Early on in parenthood, my own perfectionism and “mommy guilt” ran rampant when planning events, from my children’s first birthdays to a family excursion to Walt Disney World. I often relied on my children’s emotional states to inform me whether I was parenting “correctly” and sought validation from them and other external sources rather than from within my heart.
On the first Disney World trip, I lectured them about conforming to what was (to them, barely toddlers) a literally unattainable behavioral norm. We had meltdowns galore. Everybody was unhappy! But time and my personal growth process have been excellent teachers. I have learned that my “perfect” family experience is one filled with an abundance of love and understanding.
Byron Katie’s concept of “The Work” or “loving what is” has taught me to take a grace-filled and compassionate approach to parenting. We take rainy days, cancelled sports events, even pandemics, as-is, and we find ways to appreciate life in spite of its difficulties. If we can have patience with those often severe inconveniences, how much more patience, love, and compassion we should have for ourselves and our children!
Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children is an inspiration to me. She often discusses the need to embrace the pain of life in her work. Every “bad” experience, even in parenting — especially in parenting — is actually a learning experience divinely tailored to suit our unique needs. Embrace the pain.
Your kids are always going to teach you lessons in life; your job is to show up for that lesson and develop as a result. This is part of growth. You’re on the right track!
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