Is Parenting Lifting You Up or Wearing You Down?
Posted on August 6, 2019
I can’t help but notice how the words “parenting stress” and “parenting anxiety” seem to be flying around everywhere. Lately, I’ve seen more articles, social media posts, and videos on this topic than ever before, and it truly saddens me. My biggest concern, though, is how this is impacting your kids. So let’s explore this together and see how we can improve things.
Why did you choose to become parents?
Believe it or not, most parents don’t know! Most couples say that they thought it’s what they’re supposed to do after they get married. We all tend to have a way of following human nature— as it has been for eons— so we fit in. Whether you thought about it beforehand or not, now that your kids are here, don’t you think it’s time to establish at least what you want out of parenting? After all, when we buy a car, we know we want it to get from work to home. When we buy a home, it’s because we want more space or want to invest. When we take piano lessons, perhaps it was always a dream to learn how to play the piano.
So, again, ask yourself why you chose to become a parent or now that you’re a parent, what you want for yourself out of this parenting ride. And, no, you cannot say you want your kids to be happy and positive and do good. That’s what you want for your children, not for yourself. You need to set the intention for yourself.
In my workshops, the most common answer I get—phrased in many different ways—is that first and foremost, what parents want is to have a good relationship with their kids. Okay, if I don’t get this answer from parents, I plant this intention in them. Because when all is said and done, that’s what we want from parenting, right? What would be the point of spending 18-plus years parenting children under our roof and then a lifetime—if we’re lucky enough—caring for them remotely, if we don’t have a good relationship with them?
Now ask yourself, are you honestly living this parenting intention?
If the answer is yes, you can move on to the next question below.
And If you’re not living your parenting intention, this disconnect, the lack of a good relationship with your kids, is probably at the root of your parenting anxiety and stress. You need to work on it, home in on it, and make it your life mission. The reason is simple: If you do not feel connected to your kids and do not have a good relationship with them, you will be stressed and anxious over the smallest events in their lives, or even with their mere presence. Furthermore, once your kids have flown the nest (which they will be eager to do if they feel stressed around you), there will be an added layer of guilt weighing you down. What this will do to your kids is a whole other blog post! Let me just say that if your kids feel disconnected from you, they will never be connected to themselves. They will forever be looking to fill this void with hollow friendships, social pressures, drugs, alcohol, sex, toxic relationships… need I go on?
While you digest this, explore the question below as a sure-shot resolution.
Do you and your family have down time?
If you do, congratulations! It is not easy to make down time today. Parents often ask, “What is down time?” or “Where’s the time for down time?” If you have to ask me that question, that right there is a huge red flag. But here’s an easy answer: Steal it from your device time. On the average, parents spend around seven hours a day on their devices, excluding “work” hours!
Now, I’m not asking you to spend every breathing moment of the day with your kids. All I’m saying is “Take 5” minutes each day with your kids to do no-thing. Once you discipline yourself to do this for three weeks, you will start to see priceless personal benefits and create invaluable family conversations and memories.
Why is this important? Because if you don’t know how to take down time, neither will your kids. We have brought these children into this world, and we owe them at least this much: Knowing what it feels like to just be—to not have an agenda or something to do but simply to spend time in each other’s presence. It’s this free time spent together that then fuels the relationship when we are caught up with doing things with our kids. In other words, when it comes to building connections, it’s the being that fuels the doing.
If our kids don’t know how to spend time with us doing nothing, they will not know how to spend time with themselves doing nothing. And when kids do not know how to relax and escape from the busyness of life, they will feel stressed and anxious. Down time is absolutely mandatory!
Now, let’s say you’re connected to your kids, have a great relationship with them, and spend quality time just being with them, if you’re still feeling weighed down with parenting, here’s your final question to address…
What’s your personal outlook on life?
Do your thoughts and emotions generally lean toward worry and fear? Are you concerned that one day there will be a natural disaster and our planet will be wiped out? Do you cringe at the idea of your children making wrong life decisions? Do you feel the need to constantly keep tabs on your kids or have a tendency to helicopter them? If you find yourself on this hamster wheel, you’re projecting a distrust in life itself.
We all know that what grows in our life is based on the kind of seeds we sow. If you’re planting fear and distrust in the environment that you are raising your kids in, they will never tap into the abundance of life. Trust life fully. The fact that 7 billion of us on this planet have enough air to breathe and water to drink should point us to the plenitude around us. We just have to tap into that feeling in our day-to-day life with our children.
Parenting is a delicate, transformational responsibility, designed to lift you up during the fun times and the challenging times as well. Think about the gifts that come from the challenges our children present in our lives. They help us understand our own needs and weaknesses so that we can grow from them and be better parents and people.
Parenting pushes us into growth—whether we are ready or not. And humans thrive when we are continually growing. If we are thriving, we are not just happy but joyful. If we are joyful, our faces and eyes project that energy to all those that we cross paths with. Most importantly, we bring that uplifting energy into our homes, where it will shape our children’s personalities.
So come at parenting with devotion, dedication, awe, and wonder because parenting, like life, is in constant flux—ever changing, ever growing. It is designed to lift you up no matter what is weighing you down. Through the parenting ride you can discover yourself and your highest potential. That’s the best gift you can give your children.