Wholehearted Parenting

If you know me, you know that I love books. In fact, most of the time I am in the middle of at least three books, actually who am I kidding; it’s more like four or five. I just finished Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly. It is easily in my top five favorite books. The last chapter I savored every word. In fact, it took me two weeks to finish and now I am sad. Thankfully, she has a new book coming out this month and I will definitely be getting it ASAP!

Anyways, back to the last chapter. I know a lot of you may never pick this book up, but this last chapter was the best in my opinion and something that every parent should, no excuse me, NEEDS to read. Its entitled Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to be the adults we want our children to be. Like I said, many of you may never read it, so I want to share some of the main ideas with you in hopes that you will want to go grab your own copy and read the book in it’s entirety for yourself.

The whole idea of this chapter can be summed up in this first paragraph:

“Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting. In terms of teaching our children to dare greatly in the “never enough” culture, the question isn’t so much “Are you parenting the right way?” as it is: “Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?”

In my opinion she could have ended the chapter there and still left us with an immeasurable amount of truth and wisdom.

However, she goes on to say “parenting is a shame and judgment minefield precisely because most of us are wading through uncertainty and self-doubt when it comes to raising our children.” If we have doubts that lurk beneath our choices as parents, she says, “that self-righteous critic will spring to life in not-so-subtle parenting moments that happen because my underlying fear of not being the perfect parent is driving my need to confirm that at the very least, I’m better than you.” Boom. Now if we are all honest, we can say that this has been our mindset a time or two when we have compared how much screen time so- and-so allows their children to watch verses how much I allow my own children to watch. Or what about looking down on someone because they fed their kids baby food from a packet, but you make yours from scratch. For crying out loud people, does this even matter in the grand scheme of things?? What matters is our children’s sense of love, belonging, and worthiness, which they first experience within our own unique and individual families. This should be our main concern as parents not how someone else is parenting. I love this next quote from her, “You can’t claim to care about the welfare of children if you’re shaming other parents for the choices they’re making. Daring greatly means finding our own path and respecting what that search looks like for other folks.” That is frame worthy right there people!

This next part really hit me hard because I catch myself doing this often. She shares advice that she learned from a fellow writer. “Ms. Morrison explained that it’s interesting to watch what happens when a child walks into a room. She asked, “Does your face light up?” She explained, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up…You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you are caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?” Her advice was simple, but paradigm shifting for me. She said, “Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”

I can’t tell you how many times I have been guilty of this and not just with my kids, but my husband too. Just this morning he walked into the kitchen and was dressed up for a speaking engagement. Instead of telling him how nice he looked, the first words out of my mouth were, “You need a new belt, that belt looks terrible.” Why…why do I do this?? Instead of looks of criticism, I want my face to light up when those I love most enter the room. We as parents have a lot of influence over how our kids think about themselves. Their sense of worthiness, of being enough, starts first in our families.  Not only that, but “if we want our children to love and accept who they are, our job is to love and accept who we are.”

What I’ve shared with you from this book, specifically this last chapter is only two small snippets of truth but they hold huge life changing wisdom. Parenting by far is the hardest and most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I have so much learning and growing to do, but I need the daily reminder that, “Who I am and how I engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how my children will do than what I know about parenting.”

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