One of the greatest challenges in our journey as parents is learning how to manage ourselves and not impose our desires or needs towards children, but giving them space to grow. Do you remember my write up some time ago about the different styles of parenting? Why do we all parent our children differently? If we are honest with ourselves, many of us carry a lot of baggage into our marriage and parenting relationships.
Perhaps you never got to live out your childhood dreams and now, you are encouraging your children to take on competitive sports excessively even though they dislike sports.
Maybe your parents were divorced when you were a child, and now you want to shelter them from any heartaches they may face in this world.
It could be that this child was the miracle baby you prayed and hoped for many years, and now that this child is here, you sacrifice everything for her, putting her first above all, even to the detriment of your marriage.
Hey, don’t hear what I am not saying. It is not wrong to love your child and want the best for him or her. What I am saying is that we need to be aware of our own needs and desires so that we know when to draw the boundaries between ourselves and our children.
Every human being has a desire for love, connection, feeling significant and growth. Tony Robbin’s classifies human needs into 6 different categories, and these include:
1. Certainty: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
2. Uncertainty/Variety: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed
4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
6. Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others
You can read more about these 6 human needs on his website.
So what does this have to do with parenting styles? I believe that our actions are motivated by our belief systems, and our core has been shaped by our needs, values, good and bad experiences in the past. We project these fears and experiences through different ways. So that drives our thoughts and actions daily.
In my life, I have a lot of anxiety going through my thoughts. It seems to be something I grew up with, and not necessarily triggered by any particular incident. This anxiety has really affected the way I live my life. I take less risks (or rather, I take a VERY long time to decide on something) and I do overthink a lot of issues.
When my daughter was 5, she started year 1 at a school that was far away from home. It was her first day at school and we signed her up for the school van. I became quite anxious worrying about her going on a school van alone (departing at 6am) and not knowing where to go once she arrived at this new school. But I had to resist the urge to drive to school, or even be there for her on the first day of school.
She came home that day a little more independent and brave, and her mummy learnt a lesson that day….If she never learnt to let go, her daughter will never learn to fly.
It’s always a balancing act. We want to influence our children for good, but perhaps a little more self-reflection about our actions wouldn’t hurt. Let’s ask ourselves some questions…
- How has my negative life experience shaped the way I parent my child?
- Are there any needs in your life that are unmet right now, that you are projecting on your child?
- What recent incidences point to the fact that your desires could be different to your child’s?
- Now that I know this, is there anything I need to do differently?