Parenting On Your TermsMay 25, 2023
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On this episode of Become A Calm Mama, we’re going beyond the problems with modern motherhood from last week’s episode and into the details of parenting on your own terms.
There is a lot of pressure to fit into society’s expectations, but the way we’re told to measure performance in motherhood can actually be harmful to our kids and to us as moms.
The goal isn’t to “perform” as a mom or to prove to others that you’re a “good” mom. This is what leads us to burnout, overwhelm and guilt.
Instead, I want to help you prioritize your child's emotional health, focus on building strong relationships with them and create a family and community that aligns with your values.
There is a lot of fear and worry in parenting. Things like…
I don't want my kid to grow up and not like me, not like themselves or not be liked by others.
I don’t want my kid to not know how to be in the world or how to be successful.
My kid isn’t going to be okay.
To alleviate our fears, we often try to do everything “right”.
We think that if we do everything perfectly, our kids won't experience pain or discomfort. They won't have any negative experiences, and you will have done your job as a mom.
But that's not how the world works. You cannot prevent pain or discomfort.
Your job as a parent is to give your kids the tools to navigate negative emotions and negative circumstances when (not if) they happen.
And one of the best ways we can do this is by letting them know they’re okay exactly as they are.
Parenting On Your Terms
Rather than parenting from fear, let’s parent from a place of leadership.
The first step to parenting on your own terms is deciding for yourself what is important to you.
I frame my parenting experience in terms of three goals:
- My kids’ emotional health and wellbeing
- My relationship with my kids
- My own mental and emotional wellbeing
When I make parenting decisions or decisions about how we spend our resources (i.e. time, money and energy), I always look at them through these three lenses.
There are times that I’ve had to drop some expectations on fitting in or showing up in a certain way in order to protect my kids’ emotional health or my relationship with them or my own mental wellbeing.
Sometimes, this looks selfish from the outside.
But it also allows me to go back to what matters to our family. The goals I’ve chosen for myself help me to look at a situation and ask, “Where are my kids right now, and what do they need help and support with?”
External v. Internal Validation
There are all these external ways that society judges our performance as moms. Things like your kids getting good grades, being kind to everyone, dressing well, being athletic, creative or funny.
These are things that society and our communities value. The reward is fitting in, being able to obtain resources and favors and connections because we (and our kids) show up in a way that is socially acceptable.
And if you don’t perform in these ways, there is a cost.
The fear of not being accepted or our kids not being accepted brings up major insecurities, and it can feel really scary to choose our goals over these social norms because we may not be accepted.
The problem is that when you work really hard at earning that social capital and acceptance, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and on your kids to perform at a certain level.
We’re afraid of how our kids’ emotional health will be affected by not being accepted. But true emotional wellbeing is internal. It comes from deep self love.
What your child really needs from you is to feel unconditional acceptance from their parent. Inoculate them from social harm by giving them the belief that they are okay exactly as they are.
When you find yourself comparing your kid to some standard in your head, it is an opportunity to pause, reset and reframe back to your standards and what is important to you.
Selfishness in Parenting
The underlying message we’re trying to avoid giving our kids is that they have to conform in order to be acceptable. They need to change in order for people to like them. They need to be better in order to be worthy.
And if we don’t want our kids to get that message, we have to get rid of it for ourselves, too.
It requires us to heal and gives us the opportunity to work out some of our own insecurities.
In our society, women are rewarded for being sacrificial. We are given social capital if we show up in this way.
And, unfortunately, we sometimes have to choose to give up some of this social credit or validation in order to gain emotional health. But taking care of your own wellbeing is the way you teach your kids to take care of themselves.
You get to decide what's most important to you as a mom, and you get to make decisions based on those things.
And yes, there might be some cost to it, but in the long term, the best thing you can give your child is that they like themselves. And you can give them that gift.
- The challenges of societal pressures and expectations in parenting
- How to redefine success in parenting
- Some of my favorite thought shifts and mindset tricks to come back to what’s most important
- Episode 69: The Problem with Modern Motherhood
Connect With Darlynn:
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