Let them BE…

When did parenting become a competition about striving to raise the perfect “trophy” child? What happened to nurturing our children to be their true selves?

As parents, we instil in our children, our own values and beliefs of what happiness and fulfilment is. Some of our beliefs in themselves are screwed up, aren’t they? Our values on happiness are based on careers with the best earning potential, large homes, sports cars, the perfect marriage and of course the ability to climb that all important social ladder. I’m not saying that money isn’t important, however financial freedom and materialistic wealth gives us short term comfort and security, but it doesn’t give us the long term happiness and fulfilment that everyone craves.

I’m a Mother of two amazing teenage kids. I’m no expert in parenting, and I am still learning something new every day. I spent the first few years of their school lives discussing parenting with the other mothers in the playground. After all, I had never been a parent before and there was no formal qualification in parenting. The school run, for me, was all about school catchment areas, entrance exams, SATS, homework, tutors and feeding them fish oils to boost their brains!

When our children have barely start primary school, we’re obsessed with helping them with homework (and at extremes, doing their homework for them). We want them to achieve the best grades so that they’re placed in those top sets. We fill each evening with after school activities, to keep them busy and to increase their chances at 11+. There was a lot of pressure to do what the other parents did. If you didn’t follow -the -crowd, you were somehow “letting your child down”. Out of love for our children, we do what we think is best for them by pushing them along a path, which will lead them to what we define as a happy life.

They are all consumed with the fear of not performing in exams, not fitting in at school, not achieving the expectations that society set, and disappointing their parents along the way. This makes parenting based on conditional love, as love becomes a trade-off. When they don’t live up to our standards, they feel unloved, inadequate and insignificant.

Something didn’t feel right to me. Was I really doing the best for my kids? I needed to understand what would really allow them to grow into happy, confident, compassionate, courageous and independent young adults. After doing heaps of research and some soul searching, I realised that my kids will only be truly happy when they follow their hearts and carve their own life paths, not the ones that we think are best for them. Happiness and success for them will inevitably follow.

Through our own anxieties of wanting the best for our children, we have grossly neglected their childhood and their needs. They therefore go through life building layers of beliefs, values, fears and insecurities, many of which are untrue.

We need to let go of the notion of what the prefect child is and how we can raise our children to reach our standards of perfection. Rather than imposing our own agenda on to our kids, we need to look within ourselves and try and discover what is causing us to put so much emphasis on these particular beliefs of ours. Is it something that has been engrained in our thoughts as we were growing up or maybe certain experiences we have had that is causing us to behave in this way?

Our children are our greatest teachers. They are our greatest gifts that have been sent to make us better people through learning from them. We can be open- minded and give them time to discover themselves… their likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Allow them to have their own dreams and passions and guide them along their own path. Above all, we need to believe in them and allow them to be their true selves.

For me, being a parent is about bringing out the best in my children. They are both unique and have different needs and interests; therefore, one way doesn’t suit them both. However, I can nurture them and teach them common values and I know this will inevitably lead to happiness and success in life for them. Teaching them self-love, self-worth and self-belief and that selflessness is important. Teaching them to have faith that things happen for a reason and always work out for the best and to be truthful, righteous, compassionate and help others. Teach them to think, not what to think. They must learn to look within themselves for answers and not to the outside world. True anchors for happiness are not the material trappings we’ve convinced ourselves of. True happiness comes from within us.

Love Always !