Parenting With Unconditional Acceptance
Do you ever wish your child was more outgoing?
More of a leader?
Or perhaps you wish they were more gentle?
Or more polite?
Or more helpful?
Or less noisy and loud?
Or more proactive and assertive?
Or less demanding and aggressive?
Or more advanced academically?
Or more developed?
Or more skillful at sports?
Or more talented in the arts?
Or more loving?
Or less dependent?
If you’ve had any of these thoughts, or feelings like them, you are not alone. We all hold a fantasy picture in our minds of the perfect child that would most please us, would impress others and would serve as shining proof that WE are fantastic parents.
I mean, look at this amazing kid we’ve produced!
But here’s the thing: you are not producing a kid.
You are not creating anything. You may have birthed this child, and you are caring for and raising them – yes – but they are NOT your project. You are not an architect, a carpenter, or a painter creating a masterpiece. This is a MYTH that we are being sold by culture.
Parents, everyday, are praised when their children behave in certain ways and achieve certain things, and admonished when they fall short in the eyes of society: An aggressive child? What’s wrong with the parents? A shy child? Well, that’s because you helicopter them. A slow child? What, didn’t you get the memo to play Baby Einstein intravenously??
Guys, it’s become laughable. Sure, how we parent our children has an affect. A big one! Heck, I wouldn’t be so passionate about peaceful parenting if I didn’t know that to be true. BUT the effects of our parenting are primarily in forming a secure attachment with our children. The effects come through our relationship with them, not in our molding and shaping their very “selves” in our image.
No, children are born with their own unique signature style, their own characteristics and temperament – that while most definitely can be effected by their environments and nurture – are also securely rooted in their nature.
It’s time that as a society and as parents we begin seeing children as whole and complete individuals who are complex and rich beings just like you and I. With weaknesses and strengths, likes and dislikes, boiling points and goals of their very own that are completely independent from us.
Look At Your Child With Fresh Eyes
So here’s my invitation to you. I want you, and I, to look at our child with fresh eyes. Look at them not as YOUR child (i.e. your project), but as A child. A person, in fact. A person with a complex, diverse, rich mixture of ingredients that makes them the unique and wholly idiosyncratic person that they are. And accept them EXACTLY as they are. RIGHT NOW. NOT as their potential to change. Not as the adult you hope they become. Not as their future achievements and success. But as WHO THEY ARE, intrinsically, truly, right now in this very moment.
Accept THIS child’s forgetfulness or clumsiness. Accept their loud voice. Accept their sassy attitude. Accept their autonomy. Accept their flighty, flakey, flatness. Accept their unabashed affection. Accept their shyness. Accept their aggression. Accept their questioning, critical thinking mind. Accept their leadership. Accept their slow pace.
So, should you sit back and do nothing when your child bumps up against the world in conflict or confusion? Of course not! We can help them, guide them and set boundaries without trying to change who they are. Just as we do not want to be changes by our spouse, our friend – or our parents – our children never need be changed by us. They don’t need to be DEVELOPED. They simply need guidance and help in problem solving, trouble shooting, figuring things out.
Imagine you had grown up accepted for who you really are, warts and all.
Imagine your parents gave you the feeling day in, day out that you are enough, that you are worthy, that you are ok just as you were born.
Life might had been a bit different, no?
You might have saved some energy on some unnecessary battles, no?