To Every Parent,
It is incompressible when we hold our dear little baby in our arms our life has changed forever and we now wear our hearts on our sleeves. This tiny baby digs us out of our comfort zone and creates an environment of ‘us’ not ‘me’. Our selfishness diminishes and we show up every day, day after day for this child for the rest of our lives. This takes bravery and courage.
Through instinct when our baby is born we start to do everything in our fibre to protect our child. We try to protect them from hurt and at the same time know that building up their capacity to be resilient and courageous by allowing them to take risks. We try to shield them from badness in the world and at the same time know that they need to be ready to face the reality that is. We try to protect them from failure and at the same time encourage them to make mistakes and learn what it feels like to be disappointed. We try to nurture their social and emotional growth and development by showing the importance of love, kindness and connection. We show our kids that emotions are OK and in doing so allow them to navigate the ups and downs of the world and develop emotional intelligence. We try to help our children find their spark, their joy and motivate them to do what they love often. This is where they find their ‘happy place’ and it cultivates positive memories. These memories help to weather the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ of life.
These acts all take bravery and courage.
Every day we are faced with a new challenge, a new question or a new stage of development from our children and each day we make the tough decisions to move forward. It is the capacity which we move forward and show up for our children every day that allows our children to flourish and thrive, rather than just survive.
The debate on nature versus nurture is ever present when these acts of parenting braveries arise and at times, we may get disappointed that our children are not meeting our expectations. Or maybe one child does, but the other doesn’t. This is when we realise that our children are born who they are. They are born with their personalities and traits and our job is to help shape them to be able to act with resilience and courage in the world we live in. In this shaping, we need to remember that we are parenting the child in front of us, not the child we want or expect, but this beautiful face right here in front of us now. If we allow teaching to occur through our own insecurities, these children are our biggest teachers. We have front row seats to humanity seeing how these little children act, react and live their lives to remind us that embracing life fully and living for the moment is important. We are reminded that life if fun and we need to embrace it with.
As you know, parenting is not for the weak hearted. To parent bravely, we must set the routines, boundaries and expectations and be consistent in the delivery. We must show up even when we are tired, sad, angry, and lonely or any other emotion. We need to remember that our capacity to love is boundless and never runs out. The saying ‘I love you but I don’t like you right now’ needs to be banished and put in a corner. Forming a relationship based on love, respect and connection is what we do as brave parents. We also allow time to fill up our ‘cup of love’ away from our children so we have the energy to parent bravely when we are with them.
Every parent knows there will be messy bits. There will be parts that won’t go to plan, probably many parts. This will help us remember we don’t have control over our kids. There will be moments, probably every day, where we won’t get it right. Or we will loose our business more often that we planned too. Or we will over indulge and loose the essence of the needs of our children. This is the part where we create and morph and create and morph. This is the living part where life is not meant to be perfect and right all of the time. This is the part when we work long hours and feel guilty for not spending enough time with our kids. This is the part where your child throws food across the restaurant and the embarrassment sets in. This is the part when we serve eggs on toast for dinner because we haven’t been to the supermarket. This is the part when your child pushes another kid off the swing at the park and you are judged. This is the part where your kids don’t take a shower for a day. This is the part where life happens. It is our reaction to these bits that requires bravery and courage.
Every parent knows there will also be amazing bits. In our family at the end of every year, we sit together as a family and write down the highlights. Every time they are the awesome bits that happen. This year it was the ski holiday, the new trampoline, the lazy days on the beach and the netball grand final. It was the first day of school, the first bike ride around the new pond, the birthday party. When we drill deeper into why these things are amazing, it was because of the connections made. The family holiday because we were all together. The fishing trip with Dad ‘because it was just Dad and I hanging out’. Going to school with Mum ‘because she taught in the classroom next door and I saw her through the window all day’. Bouncing on the trampoline ‘because it was with my sister and brother’. The netball grand final ‘because Dad and Mum coached the team’. These bits also require us to be brave and courageous.
By being a brave and courageous parent, you are raising your children to be resilient, courageous, emotionally intelligent, confident and joyful. You are raising your children to have the capacity to love and be loved. You are raising your children to know right from wrong and to know that putting in maximum effort will ensure maximum gain. You are raising your children to be active citizens that will engage in the world, be grateful for what they have and to know their worth. You are raising your children to be who they are meant to be and showing your children they are not alone on their path.
Thank you for being a brave and courageous parent and giving your children the love, values, tools, environment, strategies and courage to be. You are serving the next generation in ways we don’t even know possible. It takes courage to be a brave parent and for that I thank you.
Your Fellow Parent (Who Is Always Striving to Be Brave and Courageous) xx
Anna Partridge writes about the modern dilemmas parents face in raising confident, resilient and emotionally intelligent children. She writes from her position as a school teacher, parent educator, mom, social observer and published writer. Find her at www.annapartridge.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.