Parenting is an incredibly daunting undertaking. Most of us had no inkling about what we were getting into when we decided to become a parent. We might have had some notion, however it was likely just a superficial one.
Parenting can be simultaneously glorious and painful. The highs are exquisite and the lows gut-wrenching. So, how can we respond to the difficult times we encounter with love for both ourselves and our children?
The answer to that question dictates that we allow for some distance between us and the problem, that we somehow become an observer for a bit. When we look at our situation with objectivity and with less emotion, we gain clarity about the actions of our child and about our typical reactions to them. Viewing the situation with love instead of fear gives us a new perspective, one that envelops both us and our child with compassion and acceptance. Let's look at some examples about how we can view parenting challenges with love. How do we react when:
A three-year old has many tantrums at home and at preschool?
We worry about a child with special needs?
We are fearful and angry about a child with an addiction?
We are disappointed at our grown children who make choices we do not respect?
These challenges span a multitude of ages and developmental stages. They may greet us at differing periods in our parenting journey however, these challenges and all of those that we face have a common theme. They are asking us to treat ourselves and our children with love and acceptance. They are challenging us to move beyond fear and worry into a place where we and our children accept own gifts of free will and responsibility. They are encouraging us to practice a form of loving detachment in order to motivate our child to take control over their own lives and not assume the role of victim.
We can respond to these challenges with love by trying to understand and accept what our child is going through, putting ourselves in their shoes. We ask ourselves how we can help, guide and provide support without enabling our child (which is a very fine line) and then we do so with love and compassion. We detach enough from the situation to know that our child has to work some things out on their own, without our interference, to really grow and own the solution to their problems. We give them the space enough to do so, understanding that our efforts may solve the problem more quickly without it being better for them in the long run. And we love them and love ourselves, knowing we are all doing our best, and that our best changes with time and insight.
Although it may not be perfect, acceptance of a situation without becoming attached to a specific outcome is the key to happiness.