Being a parent has become the definition of who I am – I’m Sarah’s mama, this is who I am.
I am a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a “food lover”,… none of those define me better than “being a mother” because being a mother has changed me, none of the other statuses did. It has been hard, it still is – but raising healthy and “happy” children is not easy. There are no shortcuts, no easy way – you do what you have to do Every Single Day.
About a year ago, I started reading parenting blogs, watching video about children development, I started spending every moment that I had on how to improve myself as a mom… as a person. I didn’t know what I was looking for, I didn’t know what to do but I knew while reading that seeing my child as a whole person, who has something to say and deserves to be heard was the way I wanted to follow. I *just* want her to be happy, I want her to be self-confident and self-motivated, I want her to know that she’s enough, that she’s a good person and I wanted her to feel welcomed and loved for who she is – no matter what.
Respectful parenting has become – for me – a goal to achieve, a way of life. I make mistakes, I try my best to fix them – I get angry – a lot: i apologize – a lot, I get frustrated, tired and stressed from time to time but I do the best I can until I know better. There are really great blogs on that matter, a lot of resources can be found. I follow a lot of blogs, I read a lot of stories… the thing is, you have to start somewhere, and starting is always the hardest thing to do.
From all the techniques, tips and stories, I found great comfort and “knew” what to do, but I just didn’t how. How to be respectful? How to set clear boundaries respectfully? what is a limit / boundary anyway?
From there, I searched more… and I couldn’t find how.
I started with 1 element: Make a connection. How? very simple: stop what you’re doing when you talk to your child, give him/her undivided attention. Get own your knees to look into his / her eyes – make eye contact (that implies undivided attention from both side) – seem obvious and easy right? I was amazed that I had to focus on stopping, that it required my attention. And you what, it works. From that point, I stop saying my child “doesn’t listen”, from that moment I knew that the connection has to be readjusted
I took baby steps and when I couldn’t answer the question ” How?”my answer was that: do it anyway, start, adjust when needed… FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE IT! in order to adjust the patterns you have to stop and think
Yes, to me there were no other way. Saying “It’s OK to be scared”, “it’s OK to cry” “oh, I see that you really wanted a 3rd candy, I didn’t give it to you and now you’re upset” and chase lions while all you want to say is “don’t cry, you’re a big girl now, you’re OK, there are no lions in our home” or “it’s just a candy, I’ll fix it for you, take as much as you want” is awkward, it seems fake, unnatural. Soon enough it became mine, my way of thinking, my way of seeing the world around me… all feelings are OK, even the hardest, even the “bad” ones.
If you fell down, you cry and that’s OK. If someone takes from you the most important thing you had, you would feel devastated, and that’s OK – just because the most important thing my child wanted is a candy she didn’t get, doesn’t make the situation easier for her – even if for me, it is “just a candy”. It IS hard to see differently, it is hard to realize that all I’ve been doing to “help”, “make my daughter happy” or “feel safe” made her feel less understood, less confident – and that’s OK, because I did my best until I “knew” better, there is always a wake up call somehow.
The journey is long and full of surprise, but I have set the path and I will fake it until I make it, until I make respectful decisions without even thinking about it.
Fake it until you make it, that is my new way.