Ok, that title might sound like a slight over statement, but that’s what we’re doing right? We all know how babies are made, but that’s only the first step. As parents we create this life and build these tiny beautiful babies who become feisty little toddlers, sweet little children, admirable young adults and then eventually will grow into independently whole and capable happy adults. That’s our goal anyway, no pressure though 😉
Yesterday I posted about my “why,” my reason why I make the choices I make is for the growth and happiness of my family. It goes much deeper than that though. It’s so important to me that my children are raised to become authentic, happy, healthy adults. That they believe deeply in their values, that they are confident and believe in themselves and in the goodness in others. That they are independent, courageous and open minded. Forgiving, grateful, generous, kind, driven and ambitious. We all want what is best for our children. I want them to have all the qualities I value in myself and all the qualities I admire in others. So I want my decisions and actions to reflect that.
I know that my actions will be more powerful than any lessons I want to teach my children. I know my words will mean nothing if my actions show the opposite of what I am saying to them. That’s why personal growth is so important to me, it’s about becoming the best version of myself I can be. For me and for them. Some of the qualities I mentioned that I want for my children, I have in myself. Some of them though are qualities that I lack and work on continuously.
Forgiveness and open mindedness are two things that did not come naturally to me. I am stubborn. In the past I held grudges all the time. I absolutely hated to change my mind once I made it, and I still struggle with that one sometimes. These are not qualities I want to pass on to my kids so I work to change them in myself rather than try and teach them to my children. Stubbornness is still my go to first reaction in some circumstances, but I’m aware of it now and can step back and choose again with some mindfulness around that reaction I have. Over many years, I have now become incredibly open minded. In fact it’s a joy to me now to listen to different perspectives on topics and consider new ideas and learn from others points of view.
I know I can’t tell my children they need to let go of something if I still hold onto anger myself. I can’t teach them forgiveness without demonstrating it through my own actions. I cant tell them to keep an open mind, but be unwilling to ever change mine. The list goes on and on for all of us… we can’t tell them to love their bodies and expect them to do so if we don’t love our own. We can’t read them a book about standing up for themselves and then expect that to be more influential to them than seeing us speak our own truths. We can’t tell them about the benefits of vegetables and serve them a salad to enjoy if were eating pizza instead. We cant tell them to be brave if they never see us take a risk.
I’ve learned that we can’t give our children what we don’t have, so the best way to foster growth in them is to demonstrate it through ourselves. Awareness of our own qualities, values and traits and knowing how we show up and react in certain situations is the first step to our own growth. The best part of awareness and mindfulness is that we can see truly ourselves. If we don’t like how we are showing up in a situation, we can take a step back and try again.
As parents, we are the the biggest factor for the perspective our children will see the world from. We are the model for the self talk they will have playing in their heads through out their life. We are the demonstration of the confidence and courage we want them to express in themselves by living authentically. There is no such thing as a perfect parent and no one knows all the answers. Our children are all different, our lives and situations are different, we are different. So there’s no handbook or step by step guide. You’re making your own as you go.
So how do we build a human?
We look in the mirror, and start there.
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