or exam results is useful, it is not productive when taken too literally. What if we were instead to guide by example how to use manners, respect for self and others and demonstrate problem solving, thereby allowing our children to be students of life and navigate their own way through with healthy boundaries of encouragement?
8. Find the family joys
Share the skills of love, respect, sharing, caring, loyalty, honesty and trying to the best of their ability as a basic focus. Allow children to become their unique selves simply by being intuitive and creative. Having quiet, loving family times and restful moments removes the incessant striving for more and more. These basics don’t require funds, stress or pressure but rather they develop with together time and connection. Things do not have to be complex. Life is not perfect, tidy and neatly packaged into a list of accomplishments that our children must produce. Be realistic. Be a bit messy. Simplify with back to basics and leave competition out. A new born baby feels loved by the kisses on the cheek not the expensive pusher he is pushed around in. The teenager feels valued by being listened to not by expectations of greatness.
Giving ourselves permission to be a student at all stages of life enables us to be able to learn with accepting ears rather than try to prove that we know something. Learning is a wondrous thing and enables confidence to ask questions and explore. This makes life exciting and enjoyable. By feeling free not knowing things, we will in fact solidify our problem solving skills and create ability to survive all manner of things.