Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Want to parent better? Here are 5 mistakes to avoid!

Ok, so it's time to come clean: I've decided to share with you some of the pitfalls and mistakes from my own parenting journey. I have to confessed that at some point or another I have fallen prey to one or all of these mistakes when parenting my very active and strong-willed child. The fact that I coach parents and have been trained and supported by some of the best experts in the field, doesn’t mean I don’t find myself struggling with the very things that bring moms to my practice.

So here there are (in no particular order):

1)    Over read and under done!
So many of us are life-long learners. We enjoy learning new techniques, new ways of doing things. We are always on top of the latest book, seminar, cd or PBS show on how to do a particular thing.  We can quote every edition by a particular expert on a particular subject and feel pretty proud quoting them to our friends and family at the last family gathering. I know all too good about that. I am one of those moms, over read and under done! As I coach moms that find themselves in this very same place, I have learned that at some point the searching, the learning and the reading needs to give way to action. Decide what of all that you have read serves you best and discard the rest. Decide to take one baby step, one single action that will move you forward, closer to the family life you deserve. Don’t wait for the next edition of the greatest parenting book out there!

2)    Going it alone:
Martin Luther King Jr had a posse… Mahatma Gandhi had a posse. Mother Theresa had a posse. President Obama has a posse. We are not meant to walk this wacky world of motherhood alone. I know that early on my parenting journey, before I discovered the power of having my own “tribe” of other moms to support my efforts of being the best mom I could be, I really thought that I was all my child needed. After leaving corporate America and after a very successful Engineering career, I felt that I should be competent and confident enough to plow through motherhood without showing weakness or neediness and asking for help or support. I don’t know about you, but I worried that someone was going to judge me for not knowing everything I needed to know to be a successful mom. I look back at that “me” that felt inadequate and scared and have nothing but compassion for her because I understand now the beauty of reaching out and asking AND accepting support!

3)    Being invested in how things have been:
How many of us know “how things are”?  Just the way things are and have always being? Sometimes we have too much invested on the past and the way things have been before. We never stop and think about that our expectations also play a part in the outcomes that we have. If we believe that things are they way they are and will never change, then, we don’t have the mental and emotional energy to invest in considering the way things could be. Here’s where that very common idea of positive thinking comes into play

4)    Not trusting your natural instincts:
As a species, we have been having babies and raising children mainly as the primary care providers for thousands of years. We hear the stories about our grandmothers, and great-grandmothers having children in the fields and carrying on with the work they had to do. So motherhood should be as natural as breathing right? Well, in many ways it is. The beauty of human beings is that we all carry with us the basics to move the next generation over. But we also have something I consider much more powerful than any genetic drive: we have an inner knowing, an inner compass that has been place in our hearts by a force we can’t even begin to comprehend for the sole purpose of guiding our very unique journeys as moms. The longer we get away from support and our own personal tribes, the scarier it gets to listen to that voice that tells us when something is wrong and when something is really not. We start forgetting that gift we were given the moment we decided to become mothers. I encourage you to tap into that “mother knows best” switch and start trusting that you know your kids best. You are indeed the expert on your kid. And although many people, experts or not, will have opinions about what you should or shouldn’t do, you and only you live with the consequences of the choices that you make. They will impact your life and the life of your kids: make sure to listen to your inner voice, your mom intuition!

5)    Having clarity about your dreams for your family:
I can’t stress this one enough. We find ourselves in the middle of situations when it comes to our family life and we would swear we don’t know how we got there. The truth is that even when we don’t set an intention or a goal for the way we want our parenting experience to be, we are setting the intention to not have an intention. I know many of us subscribe to the theory that for our own sanity, many times it is best to go with the flow. I invite to consider that sometimes going with the flow is not the best way to go. I always remember what my grandma used to say: “Honey, only dead fish go with the flow”. And we don’t want to be the dead, smelly fish, right? If you are feeling stuck on this crazy journey of motherhood and you are ready to move forward, I would like to suggest that you examine your dreams and desires you have set up for your family. Make sure to look closely: I am always amazed how my true intentions are often hidden in the shadows. Ask yourself and take some time to answer: How have my dreams and previous actions produced the experiences I am having now with my kids, with my significant other? How would my life be different if I decided to shift my focus and my actions?

This is a good place where a life coach or a parenting coach like me can help. The role of a coach is to guide you and support you, empower you through the process of making your dreams come through. We don’t walk the path for you. We can’t. But the difference between a book and your very own cheerleading squad is that there’s not such a thing as a one size fits all. Your kids, your family, your life are as individual as your fingerprints. There’s great information out there on how to support a mom on the greatest job of her life: motherhood. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for using the resources available. But unless you decide that we are committed to having a different experience, you’ll tend to argue for the way things are. As an outsider, a coach like me has no investment on keeping your story going because we can see past the story and the details, to the brilliance that is you. It becomes important to set up a strategy that works for you and your family.

I invite you to make choices that honor who you are and begin living in the fullness of who you were meant to be and while you come from that place of integrity, you’ll start unfolding the plan Life has for you: the chance to be the mom you were always meant to be!

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