As mothers, we give ourselves far less credit than we deserve.
We magnify our imperfections, overlook our strengths and allow comparison to steal our joy.
We’ve become conditioned to looking externally for validation and acceptance. From a young age we were taught that good girls follow the rules and that life is easier when we blend in. When we become parents there’s a set of clearly defined rules that we’re expected to follow.
Yet, as conscious parents we recognize that the ‘rules’ are flawed and we’re brave enough to break them.
As a result, the external validation we’ve been taught to crave vanishes and rather than being rewarded with praise for blindly following the mainstream, we’re challenged, criticized or judged; left feeling alone and unable to share our parenting experiences, paving the way for fear, doubt and anxiety creep in.
So, what if rather than looking to outsiders for guidance, we looked inside our own families? What if we surrendered to the lessons parenting our children can teach us about ourselves? Perhaps, if we granted ourselves a fraction of the grace and unconditional love that we extend to our children, we’d thrive.
Because, the quieter we allow the white noise of society to become, the more we’ll be able to hear the soft whispers of our own truth.
Parenting is presented as a responsibility that falls squarely on our adult shoulders, but the longer I’m a mother, the more I realise that parenting isn’t a set of strategies, it’s a relationship. It’s a simple truth that our kids are our best teachers; changing and softening us as they show us how to be the parents we needed when we were young.
I wanted to know if others felt the same way, so I asked my incredible tribe of natural parents what parenting their child had taught them most about themselves. Their answers brought tears to my eyes and their words have inspired this post I’d love it if you’d add your words of gratitude, wisdom and hope in the comments below.
So, here are a handful of lessons parenting our children can teach us (if only we let them).
1. We are worthy of love just as we are
Our kids don’t judge us; they don’t need us to be a certain size, earn a massive income or make Pinterest-worthy crafts. They love us just as we are and because of who we are. For many of us, myself included, it is a love we haven’t felt before. It is pure and given with reckless abandon. It requires vulnerability to wholly accept such innocent and unconditional love, to feel worthy of it.
So, if you feel yourself shying away, remember that our kids aren’t seeking perfection; they’re craving connection. Perfection is impossible to connect with; it is like a smooth wall that can’t be climbed. Don’t be scared to show your kids your rough edges; give them something to grab onto and laugh through life’s messiness together. Let them show you just how worthy of their love you truly are.
2. We have to parent ourselves first
Our kids have an ability to see into our souls like nobody else can. What do they see? The unfinished work from our own childhoods, which is exactly why our kids can push our buttons so easily. Many of us didn’t receive what we needed as children to grow into emotionally intelligent adults. It’s not our parents fault – they most likely didn’t receive what they needed from their parents either. We all do the best we can with the information and ability we have at the time.
“Parenting isn’t about raising a child, it is about raising a parent.” Dr Shefali Tsabury
Our kids can help us complete the unfinished work from our own childhoods. But, it isn’t easy and most parents refuse to do it and so history repeats itself. Yet, if we can lean in, be vulnerable and face discomfort, no amount of therapy can compare to the lessons our children awaken in our unconscious. If this is something you are facing at the moment (like me), I highly recommend reading The Conscious Parent by Dr. Shefali Tsabury as well as listening to her interview on The School of Greatness podcast.
3. We are more patient and empathic than we realize
We all hold limiting beliefs, many of which we began believing as impressionable little kids. So often, I wish I could go back in time and advocate for my four-year-old self to prevent these mistruths taking root and shaping the trajectory of my life. In lieu of a time machine though, motherhood is proving to be the next best thing for shattering limiting beliefs. The truth is that we are all braver, stronger, more patient and empathetic than our pre-mother selves would have us believe.
As conscious parents, we have an advantage as nothing fuels patience and diffuses frustration like a deep level of understanding why our children do the things they do. Knowledge fosters empathy, which gives rise to patience, giving us the resilience we need to make it through the challenges thrown our way. When your patience wanes, focus on building understanding and empathy and it will return.
4. We need to slow down
It is impossible to be in the presence of a young child without noticing their uncanny ability to be fully present in the moment. To be completely immersed in one task. In our age of distraction, notifications and updates, if we are committed to connection, it is our children who give us the best motivation to slow down, breathe and create the white space our souls are screaming for.
“Time is not refundable. Use it with intention.” Unknown
Childhood is not a race to the finish line. It is not about achieving, it is about thriving. Our kids don’t need to be enrolled, entertained, scheduled, supervised, coached or assessed in an adult-directed activity to be happy. Let’s let our kids remind us that we are all just big kids. That life is better when we don’t take ourselves so seriously. And that we value silliness and spontaneity. Let’s have the courage to let our little Zen Master’s lead the way and protect us from society’s time thieves that only keep taking more and more from our families.
5. We can stand firm with grace in our convictions
Swimming upstream as a natural parent isn’t easy my friend – I am right there with you. It takes courage to choose a different path, especially when family and friends feel that it is their right to critique or challenge your decisions. But, when those people who we have spent a lifetime seeking approval from question us, we learn how strong we really are. We learn what it takes to stand firm in our convictions.
Brene Brown describes parenting as a shame minefield. This means that your choices will unavoidably push other people’s buttons. Yet, when we can stand firm gracefully, it fuels our self-confidence, giving us a sense of individuality and freedom. Be proud of the fierce passion that lives in your soul. Let it flow into all areas of your life as we make this world a better place, one conscious mama at a time.
What would you add to this list? What has parenting your child taught you most about yourself?