Here’s why: our notion of ‘perfect parent’ is oftentimes based on the pre-existing belief of how things should be. Culture plays a huge part in that belief system, and so do our personal experiences.
In the context of pandemic and with all the stressors & challenges that came in the past nine months -our old notions of what “perfect parenting” is needed to be seriously reconsidered.
I feel fortunate for having been on the ‘perfect parenting reconsideration' path for years before COVID hit. Yet, it did test me, my sanity, and my relationship with my daughter. Here are the ultimate survival tips:
To sort out the priorities ask A LOT of questions. Here are some of them to get you started:
Is it more important for me to have my child sit through 6hrs of online schooling, while melting her brain (and mood), OR is her healthy mind more important to me?
Is it more important that my 10 year old spent more time doing more homework - busywork to catch-up with school time, than just having a walk in the park?
Which is more important: my relationship with my child OR me proving that I'm right? Ask yourself this especially after asking your child for the 20th time in an hour to pay attention to the computer on a Friday afternoon....
Which is more important: that my child got a break from a computer a the end of the day, OR that she participates in 2 additional hours of ballet history (after 8hrs online already)?
Which is more important: my relationship with my child or pleasing teachers and/or school system?
Is it more important to simply do the best that my child could, instead of trying to push for more in during challenging days
Is the school system that we're part of best for my child’s future AND my family's current needs?
The point here is that we cannot keep doing what we used to do because the world is not what it used to be. Doing the same thing but expecting different results now would be considered beyond insanity. However, we are so attached to “the way” we parent that sometimes we blind ourselves from seeing the truth. We can’t keep parenting in the same way we did previous years, when kids were at school, we had alone time, adult time, and better budgets.
I’ve worked with many moms over the years, and regardless of culture, economic background, and even upbringing -they all want to be the best moms and to help their children succeed.
In the context of COVID life, we’ve seem to have lost the way of how we can achieve that goal. Because after all, if we fail this one goal, it will be the one which we probably would never get over.
COVID made everything acute. It brought out a lot of stuff we needed to work on. I can almost guarantee it that your kids mirrored the issues you were experiencing (just in a kids’ sort of way.)
For some it was lack of structure, and for some it was time management. Me and time don’t get a long. For nearly 40 years I’ve tried to ‘master’ it and it always ended up winning. When shut-down came hurling around the corner, whatever little concept of time I had before then, had completely disappeared. Minutes became hours, hours became days, and then it was 6 months after. Yet, I was expected to make an example for my child. So, naturally, I fought that concept. There were a lot of teaching moments -i.e. ‘don’t do what I do’ moments.
The best moment, however, is when we finally stop fighting it, sit our kids down, tell them the truth, and ask the child to be our partner in learning.
At the personal level, I know how far off this process is from what many cultures and upbringing have taught us! As an adult, you never show weakness to kids -otherwise, you’re doomed for life; your kids won’t respect you; your kids won’t fear you; your kids will never listen to you; and the best one -you will totally loose control.
Thankfully, we don't live in the same world our ancestors were raised in. So we can wash the fear of ‘parenting in the wrong way’ out of our head and do what is right: assume that your child has access to even more wisdom than us, and that by being honest with our kids, we would only strengthen our relationship with them.
The cliche that came around with pandemic was the saying of “we’re in this together.” Yet, more family units started to fall apart, and more relationships began to break. What I want to remind you, awesome parents, is that you and your kids are in this parenting business together. You can’t parent without your kids. Kids can’t be parented without parents. We need each other for this ‘job’ and it is up to us to make it harmonious or hazardous.
Here are three beautiful things that can come out of the above process:
Conquering challenges with love and care, instead of screaming and frustration.
Failing AND succeeding together. Supporting each other because everyone's success matters.
Making it through toughest time of your life and learning a new lesson!
When we reconsider what ‘perfect parent’ really means, what we’re really doing is we’re reconsidering what our priorities are for ourselves and our children. We step back and consider whether the way we used to do something is not working. We use the emotional intelligence of our children and our relationship with them as the marker for how we are really doing as parents.
This is probably the most difficult and most courageous step any parent can take. Breaking down the old ways, truly paying attention and listening to their kids' souls.
One last piece of wisdom:
Kids don’t lie and they are not lazy. They give us feedback on who we are in the way that they know how. We just need to re-learn to listen.
HAPPY PARENTING AMAZING PARENTS! REMEMBER: YOU ARE ENOUGH!
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