As a mother, one of the things I struggle with the most is making sure I give my kids the best chance possible emotionally. Something as simple as a passing comment can have lasting effects on a child and poor emotional habits are easily adopted as well. Finding the balance needed to keep my emotional baggage (and others as well) off of my children has been a very direct focus of my parenting mantra. To be fair, I have had my wins and losses with this. We all are going to make mistakes and say or do things we wish our kids had not witnessed. Still, my parenting North Star has always been to go back to this and I do my best.
Because I have had emotional challenges passed on to me with my divorce and being reunited with my birth brothers, this is not necessarily easy. Some parents are able to just be Mary Poppins all day long without much effort (or so I have heard) but not this girl. I have my swings and challenges like most moms.
So how do I go about doing this? How do I learn to keep my emotional baggage….well…mine? How do I keep it from affecting my beautiful children? Conceding the occasional mistakes, here are some tips that work for me:
Always take a moment before speaking
This is something that takes time to stick. You have to fake it to make it. In other words, constantly be thinking about pausing for a few seconds before you speak. Do it with everyone and you might be surprised at the things you prevent coming out of your mouth. It is vital with your kids, however, because we should always be measured about what we say to them. Pause for a moment, consider your words and then speak. It is a habit worth forming.
Resist the comparisons
When you look at your kids, you are bound to see little miniature versions of yourself. Kids are built that way and they learn to be who they are from your example. In fact, you are probably going to see a ton of yourself when you were little in them. If so, make a note of it and keep it to yourself unless it is positive. Sometimes we see negative things through the lens of our experiences and those can cloud things. Your kid is an individual that may or may not end up just like you. Don’t force your will on them through comparisons because they are destined to feel as though they came up short. You have to learn to be yourself to survive in this world….not someone else.
Make sure you get vacations … even if they are for five minutes
Mommies must have their moments. That quiet cup of Java while the kids nap…the blissful moments of a hot bath after the kids have gone to bed….
You get the idea.
Without these moments, you are destined to fall down on your faculties and blab something you normally never would. Take advantage of the tiny moments that life affords you to be quiet and be still. It is manna for a momma.
Revel in the uniqueness of your kid
One of the most cleansing things for me as a parent is the feeling of a do-over. We all occasionally wish we could start over on something. My daughters all represent a new start. Through our kids, we get to start over in some ways and that is wonderful. While still allowing their lives to be theirs, we can still wonder and marvel at how individualized our kids really are. By focusing on the things that makes them unique, I can let go of some of my emotional baggage. Somehow, it doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as it once did.
Kids are resilient and are capable of huge things. If we keep their eyes on the sky and looking towards their dreams and aspirations, they will be very unlikely to pick up the bad little habits we might have. Remember that your example is the best gift you can give them. Most of all, never make excuses when you are wrong with them. Take those moments and turn them into learning opportunities. It is a wonderful chance to model how it needs to be done.