I don't know that most parents really understand just how POWERFUL they are in the making or breaking of their child's self worth and life's successes or failures. The reality is the foundation of our confidence and ability to have really strong, satisfying relationships in life all begin VERY early on - in the hands of our parents. (Don't worry this isn't going to be an article about how we can blame our parents for all of our "stuff") However, if I could wave a magic wand and give moms and dads one crucial tool, it would be to understand the power they hold so that they would be VERY INTENTIONAL about each and every moment they parent their child!
It all begins in-utero as our brains are being wired. The choices our biological Mother makes (or doesn't/can't make) has impact on our experience of who we are and how valued we are. In infancy, we began to read cues from our parents and to integrate them into our beliefs about ourselves. Toddlerhood brings the first opportunities to experience the concept that we can make a positive impact on our world. Preschool years are when the building of a strong verbal relationship is begun between child and parent. And the school-age years are when, among other things, we develop our own personal style and strengths as we go out into the world, always knowing we have a soft place to land - our parents. It doesn't end there. Young adults still look to their parents for acceptance and understanding, which affects all other relationships (jobs, marriages, etc). And finally when we, the children, are parents ourselves, we look to our own parents again for input and acknowledgement. A powerful relationship!
In the midst of our automated, fast-paced, competitive world, it is SO easy to forget that we as parents play a role in our children's lives that can make the difference between struggle and flourish. And (as they say) with great power comes great responsibility.
Parents, be wary of becoming emotionally unplugged from your child. So many times we miss crucial moments when we are stuck in our own stuff. Make consistency your goal. Showing up for someone again and again no matter what is happening in life sends a strong message that the recipient is very valuable to you!
Communicate clearly. Don't underestimate the message sent by the look in your eyes or the tilt of your head or the sigh or silence. If misinterpreted, this kind of language creates doubt and shame. Stop what you are doing because this is your most important job...translates to YOU (my child) are VERY important to me and therefore the world.
Be sure to see your whole child. Parenting your child with all his gifts and challenges in mind instead of what everyone else is doing will create successful experiences for him - ultimately creating self-esteem and a deeply integrated understanding that he IS worthy of goodness in his life. When we believe we are worthy of goodness, we create goodness.
Self-esteem and the belief that you can make a positive impact on the world are the key elements to living a life that is flourishing! As parents, we create the foundation for a lifetime of continued building.
Let's build it strong and functional.
Let's maintain it through all the challenges.
Let's break free from doing it like everyone else is doing it.
Let's fight to stay plugged in no matter what.
Let's be INTENTIONAL in our parenting every step of the way.