This video of family members spontaneously drumming makes me ridiculously happy. I don’t know if it’s the actual drumming, the spontaneity… maybe it’s just that fact that I remembered to use the phone’s video feature for a change… but it makes me laugh out loud, every time I see it.
How many of us approached parenting with all the love in a plan like this?
We know for sure that OUR children will never feel “apart” from other family members. They will always understand how very wanted they are and this will create a closeness unlike other families we know. They will be happy because we understand them so well. Their basic needs will be so well-provided for that they’ll be able to direct their energies toward passions like sports, the arts and, of course, their educations. They will excel. And, of course, this overflow of love will inspire them so much they will gladly share their prized possessions with their siblings….
That optimism is a wonderful thing and reflects the almost overpowering unconditional love that parents can feel. It’s a love that motivates us in ways that are hard to understand. It makes us want to do the impossible. It can also be a little scary and make any one of us a touch crazy.
We hover and helicopter and try to control every interaction in our children’s days. It’s almost as if we have come to believe that discomfort equals disability and that letting our kids learn from trial and error (their own — NOT ours) will bring about permanent injury or harm. Fantasy and reality don’t quite match up.
This morning I heard a woman speaking about one of her most embarrassing moments. Unfortunately for her? It was televised. (Yes, fellow introverts, my skin is crawling and I’ve got giant butterflies in my gut just from
imagining typing that.) The speaker was one of those remarkable, outgoing, super sales-y direct sales people who used the story to explain the role of failure in her life. Her embarrassing, unprepared-for-TV-moment never, ever came around again. In fact, it taught her to treat many other moments as if she were about to be beamed onto millions of screens all around the world. Good lesson, no?
What does this have to do with loving your kids? Reality isn’t always pretty and it’s probably pretty darned close to perfect. Relax.
Think about the things you know for sure. How easily did your own big lessons come to you? If you’re anything like me (and this morning’s speaker), I’ll guess at least a few of those important life lessons came as a result of a big belly flop off of life’s high diving board. Splat! Unfortunately, lots of life’s best lessons come to us that way.
To grow as parents we are required to grow as people — the lessons we model through the way we live our lives carry much more weight than the ones we try to create with rules, words or even our well-intended fantasies.
It’s painful to watch kids struggle, but let’s be realistic. Can we love them enough to put our own feelings aside? To let our kids be kids? Can we trust that our love — in all of its’ messy imperfection — is perfect enough?
Today I am a “Love Ambassador” for my online friend, Intuitive Psychologist, Dr. Debra Reble and her newest book. We’re celebrating the release of Being Love: How Loving Yourself Creates Ripples of Transformation in Your Relationships and the World just released by Inspired Living Publishing. Order your copy today and receive over 50 gifts from Debra and her community. www.BeingLoveBook.com
Like it or not, parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors occasionally embarrass the kids in our care. We don’t mean it, but our most loving intentions can become a problem, especially when attending their sporting events. Standing on the sidelines seems to make some of us to care too much — and too loudly — about their self-esteem.
Loving our kids is not a competitive sport. Rather than such intense focus on the impossible job of creating self-esteem, what’s wrong with “just” letting the littles play their sport? And explore and experience their own strengths and resilience?
Wait… did I just say that creating self-esteem for our kids is impossible?
I did. Self-esteem is an inside job. As much as we’d like to, we can’t do it for them. A child’s self-esteem grows with each successful interaction, each job well done, each goal met and every obstacle successfully overcome. Those feelings and experiences that can’t be taken away.
Over-parenting, while well-intended, can create more anxiety than it prevents.
On the way home from baseball, my son told me he felt sorry for his friend, the team’s star player. When I asked him why, he said it was “because of the way his Mom acts at the games.”
I remember thinking “Oh boy, am I in trouble. This gal is the gold standard. The Team Mom. She never misses a game or even a practice…. and she’s not cutting it?” I asked him to tell me more.
“She cheers at him for everything. It’s like she thinks finding his way to home plate for his at-bat is as big a deal as getting a hit or a big play in the field. I guess she doesn’t think he can do anything right. He’s a good player. It’s embarrassing.”
The eight-year-old boy envied by most of his teammates had told at least one of his peers that Mom’s excess cheering makes him feel self-conscious and incompetent. Maybe this over-involved, over-praising thing isn’t such a great idea after all.
Letting kids participate in team sports is a great way for them to experience successes and failures, to learn discipline and practice self-control. To simply serve as witnesses — and allow the process to be about the kids — requires adults to model many of the same skills. Maybe our littles already know we love them and are proud of them. Maybe our excessive displays of support really are just embarrassing.
Does your inner critic heckle your parenting skills from the sidelines? Want to make it stop? Check out The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head
- Study finds children with low self-esteem are often praised for personal qualities instead of efforts
- Kids With Low Self-Esteem: The Parental Praise Paradox
I know that not everyone is a mother… and not everyone still has theirs. I spent many a Mothers Day working in treatment centers, with women who were feeling guilty and sad about all of their important relationships. We used to joke about the power of a single day to help us feel like both inadequate mothers AND ungrateful daughters. It is because of them that I’ve collected some slightly different quotes to honor the nurturers in our lives this Mothers’ Day. Please feel free to leave some of your favorite quotes about mothering and nurturing in the comments.
To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow. – Maya Angelou
Biological possibility and desire are not the same as biological need. Women have childbearing equipment. For them to choose not to use the equipment is no more blocking what is instinctive than it is for a man who, muscles or no, chooses not to be a weightlifter. – Betty Rollin
Women have been taught that, for us, the earth is flat, and that if we venture out, we will fall off the edge. Some of us have ventured out nevertheless, and so far we have not fallen off. It is my faith, my feminist faith, that we will not. – Andrea Dworkin
When you’re in the thick of raising your kids by yourself, you tend to keep a running list of everything you think you’re doing wrong. I recommend taking a lot of family pictures as evidence to the contrary. — Connie Schultz
If you want to be treated like a mother, act like one. ― Jeannette Walls
It is not until you become a mother that your judgment slowly turns to compassion and understanding. – Erma Bombeck