So here goes... Today is the day I am finally starting my blog. Let me get this straight now, the idea of my blog is not to instruct or promote a style of parenting, but simple to share and try to enable other parents to feel they are not alone and that even those of us who have always worked with children all our adult life, can get it wrong and make mistakes as we try to guide our children through the highs and lows of life. It is my aim to be authentic to myself, and I am writing this as who I am, sharing how I have formed meaningful relationships with children and helped them to succeed emotionally, physically, socially and intellectually. I write this blog from my heart and head. I am not here to proclaim that mine is the right and only way to be with children, simply share what I know with a hope of others finding my words useful.
Parenting and children are such 'hot' topics this day, (well have always been), and I feel that I want to get involved to share my own perspective on this. I am a parent myself of two girls aged 15 and 10, as well as a teacher, play therapist and family/parent support advisor. I am also a daughter, a wife, a friend, a sister, a granddaughter, niece and the list goes on. I have been a baby, toddler, teenager, and now an adult in my 30s and every experience and interaction in my life has shaped the person I am today. I have high standards, both for myself and others, but by this I do not mean I am judgemental. More that I have a standard to treat others with respect in the hope that I too will be respected and also for others to know that anything I do in life is with good intentions. I try to always have an open mind, and as my husband says, I shall probably always be an eternal student as I love to learn and continue to shape my practice of child-rearing, psychology, teaching, parenting etc.
My first thought to share is learning to be a 'good enough' parent, (first termed by Donald Winnicott). No matter what some people say, it has to be acknowledged that we live in a very high paced society. It is expected that family life is juggled with work, and for some, this is not easy. For the lucky ones, having an extended family or a good circle of friends to lend a hand can make this juggling easier. For others, they may not have the family or friends to help but can afford to have a helping hand around the house in the form of a nanny, au pair, cleaner etc, to take care of many aspects of life while they are working their guts out. There are those who work alternate shifts with their partner, passing like ships in the night, to ensure that they have financial stability. Single parents, single handily, taking on what can probably feel at times, the world.
Now, not only do we need to constantly juggle the everyday balls of life, we then have to try and constantly strive to do our best at everything we do. Targets, targets everywhere. Improve productivity, draw in more customers, get better results, reduce waiting times etc, etc. And this is just at work!! When you get home you then have your most precious beings, your children, wanting every moment you can give them, and you want what is best for them. You want them to eat the healthiest of foods, you want them to achieve all the things that maybe you never got around to achieving yourself. This is the time you are going to undo all those mistakes you feel your parents made with you.
However, you get in from work, you've had a nightmare of a day. Your two children are crying and moaning because they don't like broccoli even though you've busted a gut to cook them a decent meal, and sometimes everything just feels too much!
Family life is full of ups and downs. Some days there will be amazing, fantastic, rewarding days. Other times you may feel like you are the worst mother/father in the world. Let me point out now this is normal!! Ok, we all know shouting at children is not the best way to achieve anything, but there are times when it happens. Eating chicken nuggets and chips at McDonalds isn't recommended every night for tea, but many families still frequent this establishment. Parents do not have to be perfect all the time. We all make mistakes in everything we do, some of the time. Simply, acknowledge the mistake, work on improving from this mistake, and move on. Show your children you are human, if you need to say sorry to them, just as we ask them to say sorry to us. As much as a parent would love to be at every sports day, play, fete, etc, sometimes this is not humanly possible. Talk to your children tell them that as much as you would love to be there, you simply can not make it this time, and tell them why. It doesn't make you a bad parent, just an honest one.
Being 'good enough' helps your child succeed. It stops setting them up to fail. It gives them a role model for the future, knowing that we all make mistakes, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as you learn from those mistakes and always try your best. Why add extra pressure to ourselves... there will always be times when you fall out with your kids, however laid back or cool you are. Saying 'no' is something every parent has to do to help our children understand that they have boundaries, and these boundaries are important to keep them safe. Be good enough for your children, why give yourself another added pressure when life is already pressured enough!