Nothing makes you doubt yourself quite like parenting. Before you have kids you think you know it all and then you have a baby and by the time it’s a toddler you realize that you didn’t actually know anything, you just didn’t know what you didn’t know. It’s perfectly natural to struggle with believing in ourselves when parenting can be so stressful and confusing, but ultimately, we must trust ourselves and believe this journey with our child is our destiny. So if you know that something is good for them even if they don’t like it and are fighting you, don’t think that they know better. Stick to your guns, believe in yourself and do what is right for them.
2. Embrace Failure
There is no growth without failure and parenting gives you many opportunities to do just that. You will always fail. Just come to terms with it. There is nothing you can do about that. But what you can do is set up a home life that creates a positive environment for your toddler. With the right systems in place, you can bounce back quickly from your parenting fails and move on. You may even learn something about yourself in the process. There is no such thing as perfect parenting but with the right environment, you will be able to parent well more often.
3. Feel the Power
It doesn’t matter how high powered your job is, how easily you command the room or how many people like you, you have never had true power over someone else until you have a child. I remember the moment when I first started doing daycare that I looked around and realized the awesome responsibility of caring for 5 little lives. I realized that they were totally at my mercy and that everything I did would have a lasting impact on them. It was a significant moment for me, you may have had a moment like that when you brought your baby home from the hospital. It is scary to wield that much power over someone else, but in order to be an effective parent, you must embrace this power and not be afraid of it. Know that you have the power to make good decisions for them and to provide a stable environment in which they will thrive. Embrace your role as leader and commander of the little ship that is your home. Nobody will love that child more than you so have faith that you can handle the power that the universe has chosen to bestow upon you.
4. No Such Thing As Try
Parents are notorious procrastinators. We’ll go for a walk tomorrow, I’ll just let them get away with that this time, you know the drill. The problem is, that when you procrastinate the toddler years away you squander the most important years of their lives. Their brains are primed to learn and internalize specific lessons through specific sensitive periods during these years and if you miss that window it closes forever. So instead of just trying, just start doing!
5. Unlearn What You Have Learned
You think you know best. You think that because you have a child, you automatically know what is best for them. Maybe there is something you always planned to do when you had a child or something your mother always did with you. Know that just because you think something is right for your child doesn’t mean it is. And you will be the only one with the blind spot. Often we parent through the lens of our broken parts. Through the little child inside of us who felt abandoned or ashamed. Through the child who wanted desperately to be included but was never asked to play. When we parent through this lens we project problems that aren’t there or force them to fulfill our desires regardless of whether it is good for them or not. When we do this we amplify what is unhealthy in their lives because that is all we see, we make problems that aren’t there and feel we have to create little bots who will do everything that we did not. It soothes us when our child makes up for our lost childhood. Creating an environment that supports their development rather than your emotions is the first step you can take to insulate them from your emotional pitfalls. It’s easier than you think and can give you some breathing space to let a little objective light shine into your world.
Becoming a Jedi parent doesn’t mean being perfect or saving the universe, it just means believing in yourself, knowing you will fail, embracing your power, doing what is right and knowing that you are a fallible being with problems of your own. Parenting is hard but with a little wisdom you can do better every day.
If you enjoyed this article, you might like to check out my book. Download a free preview of the first two chapters of “The Automatic Parent: Systems for surviving and thriving in the toddler years” on Amazon or get the whole book with Kindle Unlimited.