I know I am not alone as a parent if I tell you that throughout the course of the day I ask myself hundreds of questions about my parenting. Could I have handled that better? Am I too strict? Am I too soft? Do they eat enough vegetables? (Do Goodies Carrot Stix count as veg?) How much screen time is ok? Do I spend too much time on my phone? The list goes on. And on.
These questions are in essence a reflection of how I want to make sure that I have protected and nurtured my children to the highest possible standard which is great up until the point where it just makes me uptight! I think back to when I was a child and riding in the boot of my friend’s mum’s car was a massive treat, baby monitors weren’t invented and who wore sun cream unless you went abroad? This makes me realise that our despite all the readily available equipment and knowledge to protect children, confidence levels as parents are probably no better for it. We just find new things to worry about.
Being a thoughtful, reflective parent comes with the risk of over analysis and I see this repeatedly as I work as a coach with other parents. There is no point where it is easy to measure and relax safe in the knowledge that we’ve “got it right” and so the questions and self-doubt continue.
Coaching brings many benefits such as clarity, identifying goals, finding fresh ideas, but one of the outcomes I love the most are when I see a parent visibly uplifted as they pause and reflect on what they have done and what is going well.
So many parents do such an amazing job and when they pause to acknowledge this it is hugely empowering. When we parent from a place of confidence combined with thoughtful, reflective approaches then the ripple effect on our children can only be positive.
So today I would encourage any parents as you ask yourself multiple questions today to pause and ask yourself this very important one and then do so again and again each day until it becomes habit. Ask yourself – “WHAT HAVE I DONE WELL TODAY?” Don’t just ask that question – answer it too! If necessary write it down or tell someone. List the ordinary as well as the extraordinary – their clean(ish) clothes, the fact they are fed, the setting boundaries even though it can be a battle, the juggling work and family life – all that shows them they are nurtured and loved. Please don’t take these for granted. Mundane doesn’t mean unimportant. Too many children don’t have these things and I’m not talking about abroad.
Rather than dwelling on the fact that they spent a bit longer staring at a screen than you would have liked, that they spent most of the day wearing a top with a stain on it or that you didn’t engage in 3 hours of non-stop imaginary play with a bit of educational activity chucked in for good measure – look at all you have accomplished. Are your children physically and emotionally safe and well cared for? Your version of this might involve more screens, a bit of shouting and fewer vegetables than your ideal. It might even be everyone getting just through the day in one piece, but the point is focus on WHAT’S GOING WELL.
And for good measure here’s one more question – imagine for a moment you do this as a regular thing and your child sees that as well as evaluating what you could do better, you build a habit of focusing on what you’re doing well. What might be the ripple effects of this simple, but significant question?