The first time I had authentic anger with my children, I knew I’d made it as a parent. What a unique experience to be joy-filled about being angry. I knew I was able to operate authentically with them, a goal I thought unattainable. Some of us grew up in homes where this didn’t occur. It is quite an achievement and quite possible to create an environment where your children know who they are, stay empowered and can relate to you at all ages.
As parents, we are asked to judge our world for our children at each turn. We look at them through the eyes of the story in which we were raised, through their actions and words, and through the situation(s) at hand. Let’s face it, being a parent can be a bit stressful. Feeling insecure about what to do when things start heating up, being overly tired, hungry or lacking consistent self-care can leave us short on perspective, an important component to parenting authentically.
If you are feeling stressed, calmly stating your feelings to your child is a great way to show them its OK to have feelings. It also shows them how to manage their feelings as an adult through communication.
Authentic parenting is also delivered through: natural consequence, simple enforceable statements and holding clear boundaries with compassion. Letting go of our own desires for our children to meet our definition of success and allowing them to “fail” and make mistakes starting at young ages gives them calculated risk to learn and solve problems.
Looking to yourself to see what the child is mirroring for you can also be a great opportunity to learn and grow with your child. They come here to teach us and shift old family patterns. If we can look at the core of the story where we have resistance with a child, we can unearth something much larger. When we claim it with them, we can start the process of letting go of an old story, which was likely from generations far gone.
Sharing some of your successes and failures, including what you did to achieve your desired result, is a great way to help children understand things don’t always work out. Sharing how you created success out of something that did not work is a great teacher. In turn, being their sounding wall and coach for situations they have is a great way to share in problem solving. Asking questions and letting them find the answers, and giving them ideas but not the solutions, also is supportive for them to think larger and come up with their own solutions.
Helping build self-concept in children is a way we can teach them to appreciate who they are. This is achieved by describing what you see them doing right. It’s a very simple, free and easy thing to do — and you won’t believe the result! Stop telling them to pick up their shoes. Simply find one thing they did that worked well for your home. Then describe it: “I see a child who knows how to put their dishes away.” Then the best teachers step away, making room for the golden moment as the child self-validates, “I am capable.” Making positive descriptive statements all of the time will take away from the authenticity. The child will know you are using it for leverage instead of a sincere acknowledgment.
A great example of an enforceable statement is, “I love you too much to argue,” brought to you by Love and Logic out of Colorado. This simple statement is to be used after you’ve told the child no and they persist. Say, “I love you too much to argue.” Your kids may push a bit. Let them say what they need. If you use this statement the first time and don’t cave, in time they’ll learn once you say no, you mean no.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! There are so many simple and wonderful authentic parenting strategies. Studying these methods will leave you wanting your kids to make mistakes, something they need to do to fully be who they really are. This is a gift all kids deserve.