“I always wondered why somebody doesn't do something about that… Then I realized I was somebody.” When I read this Lily Tomlin quote it made me contemplate whether I have been doing a good job at instilling this in my daughter. I think one of my most difficult tasks as a parent has been to teach her that she is valued for who she is and at the same time balance the need for her to respect other people. As any parent will tell you it can be quite a challenge to cherish a 3 year old who is having a tantrum or running away from you as you try to get on their pajamas or into a car seat.
In those trying moments, I take a DEEP breath and remind myself that what I say to her and how I respond to her in the present moment is going to have a lasting impact on how she feels about herself as she gets older and how she will act on a daily basis. If I scream, yell or use force to get her to do what I want, I have just taught her that she has the power in the relationship because she is able to invoke strong emotions in me. My anger in response to hers may feel frightening and she could start to hide parts of herself from me because she’s afraid of how I might respond. This type of response also has the potential to damage our relationship, which will only make her less likely to comply with my requests. On the other hand, if I am aware of the anger she is causing me, but take a moment to choose to empathize with how hard it is for her as well then give her some space to feel some control, on most days she chooses to follow directions. My hope is that she eventually will understand that while she has a right to her own decisions that she also needs to value how they make other people feel without needing me as a constant reminder.
When we are aware of our actions and striving to live the qualities on the ‘Mom Factor’ list (See previous article), our children will learn by our modeling and by our mistakes. The intention I try to set each morning often comes from this awareness. Accept and love my daughter for who she is (tantrums and all) while teaching her empathy and to respect the needs of others. Of course we all have bad days, but if our overall inclination is one of love, acceptance, and mindful presence our children will know their importance in the world- these are some of the ideas taught by many Positive Parenting experts. Check out http://www.parentfurther.com/why/positive-parenting or search Positive Parenting if you would like some more suggestions around this technique.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~ Maya Angelou
Jennifer Bronsnick is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Holistic Health Coach. She has her Master’s Degree from New York University School of Social Work and Health Coach Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is also the mother of a two beautiful little girls.
Jennifer has a private practice in where she specializes in helping teenagers and women struggling with anxiety, depression, and general stress & health issues.
She is the founder of Mindful Mommy, a website where mothers can get support from professionals and connect with one another. The mission of Mindful Mommy is to support mothers across the globe to lead happy, healthy, and fun-filled lives by offering a space for self-exploration, education, and meaningful connections with other mom's.