*This piece was written for, and originally published at, The Unfit Parent
You know that feeling, right before you’re about to make a decision, or just after you’ve received great news? That feeling of a whisper in your brain that – unsolicited – weighs in with editorial comments?
For some of us, that voice is really encouraging, offering support and cheering us on, celebrating every win, congratulating as we go. And for some of us, that voice is far less encouraging, and sometimes even detrimental, telling us this will never last, that we’re not capable – or worthy – of anything good and that it’s only a matter of time before everyone else catches on to that.
What do those comments sound like to you?
We each have an inner voice that echoes in our head and depending on how aware you personally are of it, or how much you pay attention to it, you probably even know the exact origin of that voice: a parent, a teacher, a coach, relative, or family friend. Someone who had a heavy influence in our life.
As parents, we are that heavy influence in our children’s lives, which means we have the power and responsibility to be the voice we’ve always treasured or the voice we always wished we’d had. That means that even when we’re tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, or just plain freaked out, we have the responsibility to continuously show up for our kids in a respectful way. A kind way. A way that is free of rhetoric and sarcasm. A way that shows them we love them unconditionally, even if it’s during the heat of a moment in which everything else feels like it’s falling apart.
Does that mean endless praise, overlooking bad behaviour, and letting our kids have full control of the ship?
It means that one of our most important focal points as a parent is to consistently show up as the backbone of our family: strong and supportive, firm but kind, with enough bend and flexibility to accommodate the constant moving pieces. Through using language that demonstrates that strength and support in a compassionate manner, we are programming the auto-tune for our children that they will hear for the rest of their lives, guiding them as a metric in every experience and relationship they encounter.
No pressure, right?
If our job is to raise good humans – and it is – then we need to be good humans as an example for the ones we’re raising. And when we speak to them in a way we wish to be spoken to, then this becomes totally doable. You can do it.
Literally get into your child’s head, and make them know how great this life is, how they have all the gifts in them to make amazing things happen, and that you’re standing by to quietly high five them when they do.