We all know that happy parents make happy kids – and the other way round is true too. Usually, we assume that we’ll thrive as parents when we manage to control everything and make sure our children’s lives go as smoothly as possible.
But what if it was the opposite? What if the key was to let go and accept that we cannot control our children, their temperament or their experiences?
Here are five ways letting go can make you a happier parent.
Before I became a mom, I had a very idealistic idea of motherhood. I imagined all the great moments I was going to experience and how fulfilling it would be. However, when my first son was born, I started to realize that almost everything was different from what I had imagined.
For many years, I have been striving for perfection putting my own needs aside and losing myself in my role as a mom.
Even though I still catch myself beating myself up for not getting everything right from time to time. I came to the realization that trying to be perfect doesn’t make any sense. First, because it’s an unattainable goal, and secondly, because I wouldn’t wish any kid to have perfect parents.
The best thing you can do to be a happier parent is to let go of perfectionism and allow yourself to just be the parent and the person you are. You are perfect for your children and you are growing with them. Having authentic parents teaches our kids real life. They learn to adapt, respond, set boundaries, show empathy and so much more.
Ever heard of mom guilt? If you haven’t seen the expression yet, you certainly know what feeling I’m referring to if you’re a parent.
As parents, it seems that we have every reason to feel guilty:
- Guilty for taking time for ourselves/guilty for not taking care of ourselves
- Guilty for pursuing a career/guilty for not dedicating enough time to our job
- Guilty for not spending enough time with the kids/guilty for not getting things done
The first step to let go of guilt and be a happier parent is to accept that the feeling will never completely disappear. However, you can make a difference by changing your approach. Allow these feelings to arise and once you’ve accepted them, try to take some distance, understand where they might be coming from and let go.
It’s so easy to slip into a controlling behavior as a parent – mostly because the art of letting go is much more difficult.
We have expectations. And more often than not, these expectations don’t match with our kid’s. We think we know what’s best for them, but that’s usually what we tell ourselves as an excuse to decide for them. Drop your expectations and let them be who they are, help them find who they are. And remember they are not you.
In other words, it’s about guiding instead of controlling. It’s about allowing them to make certain mistakes and learn. It’s about showing them that failure is not an end but a step on the road to success. It’s about trusting your child and yourself.
Worrying too much
The day we learn that we are becoming parents is also the beginning of a seemingly neverending series of reasons to worry about our child. Of course, it’s natural to want the best for our kids, but we have to make sure our worries don’t sabotage our parenting.
First of all, thinking about what could happen in the future prevents you from enjoying the present moment. Enjoying the now with your children is one of the most precious gifts you can give them. Moreover, when we are preoccupied, we tend to focus on our fears which can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. In extreme cases, we can even end up projecting our fears on our children hindering them from making their own experiences and living their life.
One of the best ways to let go of this anxiety and be a happier parent is to accept that life goes with risks as well as unplanned events and that it’s impossible to prevent all bad situations from happening. I’d even go as far as saying that we shouldn’t prevent our children to live these experiences as that’s how they learn and grow.
As parents, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. Be it on TV, in magazines, in ads or on social media – we are surrounded by examples, stereotypes, and advice on family life and parenting.
Even though it can be interesting or even inspiring to get advice or hear what other parents are doing, these people are not you or your family. Parenting is a trial and error to find what works for you and your kids.
It’s also important that you avoid comparing your children to each other. It’s already difficult for them to find themselves and define their role in the family. Even when we think we are doing it in a kind way, comparing our kids with their sibling or friends is rarely pleasant for them.
So remember this: “The only person you should compare yourself with is who you were yesterday”. And you can do the same with your children to remind them how they evolved, learned and grew.
Letting go is propably one of the most difficult aspects not only of parenting but also of life. And you’ll probably notice that you’ll find it easier to do in certain areas than in others.
Allowing yourself to set free from perfectionism, guilt, worrying, controlling or comparing will allow you to enjoy the present moment and, most of all, listen to yourself and become a happier parent.