If you have ever asked this question, this article is for you!
When we get to know we are pregnant, oh the joy! It is such a wonderful and happy time! We imagine our happy baby, looking like both or one of us. We imagine how much joy it will bring us! When we leave this planet, a part of us will still be here.
Much like we always want to stay young, we also want our name, values, and family name to go on. And our children will become our legacy.
Now you have heard that if a very beautiful but dumb woman and a very smart but ugly man have a child, the child will hopefully be intelligent and good looking and not the other way around!
Scientifically speaking we all get 23 chromosomes from each parent to make our DNA. But this is physical likeliness to some extent mental aptitude. But what about skill, hobbies, emotional temperament, and behavior?
So a parent with great academic excellence will want his/her child to have the same qualities and similarly with parents good at sports, musical instruments, art, and singing. Of course, when your child naturally follows you and has an aptitude for things most important to you, it is a blessing for both but what if that’s not the case?
What if one child is your dream and another is not? Wasn’t each child of mine supposed to be a mini-me?
When I became a mother, I thought that’s what I signed up for. I was a very calm and peaceful child who listened to her parents and always thought about others. I was an avid reader and great at sports. So of course my children would be doing all this and more if I had a say in it!
But the rude shock came that I didn’t. My son refused to read and play sports with a vengeance and my daughter is this hyperactive child who can turn into the Hulk at the drop of a hat!
But the truth is also that they have qualities I never had. My son has a gift and natural talent towards building things, experimenting, and science, and my daughter is the most fun, lively, and clear-headed person I know!
But to look at these qualities took time. There was a lot of crying, pleading, and bribing involved. As we tend to focus on what is not going right for us. We want to harp on things we don’t have!
A New Way of Thinking
So let’s focus on the idea that what if you didn’t give birth to a child but an adult. Or an adult in making. The idea that our children are not our birthright, legacy or property. They are adults in the shape of children who are our companions on this journey of life.
They are their own person and have a separate identity from us. They do not belong to us. Like in any adult relationship, each person is equally respected and given a chance to be understood, the same principle works for a child and parent relationship.
Easier said than done!
Because it is ingrained in us that our kids are a reflection of us. That their actions will reflect on our name and legacy.
Now I do not mean that we do not guide and mentor our children. We are responsible to them, to give them a safe environment, teach them values, and be a good role model. We need to consistently show emotional awareness, regulation, and empathy so they feel seen and safe with us.
We should attune to them, realize their gifts and help them in achieving their dreams, understanding their unique nature and guide them to became the best of themselves, not ourselves.
Steps to change your way of thinking
1. Accept them as an Adult
Children are like our heart walking out of our body. Our anxiety to keep them safe and young makes us want to control their behaviors, thoughts and actions. But when we raise them as adults, we empower them and liberate ourselves.
A young person wants the freedom to choose. So let them. It is always their choice and it should be. Positive power or age appropriate autonomy is the best way to raise an adult in making. (Click on the link for more on this idea)
When we accept them as an adult or adult in making, our tone will change. And that is a game changer. We will mark them as an equal (channeling Harry Potter!). Because when we don’t think of them as equal, we make them lesser than us, and they are definetly not!
2. Listen to them respectfully
Now as I said, a respectful tone is a game changer. Then listening with attention and respect is mastery. It brings true connection like any other adult relationship.
Dr Laura Markham says that when we connect with our children, we recollect them. We restablish the bond. And we make a deposit into our mutual emotional bank account.
An emotional bank balance is increased with positive interactions, hugs and love and is depleted with shame, anger and guilt. So when the balance is full, the withdrawal doesn’t pinch. And this I believe true for any adult relationship. So deposit, deposit and deposit some more!
To learn more on how to connect deeply and have happy adult relationships, please click here.
3. Learn their nature
Dr Shefali Tsabury, a leading clinical psychologist points out that most parents look at the behaviour of children and not their nature. She goes on to say that when we truly see and understand the feeling behind the behaviour, without our prejudices – we truly see our child.
For example, when a strong minded child says no should you take it as rebelliousness and bad behaviour or that s/he have a mind of their own? And isnt that a good thing when someone offers them a cigarette?
And if you have a very shy child and you keep on expecting them to become the life of a party like you, but they dont. There is shaming and bribing but s/he never lives up to your expectations. They always slide in the corner and as you push them in the centre, and eventually further away from you.
Of course, we can serve as a guide to mitigate the disadvantages of a particular nature. To show them better coping strategies, build resilience and design your responses in keeping with their nature. Much like our relationship with our spouse, to work with each other and find common ground and balance.
4. Coach with Emotional Intelligence
This could be the first step or the last. First we need to raise ourselves. We need to grow up ourselves and understand and manage our emotions and feelings before coaching our children.
Because this is the true crux of parenting. When we can respond ably to our children and provide repeated, predicted, timely and sensitive care to them, then we may just be ready to be parents!
In conclusion, we can guide not control this adult, we can discuss not dominate this adult and we can empathize not dismiss this adult. So be a life companion to your child. The friend who sets boundaries respectfully, shows up everytime, helps to cope with setbacks and celebrates every win!
And no, they were not supposed to be like me, I was blessed with them so I could finally be me!