Note: I first published this post one year ago and re-reading on the first day of 2015, I find it still speaks to the heart of a parenting dilemma. How can we expect to become better parents when we’re so busy being hard on ourselves? I wanted to share it with you again and encourage you to take time to make the list I prescribe and share it with a friend!
What if this year you did something totally different with the whole New Year’s resolution thing?
Instead of setting the usual intentions for becoming a better version of yourself, you made a list of all the things you already do smashingly WELL, as a parent!
Don’t you feel guilty just thinking about it?
I do. It feels odd and unnatural.
For me it would be much easier to spend the next 500 words describing my shortcomings as a mom and all that I could do better. (Read: more family dinners, more trips to the library, more game nights, more patience, more follow through on kid jobs, more communication with my 18 year old… more, more, more…you get the picture.)
Not going there.
This year I’m doing something RADICAL. I’m going to share with you a challenging exercise that I LOVE, inspired by Kelly Bartletts’s blog Parenting from Scratch. It’s about turning away all of that “I’m not good enough” parenting stuff and welcoming the good that’s already there.
I’m asking you to acknowledge what you do well and linger in the good. I assure you, this is not a silly exercise in self-aggrandizement.
When we do this, our brains literally re-wire for positivity and well-being. It’s what Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness and Buddha’s Brain, calls taking in the good. Hanson says that putting attention on good experiences helps build new connections in our brains – [tweetthis]neurons that fire together, wire together.[/tweetthis] It’s part of the growing body of research around Neuroplasticity. We have the ability to change our brains!!
So, what does Neuroplasticity have to do with parenting? When we put our minds to it, we can become happier, better parents. And now here’s what I’m asking you to do:
- Make your own parenting infomercial (i.e., I’m great and here’s how:)
- Stick with your list – share it – savor it
- Be on your own side – be aware of that sabotaging voice but don’t feed it
This was a tough exercise for me. I noticed my loud, qualifying gremlin voice saying things like “but you don’t do X enough” and “you’re a parenting educator, your list should be much longer!” etc.
What’s important is that I made the list anyway, noticed that critical voice along the way and kept going. Here’s my list: (and before you read it, promise me you’ll try making your own.)
Lisa’s “Things I Do Well as a Parent” List
- I make yummy soups
- My “from scratch” dessert traditions kick-butt
- I read stories aloud to my youngest before bed
- I pull out my goofy, silly side on a weekly basis, for everyone to see
- I exercise and eat well (modeling what I want for my children)
- I love reading great books for myself (ditto)
- I am a room parent for one of my kids’ classes
- I got those weekly family meetings going on
- I regularly snuggle with my seven and fourteen year-olds
- I take the time to pause and breathe before I react to my child’s fall, F on their report card, the blatant lie, and of course – the periodic tantrum.
- I’ve gotten very good at biting my tongue and boy is it an effective parenting tool! (Listen more, too)
There you have it.
Now, I insist that you do this exercise for yourself.
Remember, when we recognize our own strengths, we nurture our minds and our whole being.
[tweetthis]Let yourself acknowledge that you have many strengths as a parent.[/tweetthis] Really let it sink in after you’ve made your list – take it one step further by sharing your list with a friend. Then notice the visible and invisible ways your relationship with yourself and your children unfolds for the better.
Peace and Happy New Year!
Consider your list, the mundane and extraordinary ways you parent. When you share what you’ve come up with below you inspire us and remind us of things we’ve forgotten.
Some of you have told me you feel too shy to share in this forum – in that case email me your list. I’d love to cheer you on!
Love just thinking about this exercise! What a great idea! Our house is very challenged on a daily basis with a few ADHD personnel, and sometimes, by proxi, we all behave in unsatisfactory ways. So I welcome this. I feel so defeated by the end of the day sometimes, especially when I’m tired. Doing this exercise will be a treat for me later tonight. : )
Angela it’s wonderful that you are taking this on! No doubt parenting is soooo challenging. Savor this treat!
I love the idea– although when I look through my facebook friends’ pages, it seems many parents already do this on facebook— show their best parenting faces to the world. I wonder if that counts… Happy New Year Lisa!
Oh Jo, that’s funny. I wonder if that’s more about how successful their kids are? I want to see your list!
Love this idea Lisa….so much harder to list the good things I do as a Mom….easy to list the ways I could improve!!
Hi Vicki! I’m glad I’m not alone and happy that this idea resonates with you… Now Vicki, share some of those mom traits you never have the chance to brag about 🙂
Hi Lisa- Thanks for this WONDERFUL post and idea. I also love the honesty of it vs. the humble brag version that I see thru social media that usually serves to pull me down into comparisons and self critique. My theme for 2014 is self compassion and this is a great way to start- celebrating the good vs. always criticizing the bad. As an aside, I think your list could have been way longer!!!!
Vic you’ve given me an idea – sharing with other parents, the + parenting qualities you see in them :). While my list has lots of “little” things on it, it seems the little things are what kids remember and notice… dessert for one! Thanks for your kind words!