Question: I am a mother of four children and I thought that being a mother would be so filled with love and togetherness. What happened? It is about as opposite as it can get. I am exhausted and there seems to be constant arguing and very little cooperation. It has to be different than this, or at least some form of peace somewhere. Is there any hope of love? What am I doing wrong or am I doing anything right?
Answer: Expectations in life can be totally different than reality. This can throw us off and prevent us from really seeing the situation. Yet there are some key elements that we need to put into place to grow that love and peace we seek while raising our families.
These elements are: communication, trust, time spent, and our fears and how we can put them onto our children. We have children so we can learn and understand the power of unconditional love. Few relationships require as much from us as being a parent. What a growing experience this can be. And it needs to be on purpose not just occasionally when we are in the mood. You cannot become rigid believing that you have to be perfect. It means that you stay tuned into each child and learn to feel their hearts. Do not be so authoritarian that the child does not matter. Do not be so permissive that a child learns that they are the center of the universe.
Communication – A big part of communication is to LISTEN and LISTEN and LISTEN some more. If a child feels understood they will then accept a “no” easier. If you want a child to believe you then listen to them. You do not have to agree but it is imperative to try and understand. There is a free download of a diagram showing step by step a communication format that works every time. It is called “Communicating with Power” The more you practice the more it brings trust, understanding and love. Communicate clearly and directly, be an active listener, be present, pay attention to non-verbal cues, be positive and lifting.
Trust – This is a characteristic that needs to be taught by example. Be open and honest. Some things you shouldn’t share until your child is able to handle the subject matter. Yet do not instill any misunderstandings. Do not be afraid to admit you do not know all of the answers. Be sincere and genuine. The best lesson is to say you are sorry when you have made a mistake. Acknowledging your inadequacies and mistakes will form a mutual trust and will teach your children to respect and trust you. You need to be consistent, and reliable. Do what you said you would do. Do not go by mood or situation. Live your principles and let your children know what your principles are.
Time spent – This can be different for every family. For some it is to play games, do sports or play music together. Time spent together can be the glue that holds a person together in hard times. You will find that the ways your family spend time can change throughout your life. As children and parents age then family time can change also. It is just important to have the time to grow and bond. This time spent can be one-on-one or as a group. Both are important for the growth of all. It is easier to spend fun and work times together than to just preach and teach.
Quality time is when you and they are present. No multi-tasking. Just time together.
Fear – We all as humans struggle with the same fears. The fear of not being good enough and the fear of loss. These fears seem to be passed from one generation to the next. We tell our children, “Don’t do that” Or “Can’t you be like someone else”. We can also learn these fears from pears or from the media. We don’t look like the movie stars, or we aren’t as smart as the child in the next chair. Yes, they do need to learn boundaries and they do need to learn self-love in order to live in society. Our fear can teach us what our next step needs to be. We need to name our fear and even help our children to name theirs. That gives us the opportunity to learn more and it opens the opportunity to make changes that can grow a stronger relationships. It can grow stronger children and parents, specially if we share and try to understand. Your child’s fear can trigger your fear and visa versa. This makes a good topic for discussion when your child is old enough.
Parenting is a learning process. Some people are lucky in that they learn how to parent from great parents. Others aren’t so lucky. The process of life is different for us all and that is good. Learning to parent can be an amazing journey for both parent and child. Keep loving, keep saying you’re sorry, keep teaching, keep learning, that is what the journey is all about. The speed to arrive is not as important as the direction we go.
“Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.” unknown