Are You Parenting Your Child or Your Ego?

Have you ever smiled at a stranger while gritting your teeth and under your breath telling your child to behave? I think most of us have been there. We as parents, our general intention is always to be doing what is best for your children. Don’t most parents say…

“I just want my child to be happy!”

But even with the best of intentions, our own past programming can take over, which may lead us to parenting our own ego and not our unique, amazing child(ren).

What is Parenting Your Ego?

When I say parenting your ego, I’m referring to your sense of identity being in the place of your child and their development; what you use to value yourself, and how you allow external circumstances and events to define you.

Many times, we tend to value ourselves by the car we have, how big our house is, or the prestigious school we went to, OR how well our children do (school, sports, manners, etc).

To think that your children’s accomplishments and behaviors are a reflection of us (the parent) is completely based in ego. The better our children do, the better we feel as parents! Thereby placing our own value and worth outside of ourselves.

Not only is this toxic for ourselves, because our self-worth is contingent on circumstances sometimes outside of our control, but it’s also very toxic for our children.

Long Term Effects

Our children are so intuitive and pick up everything we do, especially our energy whether you are aware of it or not. The expectations we lay on them are felt by them whether it’s verbalized or not…and they will always aim to please their parents — its part of their innate makeup to seek approval and acceptance of their parents.

Trying to live up to their parent’s approval and expectations is based on knowing they receive more attention and recognition when they do.

The long-term effects of this are that we then are raising children who do not know their inner selves; they lose understanding of their own true desires; they live their life based on pleasing others, therefore creating a life of disconnection, which can lead to feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.

I’m sure you can find times in which your own parents pushed their desires onto you and where you may have lost your own. I know I can.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be proud of our children. Absolutely we should. And in fact letting your child know that you are proud of them is important; it helps to build their self-esteem.

What is not healthy is if that pride is attached to how well they do; when you only show pride for their trophies, good grades, and other accomplishments. This then connects their inner sense of pride and worth with something outside of themselves.

There are so many other things to be proud of… creativity, compassion, generosity, sense of humour….. just to name a few.

So What Do We Do?

So, the first thing we need to do as parents is to learn when we are acting from our “ego.” In every decision, we make for your children we need to ask ourselves the question, “Is this for me or my child?”

We might have to “peel the onion” a few times. This means, sometimes asking ourselves follow-up “why” questions to get to the core of the issue.

My experience has informed me that if at any time my true intention is for my child to impress others, I am parenting my ego. I am far from perfect in all aspects of my life, especially parenting. So I must check myself, daily, weekly, and monthly to make sure I am always acting in the best interest of my children (and not me). Perhaps this may be a good exercise for you.

Secondly, I would say that we need to let our kids fail. Parents are deathly afraid to see their children fail. To the point where parents will do absolutely everything to make sure their children don’t fail (calling teachers, admissions directors, coaches, etc.)

It is the parenting catch-22: someone out there will put our child’s every failure, whether it’s rudeness as a preschooler to not getting a good grade on a test in school, on us, the parent.

We, in turn, will also put any or all failures on ourselves as well: “did I not teach them any better?”

And yet we still have to let them fail. And we have to let ourselves fail, or appear to fail, in order to have even a shot at doing this parenting job right.

A blow to the ego? Ummm yep, totally.

But didn’t we agree that this isn’t supposed to be about us anyway?

Still unclear about this whole ego parenting thing???

Check out Dr. Shefali explain it on Oprah’s LifeClass here.

Originally published at on April 10, 2016.

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