We, the parents, are the inner voice of our pure children and this comes with a high level of responsibility. From birth, we have the freedom to choose directly or indirectly, how to influence our newborn’s behaviour, their thoughts and most important, the way they speak with themselves and other people, when that moment comes. As parents, our intention is always positive, because we have their best interest at heart. We want to raise our children to become kind and assertive adults, with high levels of emotional intelligence, accomplished and compassionate individuals that think for themselves, make their own choices and are socially responsible, right?
By Anca Botez
The thing is, every decision we make regarding our children, is filtered through our own system of values and beliefs, through our personal life experiences (positive or negative), and not through theirs. This is our “personal map” that reveals how we perceive ourselves and how we see this world, not our “children’s map”.
The main question here is, how do we encourage our children to discover who they truly are without us projecting on them an image about who we think they are? At the beginning I mentioned that we, the parents, are the inner voice of our children; we choose what we grow and bloom into their hearts, if we expand light or if we grow darkness. Indeed, we can give wings to our children by focusing on their strengths and accomplishments, by loving and accepting them unconditionally just the way they are. Or we can cut their wings by focusing on their weaknesses and failures because it is easier to be dissatisfied and to address only what is not working well.
If parents have a positive mindset, then it is easier for children to focus their attention on the good things, people and events in their life and this will boost their wellbeing and their happiness. For example, I teach “Mindfulness and Wellbeing” in schools and social centres and at the beginning of every class we practice the state of “being grateful”. Every child has to identify three good things that happened to them during the previous week. It could be something small like receiving a good grade, but we also emphasize the importance of being grateful for the people we have in our life (family, teachers, friends) and appreciating services (I payed the internet bill so I can do my homework online).
At the end of the day, maybe during dinner, we can practice together with our children this simple exercise. This way, we are creating a healthy habit of being aware and acknowledging the positive things in life that often go unappreciated.
This state of “being grateful” is also the solution for times when we feel upset, frustrated, or fearful. Sometimes in life we are so focused on the big things that we completely forget that this beautiful life is made up of millions of little, simple things. When was the last time when you noticed and appreciated your child coming out of the blue just to give you an innocent smile, a good cup of tea or the sound of the ocean on a sunny day? We take all of this for granted and our children are noticing this and they do exactly the same. How? Our daughters and sons are not following our advice but they copy the way we speak with ourselves and others, how we behave, how we think and our approach on life.
As a parent, ask yourself:
Do I react or do I respond based on the context?
Am I a problem solver, do I focus on finding solutions or on blaming others?
What it is my attitude towards mistakes, do I look at it as feedback or as personal failure?
Am I a flexible person or do I build resilience?
Well, yes, everything is acceptable depending on the context. For example, the voice. We use a lower voice when we speak with our children at home and a higher voice (tonality, tempo and volume) when we speak with them at the park. The context is different at the park, because the environment is noisier, maybe cars are passing by and we have to raise the tonality of our voice in order to be heard.
As per the problem solving, I must say children are very receptive, as I often use Problem Solving Techniques in schools as a mediation tool between students and teachers. By addressing specific questions (NLP clean language techniques) we can focus on a Solution frame and find common grounds together with our children, rather than concentrating on the Problem Frame and on creating a power struggle.
To sum it up, the most important skill we can teach our children is flexibility. Especially In the expat context, being flexible in terms of thinking and behaviour, will help them to adapt easier to a new country, to a new school and to a new pier. Flexibility is about creating choices and opportunities, it’s about going out of our comfort zone and facing the unknown.
Like gratitude and mindfulness, we can transform flexibility into a habit that eventually can become an everyday practice through repetition.
So, this evening before putting your head on your pillow, remember to count your blessings and to say to yourself: “I love and I accept my child just the way he/she is. I see only the light in him/her and I focus only on his/her strengths. I am grateful for being a parent and for all the challenging situations that allow me and my child to grow together.”