How to trust yourself, trust your child
Updated: Oct 17, 2019
"If you want peace in the world go home and love your family’"- Mother Teresa
I am definitely not an expert in parenting, with no medical background or a degree in psychology. I am simply a mother of five gorgeous, fun-loving girls, three of whom are now adults in their 20’s and a 17 and a 13-year-old. I have a French mother and an English father. I was brought up in England and left when I was 18. I moved to Chicago and travelled around the States where I met my French husband. A few years later we moved to Bordeaux in the South West of France where all our girls were born. When our eldest was 12 and youngest was 1 we manifested a life long dream to move to Australia on the East Coast of NSW – to the beautiful community of Mullumbimby.
Throughout my life, I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time around children, observing other people's children and working alongside children in a Montessori School.
There are a lot of things in life I have no defined opinion on. I feel everything is possible and the more I think I know the less I truly know.
However, one consistent thread of interest that has come fairly naturally to me is children and their well-being. What I am referring to is the way in which we interact and influence our children. As we all know, the impact parents, teachers and adults have on these young beings is monumental.
We have a huge responsibility to create those healthy relationships with our children at a very early age to ensure we are evolving into a more loving society.
I know our left-brain society likes facts and figures. But what I am writing about isn't laden with scientific research on the latest discoveries on child psychology and development - I’ll leave this to the experts. Obviously, we live in an era where the multitude of information and resources on child psychology and parenting are endless with every point of view possible. What I am attempting to share is based on my own personal experience, with all its flaws, of what seems to me to be some of the essential elements that allow children to thrive.
To start with, having five kids, I decided long ago to make my life as SIMPLE as possible. Filled with simple pleasures with lots of space to just ‘be’ with my kids. Undoubtedly, we all have our commitments, jobs, and obligations. But we also like to ‘complicate’ our existence. We feel obligated to fill every waking hour with something tangible that will bring our children a better lifestyle. Like an additional material object or activity to ensure our kids are grabbing every opportunity. And we want it all ‘now’, if not, we feel like our children are missing out. Instead of conforming to societal norms and expectations, why not follow our own intuition of what feels right for our children.
What kids truly want, particularly of a young age, is to play and explore!
My motto is ‘do less’ so kids have more space to ‘be’. This doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t follow their interests. Plus, they will have plenty of time, as they get older, to explore special interests. My idea is to find a balance by saying ‘no’ to some things to create more space.
So simplicity requires letting go and appreciating the present moment with our kids.
So what does it mean to follow our intuition?
For me, it is trusting my inner knowing of what’s right at any given moment. And sometimes, of course, I don’t know, which is fine too. What I am seeking to create is an authentic connection with myself and thus to my children.
How do we do this?
There are many ways to go about it, such as meditation, deep breaths, observing nature to quieten the mind and find an inner calm. The aim for me is to be ‘present’ so I am a more conscious parent, in awareness of the way I’m communicating and interacting with my children.
In the beginning, I think my initial desire to have children was a longing for a deeper loving connection with another human being. Clearly, with time I became aware that my children were definitely not here to fulfil my lack of self-love. My children were never meant to make me feel whole or fill an inner void. That’s my job and it’s also my job to give my children the ‘space’ to become all that they can become - with the least amount of interference and baggage as possible.
With the arrival of our first child, it was certainly an unpredictable voyage into the unknown. Even if my husband and I thought we were prepared, we inevitably tripped and stumbled throughout parenthood. We’ve constantly adapted to new situations with the uniqueness of each child and in a world of perpetual challenges.
However, there are things that have helped make our lives easier:
giving our child ample space to explore who they are,
to be as present as possible with our child and ourselves,
to embrace every aspect of who they are.
More ease and grace transpired in my life when I decided to take the pressure off of becoming that ‘perfect’ parent I so deeply desired to be. Or at least the image or identity of the perfect parent I wanted to project. Instead, I learnt to accommodate my imperfections. In fact, those imperfections have been my greatest allies in my transformation as a parent. Dr Shefali says: “be unfazed by your own imperfections then the child embraces imperfection as a fact of existence”.
Over the years, I have accepted that I am ‘good enough’ just the way I am, as I continually attempt to do my best with what I know. What has helped to accept myself is a sufficient dosage of ‘self-love’. This self-appreciation also allowed me to deepen my trust of my inner knowing to find answers. Rather than listening to people around me whose references were often partisans of the old paradigms of raising children. I believe it’s not because society has been ‘educating’ children a certain way for decades and that its approach is deemed ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ that we have to abide by it.
Like most things in life, I have found parenting an ever-changing chaotic roller coaster ride that has enriched my life like nothing else. As it pushed my boundaries to the very limits so that I could become more of who I truly am.
Of course, the dream is that one day we will raise children that carry the least amount of baggage into adulthood. So that we have a world filled with as many self-loving beings as possible. Loving beings who radiate their energy to others. These children may not necessarily outwardly change the world as activists, politicians or leaders, but influence the world around them through the power of their self-love and kindness. As Paul Tillich says “All love eventually becomes help.”
To achieve this, my task as a parent was to shed as much light as possible on my own childhood wounds, those insecurities that conditioned my reactions, choices, and beliefs. Hopefully today, I have more awareness of this conditioning to not project it onto my children, as much as I did in the beginning. However, when I do slip up, then I talk about it with my kids – ‘I am sorry I responded that way, I was feeling tired and grumpy because … please forgive me’. I know it can be an almighty task, but what a gift to give to our child if we bring more awareness to those negative reactions.
Thankfully, our children have the capacity to forgive us for our errors - if we are willing to admit to them. We merely need to give our children our wholehearted loving support, while growing alongside them.
One of the fundamental elements for me to raising fulfilled children is to take things as they come, ‘moment to moment’. And if something’s not working, then I change my perspective, as there are always new ways to ameliorate how I parent.
The key elements for me are:
to be present
to keep it simple
to be patient
to honour and love myself
to consistently tune into my thoughts and emotions (what am I projecting?)
to be as honest with myself and my child as possible
to LISTEN to my child
to pick my battles
to follow my child’s natural progression
As you can see, most of these elements are about ‘us’, the parents, not so much about the child. Because whatever we are feeling and projecting determines how the child feels and behaves.
Like most parents, I am fully conscious of the immense responsibility we have to our children to be in our integrity. I am forever grateful to my children who have provided me with considerable opportunities to evolve as a parent and as a person. Without a doubt, having children has challenged me to my core. The challenges we’ve faced and overcome together have produced immense rewards. Thanks to my girls, I have understood the true meaning of 'LOVE'.
I am going to write regular articles on Sada’s blog, sharing my experience with our girls, if there are any subjects you are interested in talking about, let me know.
Love and gratitude to the wonderful parents you are.
Written by Coco
Quote from Barbara Coloroso
Life messages to your child
I believe in you
I trust in you
You are listened to
You are cared for
You are important to me
I know you can handle this