March 27, 2022

I haven’t had my own child and you may think I'm not in a position to write about parenting. I have been a child though and a sensitive one at that and hence I speak from that perspective, which may be extremely helpful to you.

Children tend to internalise their experience. They are the centre of their experiences and are unable to understand your perspective. They are extremely intuitive and tuned in to their parents. Parents are the first role model kids have. They do not judge them and completely trust them. Children believe that their parents' problems are theirs to solve but a child can't solve your issues at a young age. That becomes an internal narrative and leads to learned helplessness. "I want to help my parents, but I can't" and it goes on and on. So, I recommend noticing areas in your life that you are struggling with and find ways to deal with it, as kids look at and learn from your actions rather than the words you speak. Parents give advice to their kids and their actions do not match. This incongruence is picked up easily by children as they are very observant. They know and understand a lot more than you think.

Be aware that children get rejected easily and they start to believe that they are not good enough and they don't matter. Repetition of this feeling makes this belief stronger. This occurs when parents are always arguing, too involved in their jobs or cooking and cleaning most of the time or just being self-involved and not giving their kids attention. This makes the child feel insignificant, neglected and helpless. They are constantly vying for your attention. There is no such thing as a perfect parent and everyone makes mistakes. It is important to own it, especially when you have behaved in a way that has hurt your child. It's not your child’s fault if are angry or if you are having a bad day. Apology is an important deposit into your child’s emotional account. Children don't do things to annoy you, they just do it for your attention. Notice when they are doing things you don't like and saying things to hurt you, it’s a cry for your attention.

Parents are unlikely to notice their own manipulation. Parents emotionally blackmail their kids to believe that the kid’s actions and words are causing them harm.  Parents say things like "I do so much for you", "This happened because of you", "You're making me sad" these words are not only untrue but very damaging to children. They start to blame themselves and feel guilty for hurting their parents. Instead teach your child what’s good for them and show them how to deal with difficult situations. Show them that they always have options and that you've got their back. Teach them how to learn, grow and move on from difficult situations. The words you use to describe your child’s behaviours like "useless", "shy", "angry", "disobedient" etc. make them form a belief that they are those words. They are in their learning phase and they need your support, attention and affection. Your words become their personalities. Choose to encourage them and show them they are worthy of love. Protect and stand up for them when others comment on their personality or body. It is imperative they feel comfortable to come to you with any issue or anything they may think is bad or wrong in their life. Be there for them always.

The relationship between partners is not perfect and some may be very strained. Maybe you are a single parent, that could have an impact on your child as well. The truth is we cannot control everything and that's really ok. If you've read this far, I know that you want the best for your children. There are times that you need to communicate more clearly with your spouse, maybe leave a relationship or fix it. There are always several options and some are easier than others. At times we stick it out when we should leave, not putting the safety of our kids and ourselves first. At other times we walk away too soon instead of working things out with our partner. We're always allowed mistakes and they can be corrected or mitigated at any time. Kids cannot be happy if they see their parents in distress or unhappy. Blaming your spouse or putting them down in front of your children makes them have to choose sides and that is very difficult for a child. Relationships have differences, as we all have different perspectives and frames of reference and we can choose to respect and open our minds to understand it. It's best when parents don’t discuss their issues in front of their kids as they tend to blame themselves for their parents issues and feel helpless as they can’t do anything about it.

Being a parent may not be easy all or most of the time. We've learnt a lot of parenting skills from our parents and we unconsciously carry out some patterns. Many times these are good and helpful to your child and that is excellent, but sometimes it wasn't good for you and isn't good for your kids. Observe your child. They are unique and what worked well for you, may or may not suit them. They are always tuned into you and you can tune into them and notice unsaid words and unexpressed emotions. Notice their talents and encourage them rather than force them to do what you wanted as a child. Look at them and send love through your eyes. Hug them and let them know they are supported. Appreciate the small things they do for you and do small things to make them feel significant.

Being a loving parent can change the world I believe, one child at a time and the power is with each of us. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent or not, we all have kids around us. It could be it a relative, neighbour, a random child in a shop or your own inner child. Children are the future and we can create a beautiful world filled with love, security, honesty and compassion by being an example to the kids around us.

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