We all want to be the best parents we can be

and 

if you are anything like me before my aha moment, then you probably think you already are. 

But are you, really?

and 

How do you know?

Since it is the name I have given my business and thus my ‘north star’ it made sense to share with you what, I believe, is required for me to be my best parent self.

 

It took a profound insight 6 years into being a Dad to my two daughters before I gave any serious, conscious thought to my role as a parent.

After a lot of subsequent research, courses, self reflection and of course ‘feedback’ from my girls I believe being my best parent self is about: 

nurturing a healthy, vibrant and loving relationship with my children where they feel heard, seen, validated, understood, accepted, honoured and unconditionally loved, even when, especially when they show up different to how I expect or want them to be in any given moment. 

Because they feel loved in this way, free from my expectations or conditions, they feel safe to show up as their authentic selves and carve out the life of their choosing.

For this to happen I believe there are three key ingredients, which are interconnected. In this weeks blog i will cover the first. 

 

 

Part 1: Continuous Learning

 

Brian Tracy, one of the world’s leading authorities on personal development, and author of over 80 books, nailed it when he said ‘continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field’. 

As you know, training, in one form or another, is mandatory for most jobs in the world,  except parenting that is, which is arguably one of the most difficult and important there is.

In order to keep on improving and moving towards our best, further learning is always required, usually under the tutelage of a mentor, coach or teacher.  

But again, traditionally, this has not been the case for parenting. 

With the advent of Google, access to parenting information has never been easier, which has helped lots of parents, myself included, find solutions to our parenting challenges. 

But what if your child is not misbehaving and causing you headaches? What if, on the surface, everything seems fine? Does that mean you shouldn’t seek out learning?

On the surface our car might seem fine. Drives like a dream. But does that mean we don’t put it in for regular service. Of course not. We understand that a tune up will ensure the smooth running of the car and avoid bigger problems down the road.

The same for parenting. 

We pass down all sorts of unfair expectations, unfulfilled needs, limiting beliefs, emotional immaturity, fixed mindset thinking and fears onto our kids. It’s just that the effects of this unconscious parenting might not be seen until many years later.

Why?

Why would we do that to the beings we love most in the world?

Because we do it unknowingly. We don’t know any better. We have not had the right training. Perhaps no training at all. 

So my question to you dear reader is, apart from this blog, what learning do you regularly engage in, in order to be your best parent self, so you can effectively provide for your child’s emotional, mental and spiritual needs, not just their material ones? 

If you had asked me this question five years ago my answer would have been a book called ‘Up The Duff ‘ by Kaz Cooke. 

Looking back, I find it hard to believe that in spite of having absolutely no training in parent-child communication, emotional intelligence, child psychology, how to develop deep, strong and sweet bonds, new paradigm parenting mindset and more I somehow believed I was a great Dad. 

Look, don’t get me wrong. In many ways I was a wonderful father. 

My now ex-wife and I created a good routine and clear boundaries. 

We had a great work life balance, so one of us was always around in the formative years. 

I was hands on with them, whether that was reading, playing or having my face painted dozens of times. 

And we loosened the grip of control by fostering independence through conscious choice making from an early age.

For the most part our girls were a joy to be around.

 

‘We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know.’ Socrates

 

Well, I was about to discover a major weakness in my parenting.

When my eldest was 6, I found her crying in her bedroom because her little sister had taken one of her toys. 

I sat her on my knee and with good loving intentions (wanting her to feel better) I told her she shouldn’t be getting upset over something so small.

As I said this a wave of sadness came over me and tears rolled down my cheeks. 

Then, I had the most profound, life-changing realisation:  

Geoff, you have not validated her feelings. You have not validated her experience and thus you have not validated her. It might seem small to you, but to her right now the perceived loss of this toy is everything.

I then felt an empty churning feeling in my stomach as the sadness gave way to gut wrenching guilt. 

How often had I done this to her in the past? 

Then I wondered, was I raised in this manner too?

Of course I was, it was the era of big boys don’t cry!

A quick search on google that evening showed me that if I continued to parent with emotional unintelligence, I ran the risk of not only doing great harm to my relationship with my girls but also to their relationship with themselves. 

And so began my parenting learning quest that continues still, to this very day.

 

An Enriched Parenting Experience

 

As a result, I now parent purposefully and with greater clarity. Parenting now has greater meaning and brings me a lot of fulfilment, because it is not just about them, it is also about my growth and capacity to love even more. The whole experience is richer.

Does that mean it is smooth sailing? No way!  But this is where the juice is.

My eldest is now a tween and I need to relate to her differently. To do this effectively I had to learn the psychology of an 11 year old girl. seek out pointers on what to do and not do, say and not say and be and not be. How to foster independence and yet maintain boundaries.

Makes sense right, I mean, I was never an 11 year old girl.

How can I possibly know how to connect and relate to her skilfully if I can’t see life from her perspective?

Naturally, I make mistakes, and I get triggered, but these days I have the wisdom and skills to handle these challenges without going into meltdown or doing lasting damage to our bond. And, when I do stuff up, I have the humility to fess up, and the tools to quickly repair any damage done.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it is all about nurturing a healthy relationship with your child where you express your needs, set your boundaries and you respect and honour theirs.

And by validating and honouring their experiences of life, not what you think they should be, the need for discipline in the traditional sense is greatly diminished because the child’s emotional needs are met and therefore they don’t feel the need to act out.

But even when they do, you now respond with sensitivity to what is causing the behaviour shift and you respond directly to that rather the symptom (behaviour).

In closing, I hope this blog has inspired you to seek out further learning on what is involved in nurturing your child’s mental, emotional and spiritual needs, not just their material ones.

Because

by being the guide your child needs,

you become the parent you aspire to be.

 

In part 2, I will talk about how healing my emotional wounds, my triggers, has played, and still plays an integral part in me being my best parent self.  

 

Further Learning

If you would like to learn more from me then make sure you sign up for my newsletter to get notifications on 

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And for further wise parenting perspectives I highly recommend Dr Shefali, Dr Laura Markham, Bekky Kennedy and Sean Donohue on Insta or YouTube.