I know what you’re thinking about my click bait title: If you had a dollar for every op-ed about the RIGHT way to parent, you would be a gazillionaire. I’m with you on that. In this age of the internet, where you can’t spit without hitting a blogger, it feels like parenting has become more challenging because everyone’s an expert and they want to tell you the exact right way to parent while hitting you over the head with everything you’re doing wrong.
With all the access to information, many parents think if they just spend enough time reading articles on co-sleeping vs. sleep training and how to successfully potty train by the age of 18 months, one can actually perfect this parenting thing. Ha ha ha ha ha. No.
No matter how much you read, no matter how much you prepare, parenting is nothing less that a total shit show. We are all unique snowflakes and when you start pairing us up, the myriad of ways our unique personalities can combine and mix together are seemingly infinite. So when parenting our children, considering all the millions of variables of human relations at play, there are a million different ways to do it. Which pretty much puts a squash to anyone’s theory that there is just one right way.
That being said, I do believe there is ONE RIGHT WAY TO PARENT which I don’t think enough people are talking about. Are you ready for it?
The best way to parent is….. BE YOURSELF.
That’s it! And I promise you this 2 word rule to parenting is fool proof.
Our kiddos are constantly looking to us for guidance. They look to us, but you noticed that kids aren’t always great at listening. I can talk and talk to my kids about how they should act, but it is the way I act, which makes the biggest impression on them. Kids have amazing bullshit detectors . They can always tell if we’re being phony. If we say one thing and do another, they will generally ignore what we say and do as we do. So if we want our children to be authentic self assured people, we need to model it in a way they can copy.
The best way to parent is to be yourself and listen to your own gut and intuition. When faced with a decision about whether to co-sleep or sleep train, don’t listen to all the static on the internet for your main source of guidance. Get quiet with yourself and see which decision feels best. Go for the choice which makes you feel good. It's that simple. If you’re not sure, yes you can go ask for opinions, but I think it would also be worth reflecting on why you don’t have an answer yourself. Do you not trust yourself? Do you not know how to listen to yourself? Because if so, these are worth looking into.
Women often have a hard time asserting their own voice, or listening to their own internal wisdom. Thousands of years of male dominated culture have made generations of women believe we are weak, irrational and not as good at thinking as men, so we’ve become accustomed to looking to other people for the answers. The truth is though, no one knows better what your children need than you.
Although my message is very simple, it's actually really hard. In a culture which keeps us distracted and unhappy so we’ll keep buying beauty products and high ticket home entertainment devices, many of us have become pretty distracted from who we are and what we really want out of life. Being yourself can be so much harder then just getting an answer from someone else.
If you feel lost and are not sure who you are, don’t fret, it's also awesome to model to your children the act of self discovery! You’ve got your whole life in front of you to figure out the puzzle of who you are. It's never too late. Why not get started now?
Maybe you’re thinking: I’m so full of flaws! Being myself is not going to help. That is not true. There is no fault in being human. No matter how hard we’re trying on Instagram to pretend we are, no one is perfect and neither are you. So just accept that and be your awesome flawed self in your parenting role. When you make a mistake, own it and give your child an awesome lesson in how to give a genuine apology through modeling it for them. By being accepting of your flawed and authentic self, you give your child permission to love and accept themselves too.
Others of you might feel like: I need to follow books and experts because they know more than I do. But do they really? Do they know your authentic self and do they know your child and what would be best in the realm of your unique lifestyle? No, they just know averages. And that’s fine, it's good to hear about what works for an average amount of people. However, there will be situations where we fall outside of the average group and following the experts’ advice won’t work.
Parenting is a shit show. These kids of ours are perpetually going through new phases and struggles, trying desperately to sort out all the crazy nuances and endless contradictions of life. It's messy and it’s a job that keeps you on your toes. The more you can be centered in yourself, with your own voice and values, the better you will able to quickly navigate the changing terrain and give your child the consistency and security they look to you for.
Who needs another parenting op-ed? But this article isn’t an opinion. It is a fact. You are a sacred being and with a unique point of view which cannot be diminished regardless of how you might view yourself, because we are all sacred beings with our own truths. The sooner we come to see ourselves, to value our voices, and model this behavior for our kiddos, the sooner our children will learn how to see and value themselves. And that is doing parenting right.