Number 25 in a Series
What do you think are the most important reasons for having children?
If your list doesn’t include learning to be a more heart-connected person, your entire approach to parenting will shift should that happen. Living more heart-connected, especially when difficulties occur, is how the joys of parenting are renewed and maintained.
Unfortunately, most ideas about parenting do not address the idea of keeping our hearts open when faced with upsets. Traditional wisdom usually imparts only ideas for better controlling children. Even books that present nontraditional child-raising ideas usually offer little help in keeping hearts open in the trenches of everyday life.
Although, with few exceptions, parents dearly love their children and want the best for them, when we disconnect from our hearts we contribute mightily to their lack of self-confidence. And, because nothing touches our fears of not being in control and experiencing something awful more than the awesome responsibility of raising a child, our hearts close more often that we think.
Whenever we disconnect from our hearts it not because we are bad people. At those times, we’re just frightened and unaware of the skills we need to be more loving. In fact, there is probably no greater challenge in life than parenting with heart.
To put this into perspective, consider how uncommon it is to stay heart-connected in the following everyday upsetting situations when your children:
- Refuse to do what you think they should.
- Do, or might do, something that you think will be bad for them.
- Do not mind or listen.
- Do not do their homework and/or are doing poorly in school.
- Do not keep themselves or their room neat.
- Do not talk with you or lie to you.
- Are not polite or display “good manners.”
- Whine or pester you.
- Are not respectful toward you and/or others.
- Upset others or will possibly upset others.
- Are not eating the foods you think they should, or in the way you think is right.
For these and hundreds of other everyday situations very little has prepared us for responding with an open heart. The only parenting training most of us received was what our parents modeled, what we decided in response to what we were exposed to, or from family shows on television.
Almost every response to family situations that has been modeled falls into two categories – authoritarian or permissive. All such behaviors come from a heart disconnection and are not loving toward either parent or child. They also lead to predictable negative consequences such as not feeling good about ourselves, injuring the self-esteem of your child and eroding the closeness and openness between you.
If you’re skeptical, try assessing every upsetting situation that occurs through the filter of whether you responded connected or disconnected from your heart. (If you’d like a further review of the distinction between being disconnected and connected from our hearts please see post #2 – How to Become Your Own Hero).
The tendency to disconnect from our hearts when facing difficulty may be the single most difficult aspect of ourselves to acknowledge. We don’t like to think of ourselves as unloving and yet we all close our hearts at times. But without confronting and learning from the times when we disconnect from our hearts we miss the opportunity to become more loving and more fulfilled parents and people.
Equally difficult may be recognizing the results of interacting with children when we’re disconnected from our hearts. We would like to believe that uloving behavior has no significantly negative effect on children or on our relationship with our children. Whereas that might be true if it happens occasionally, consider what it’s like for an impressionable child to be continually bombarded with messages that they are not adequate, and to live with the fear that they better shape up or ship out.
Behaviors beyond authoritarian or permissive happen when we are heart-connected. They are the loving behaviors that naturally flow from feeling compassion and being open to learning. The Paths Through Upsets chart for parent’s follows the results of a heart-connection and a heart-disconnection. To see the chart, press here.
For Your Journey
- If you’re thinking, “Well, I was raised in a household where being either authoritarian or permissive was the norm and it didn’t affect me,” think of how any insecurities and/or self-doubts about your loveability or adequacy have gotten in the way of feeling fulfilled in general or specifically in your intimate love relationships, career, and/or friendships? (For more about not taking things personally see post #20 – Overcoming Feeling Wrong and Guilty.)
- After getting angry or demeaning with a child, once you have regained your heart-connection begin a discussion about how that left them feeling about themselves and about you?
- Share-it-forward. Share these idea with the person with whom you are co-parenting your child and, if appropriate, with your child.
First in the Series: From Head to Heart
Next Week: # 26 – Becoming a More Effective Leader at Home and at Work
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
Photo: Flickr / madgerly