Picture of Joy Wagner, LMFT-IT

Joy Wagner, LMFT-IT

Parenting with Empowerment

Is it possible to have peace amid the chaos of parenting? It is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless to accomplish the many demands of parenting along with trying to find some peace in the monumental task before you. Getting too short-sighted by thinking that the many challenges are what is stealing your peace will most certainly set you up for frustration. Here are a few things that you have the power to influence: your beliefs and intentions about your role as a parent, practicing daily self-care, and practicing self-soothing.

Your Beliefs and Intentions

There are a lot of influences (society, friends, families, strangers, etc.) who if given the chance would tell you exactly what they think about how you should raise your children. However, they were not given the responsibility of raising your children, you were given that responsibility. What is the result you hope for your children? When your child steps back and look at his/her childhood what do you hope stands out to him/her (memories, values, love, etc.)? What are your strengths and gifts that you would like to teach them or use to help them grow? Do you recognize/use your parental intuition in helping you make decisions and discern your child’s needs? Write a letter to your child not necessarily to give them but to help you identify these things.

Practicing Daily Self-Care

In the busyness of parenting, it is easy to not take time for your own needs. It is very tempting to put them on the back burner or to feel selfish for taking some time for yourself. This is especially tempting with babies and toddlers. It can then become a pattern of behavior that continues as the babies grow into children. No matter what your children’s age, it is essential to take the time to take care of yourself. It could be something simple as a 10-minute meditation, taking a nap while the children nap, going for a walk, or reading. It is okay to teach your children to leave you alone while you go to the bathroom or to stay in their rooms while you shower. It is okay to ask for support from your partner, family, or friends.

Practicing Self-Soothing

It may seem strange to use the words self-soothing in relation to an adult when usually we use it in reference to babies. Self-soothing is important to do as an adult to be less reactive to the stress and noise of parenting. It is so easy to fall into the belief that if our children would be better behaved or if life were less stressful, we could be less angry or overwhelmed. That belief is limiting and dis-empowering. Practicing a “Pause” in an overwhelming or frustrating moment can help us to react with more control and have more peace. The key word is practicing. You need to do it regularly. RAIN is an acronym that can help you remember the parts of a pause. Use it anytime you are feeling something that feels difficult. R is recognizing that something is bothering you is the first step. Sometimes we don’t realize that until our child does something that bothers us and then it is easy to over react and blame them. Next, don’t fight it but A accept that it is there. I is investigate with curiosity and kindness rather than judgement or criticism. Finally, N is non-blaming which means don’t identify or blame yourself for it. These are human experiences (emotions, thoughts, sensations) that happen to all of us. It is okay that they happen but what we do with those experiences is where our power lies.

There is so much we could talk about when it comes to parenting and so many ideas and theories. When it comes down to it, peaceful parents and happy kids is what parenting is all about. Our children are unique, and we are unique. Practicing some things like self-soothing and self-care while having some ideas of what we would like for our children will help us navigate all the challenges and chaos that life throws our way.

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