05/09/2012 12:24 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2012

Like It or Not, Your Kids Will Turn into You

This is not your typical parenting list. This is a deeper cut into understanding your responsibilities as a parent and it's a little radical, so be prepared. The basic theory is this: your kids are going to turn into you. In many ways, you've turned into your parents (or a reaction to them). Regardless of what you say, tell your kids, cop to, or wish, they will follow in your footsteps. Since all you want is for your child to be happy, the best thing you can do for your child is figure out how to be happy yourself (oh yes, and pay some attention to them too, of course). Tip #1: Take Care of You Everything else in life is better when you feel in control over and love your body. Having kids, though an accepted excuse, is no reason to forego the bliss and confidence of having a body you love. It may feel like you have no time, but you do. I recommend:
  • Stop squandering your time: try LESS social networking.
  • Be more efficient: do jumping jacks while you watch TV, or chase your kids around the playground. (I literally do this.)
  • Get outside the norm and see what it does for your kids: do yoga or strength builders with your kids right there or try a dance party with them.
Ask for help: If you don't ask for what you need, you will find a way to take your resentment out on others, so give your loved ones the chance to be your heroes upfront. Your family will support you, if you mean it. Tip #2: Take Care of Your Partnership Ultimately, your children don't do what you say; they do what you DO. No matter what partnership you have, the relationships they watch are the ones they will emulate (or shall I say repeat?). Here's what you might NOT be doing that would make a big difference:
  • Telling the Truth (gracefully)- Whatever you are not talking about (or only talking with your friends about) actually harms your partnership. The more you hide something, the more weight and irreversibility it seems to gain. Learn to speak up (we can help).
  • Listening- To inspire an environment in which the truth can be told, become a non-reactive listener. This takes preparation and practice. We are NOT born with this skill and most of us never learned it from our parents. First step, admit you ain't great at it.
  • Making Time- If you don't make time for communication, fun, bonding, romance and sex, they won't stay. The same goes for your body and career, yet we take for granted our most precious relationships so much, and then, conveniently blame the other person. Please, for the kids, schedule time to practice and to keep alive what drew you to each other.

Tip #3: Take Care of Your Career or Mission

The kids are watching how you feel about your career or what you do, all day. If you love what you do and your only issue is that your kids tease you that you don't love them as much as you love your phone/computer, awesome! All you have to do is plan quality time, be fully present, say back to them what you think they are saying and feeling and practice until you get it right.

If you don't love what you do, make it the next thing to address. You'd think it tragic if your kid did not get to fulfill his or her full potential, but what about you? Have you taken the time to even think, dream, write and begin discussing what you really want to do with your life?

Even before you succeed, when you are pursuing what you love, you get prouder and happier. This will impact your family more than your face time ever will.

Tip #4: Tell Your Kids The Truth

I am talking about lies about where you have been, how long you'll be gone, what addictions you are struggling with, what's really going on in your relationships, etc. Hint: If you are ashamed to tell the truth to your kids (especially if they ask), it means you shouldn't be acting that way. Get help to fix that and come clean with your kids as soon as you can. Remember, your kids are not going to escape the trials of being human, so pretending issues don't exist doesn't save them.

Tip #5: Deal with Your Mom/Dad Baggage

It doesn't matter if you were adopted or who raised you, you most likely have "issues" with those who reared you and biologically made you. Because we tend to repeat bad patterns, especially when we become parents ourselves, the deepest and most rewarding work we can do is to heal our relationships with our parents. This means learning to see them as adults: human, fallible, equal adults, who made mistakes, had feelings, pain, hard decisions and possibly tragedies to deal with and who desperately want to be known and forgiven by their children. Think about how much you'd like to know your child(ren) released any baggage they had with you before you die. That's as much as your parents would like the same, even if they can't say it or don't realize it (even if they are dead, I believe). Like your parents, you are also emotional, imperfect, scarred, scared, hopeful, magical, triumphant and divine. This is the you who needs attending to in order to be the parent you want to be. Please start paying attention to you and the real work you need to do this lifetime.

It may take a year or more to work through all these, but any action in this direction will make you prouder and happier. Please get loving support on this deep work and consider us at HGLC your eager partners.



P.S.- Join us for our 4-week, small group telecourse, Parenting by Design and learn how to be the parent and partner you want to be.