Parenting is hard. We love our child so deeply and we want what’s best for them. Trying to show up consistently as your best self, managing your stress and emotions and being able to help your child through their stress and emotions, takes a lot of effort all the time. And it changes from stage to stage. I’ve found that that parenting teenagers is a very different experience. There are less physical demands but more emotional ones. There are days when you might feel like you’re failing or that parenting is so difficult. We’ve all been there.
In one of my more challenging moments, I tried something different. If you’re interested, you can listen to the whole story here, it’s actually a touching story.
Essentially, I wanted to focus on changing the way I approach parenting. More specifically, how I approach my own perspective and my own thoughts, rather than my parenting style. Of course many strategies can help, and I’ve used most of them in different ways at different times, but this time I wanted the focus to be on me. How to handle myself better in those challenging moments.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
Relive the good moments
As parents, we want to help our kids learn, grow and become better people. In efforts to teach, it often sounds instead like criticizing. Spend more time reminiscing and reliving the good moments of connection and bonding. You’ll be able to find joy and your child will hear more of your positive words.
Focus on the bond
Science tells us that we can savour the moments of connection in our relationships by focusing on the bond of when our child needed us, or when we felt loved and helpful to our children. It can soothe our insecurities and facilitate deeper connection.
It’s not always easy to stay in the moment and be mindful. And our minds are wired to remember the stress. If you’re having a nice interaction with your child, immerse your senses as much as you can. How do you feel, what do you see, smell, hear? What does it look like in this moment? Take a mental photo of this moment so that you can remember it more easily.
Write a love letter
Kids read so much. As parents, we can write a love letter or journal to our kids telling them about our memories with them, favourite moments, family traditions and more. It’s a fun and creative way to share a keepsake with them that they will read over and over again.
I started doing what I now call Intentional Journaling. I had a goal or intention for this journaling practice, it was to maintain a warm and calming attitude towards my kids, even under moments of stress. In particular, I noticed that when I managed my own stress, I was better able to help them with theirs.
I’ve tried journaling in the past. I used to think of it as a way to sit and stay present and become more aware of your thoughts. But I created this one because I was trying to connect with my kids, to reprogram my own stress so that I didn’t take it out on them, to stay present and focused on the bigger picture. I found that it worked for all of that and actually so much more.
You can get your own copy of the Connected Parent Journal HERE