DON’T PARENT WITH A COOKIE-CUTTER APPROACH

Spread the love

When you are able to respect the unfolding of your child’s particular journey, you teach them to nurture
their own inner voice and simultaneously honor the voice of others. This fosters their ability to engage in
relationships in a manner that reflects a healthy interdependence. Because each individual’s path
emerges in its own unique way, no longer is there a toxic dependence on the other. This equips your
children for their adult years, in which a healthy interdependence is the hallmark of successful intimate
relationships.

To accept children requires disengaging from toxic life-scripts and engaging each child on a cellular level. When you attune yourself to a child’s uniqueness, you realize it’s futile to try to parent with a cookiecutter approach. Instead, each child requires something different from you. Some children need a parent to be soft and gentle, whereas others need the parent to be more assertive—even “in their face.” Once you accept your children’s basic nature, you can contour your style to meet their temperament. To do so means letting go of your fantasies of yourself as a certain kind of parent and instead evolving into the parent you need to be for the particular child in front of you.

Before I became a parent, I had a vision of who my child would be. When I learned I was having a girl, I had countless expectations of her. Surely, I thought, she would have all my positive attributes. She would be gentle, soft, and artistically inclined. She would be innocent and infinitely malleable. When my daughter’s spirit began to develop, I realized she was anything but what I had anticipated. She is gentle, yes, but in a vigorous and assertive way. She has a take-charge approach and can be boisterous and stubborn. She is also anything but an artist. Her mind isn’t dreamy like mine, but highly mechanical and logical. In temperament, rather than being “innocent” or even gullible, she is street smart and clever. More than anything, she isn’t a “pleaser,” a role I never dared step out of when I was a child. Instead, she is who she is, unapologetically.

It was a challenge to accept the reality of the daughter who had come into my world. I had to recalibrate my expectations, letting go of my fantasies. So caught up was I in who I thought she should be that, for a long time, I couldn’t believe she was who she was. To embrace the fact that this is the daughter I have been blessed with has proved more difficult than actually dealing with her. Isn’t this so for most of us as parents? Often it’s the adjustment of our expectations, rather than reality itself, that’s the hurdle we have to leap.

When we accept our children for who they are, we mistakenly believe this is to passively allow them to continue with behavior that may be destructive. Passivity isn’t at all what I have in mind. I’m speaking of accepting our children’s being, the as is state of their nature. Accepting is foundational. Adjusting their behavior to be more in line with their essential being comes later

If our children are behaving in a manner we deem to be “bad” out of a sense of defiance, the appropriate response is firmness. If they are being “bad” because they are having trouble handling painful emotions, we need to be understanding. If they are needy and clingy, we may need to be cuddly and attentive, or—if we have been overly attentive and haven’t fostered independence in them—we may need to help them learn to be content in themselves and comfortable being alone. If they are feeling private and quiet, we need to give them space and respect their desire for disengagement. If they are boisterous and playful at an appropriate time, we need to allow them to bask in their joy without interference. If they are boisterous and playful when it’s time to do homework, we need to contain them and bring them to a state of attention and focus.

Acceptance of our children can take the form of any of the following:

I accept my child is different I accept my child is quiet
I accept my child can be stubborn
I accept my child takes time to warm up to things or people
I accept my child is friendly
I accept my child gets upset quickly
I accept my child likes to please people
I accept my child resists change
I accept my child is fearful of new people I accept my child can misbehave
I accept my child is moody I accept my child is gentle I accept my child is timid I accept my child is shy
I accept my child is bossy I accept my child is defiant
I accept my child is a follower
I accept my child is temperamental
I accept my child is below the curve in academics
I accept my child isn’t as driven or motivated as most I accept my child often lies when under pressure
I accept my child can be too dramatic
I accept my child finds it hard to sit still
I accept my child has their own way of being in the world
I accept my child is their own unique person
I accept that to thrive, my child needs firm boundaries.