Most Important Job But No Training
Mindful Authentic Parenting Systems #2 (MAPS) by Dr. Glenda Wilkes
This is the second in a series of posts on Mindful Authentic Parenting. In the first post, I stated that although parenting is perhaps the most important thing we do in life, we have little or no training for it. I want to speak to that topic in this second post.
There are many things in life that we learn to do by simply doing them. We watch others, we observe what they do, we try, we practice, and eventually we acquire the skill we need to do it, whatever”it” is. We have acquired hundreds of skills this way.
For more difficult things, such as driving a car, cooking a meal, doing laundry, acquiring job skills, we usually are guided by someone who already knows how to do these things. We even receive formal training if we learn to play in instrument, a sport, an art skill, or more advanced computer skills.
But when you think about it, all these things are of benefit to us, and the actual doing of them, once we have acquired the skill, most often does not involve other people. Most of the things we learn to do, we learn because we need to do them for ourselves, from tying our shoes to living on a budget.
Parenting is different. Whatever skill we have as a parent, we have acquired exclusively from our experience as a child ourselves, and from observing other parents around us. And yet this endeavor has a direct impact on others — the child or children we parent. And even more important, the patterns we create continue down through the generations. We do things because our parents did them and they did them because their parents did them and so on. And…our children will repeat the things we do in their own parenting when they become parents themselves.
It is true that in a moment of stress we will say and do the same thing our parent did in a similar situation, even if we didn’t like it when we were that child. Why? Because that is the pattern that is established in our mind. If, when we spilled milk at the dinner table, mother got angry and sent us to our room without dinner, and we cried because we were hungry and didn’t spill the milk on purpose, that is our default process when our own child spills milk. If mother said, “It’s ok, it’s just milk, let’s clean it up and finish our dinner” with a smile on her face, then that is what you will probably do also.
Because no one has ever taught you how to change a behavioral pattern, you may feel locked into behaviors because that’s just what has always been done in your family. In fact, you may not even think about it. Most of what we do in our interactions with other family members we do in a mindless, automatic way. We just do and say what comes to mind at the moment. If we do any reflection at all, it usually after the fact.
The good news is…you can change these patterns for yourself in your own life and in the lives of your children. The better news is it’s not hard. The best news is that I am developing a system called MAPS — Mindful Authentic Parenting Systems — to help you create your own systems that take into account your family of origin and their patterns, and the patterns you would like to now have in your own family.
I will be posting on Medium over the next months the details of this philosophy of parenting. The specific tools for developing your MAPS are found in my books, the second one of which will be coming out in a few months.
My first book, Are There Really Clams in Clam Chowder, is a compilation of 46 stories about parenting that will help you uncover and remember your own stories — both those from your own childhood and those from you life as a parent. Remembering these stories, thinking about them, and what you learned, is the best place to start in creating your MAPS. We all have stories and they are very powerful learning tools for us. As you read Clams, you will recall similar events and those stories, and what you learned from them, will become the foundation of your MAPS. Clams is the foundational book to the MAPS system, and you will be giving yourself a rich new thought process as you read it and think about how it relates to you. You can then build upon that foundation with the second book.
You can find the book at www.drglenda.com along with additional information specific to this philosophy of parenting.