“I hate you mommy!”
You stop dead in your tracks and flash a sheepish grin. You immediately feel like thousands of eyes are focused solely on YOU and your screaming child who has just reached DEFCON 1 (defined by Wikipedia as nuclear war is imminent) in the shopping buggy at Toys R Us. You calmly try to explain to “ballistic baby” that you are not there to buy them a toy but rather to get a gift for so-and-so’s birthday party. Of course your kid wants none of it and you quickly scour the aisles for the first available hole to crawl into so you can escape the whispered comments and disapproving glances of the shoppers all around you.
Sound familiar? If you are a parent, chances are good that you have experienced this scenario at least once in your lifetime. While you read this scenario, how did you react? Did you notice your heart starting to beat faster, heaviness in the pit of your stomach? Maybe you noticed you were clenching your jaw.
These reactions are likely due to the fact that when our children misbehave in public we feel that the people who witness it are judging us. Our sense of self, aka ‘the ego’, gets attacked and we take it personally. Our ego is the mechanism that makes us care deeply about what other people think about us. And unfortunately, it drives us to do things even when they don’t FEEL right or genuine.
In other words, we sometimes parent our kids in a way that we might not inherently agree with but we do it because we want to LOOK GOOD to others. So we follow whatever parenting advice happens to be in vogue at the moment, or the rigid black and white rules our own parents insist on, or methods the school imposes, or what has worked for our friends, co-workers or the impeccably dressed lady who sat next to you on the subway with her four well groomed, well behaved children in tow.
However, anyone with a kid or two, or seven, knows that there is no such thing as black and white when it comes to raising your children! No two kids are alike so how can we, in good conscience, parent from a place of one size fits all?
Now some of you may feel like the rug has just been pulled from beneath you and wondering, “if I am not supposed to base my parenting on any of those things, then how exactly am I supposed to ensure my child grows up to be a healthy, functional adult one day?”
The answer is to use the best gift you have ever been given…your inner compass or the “gut feelings” that you have. This fabulous tool, also known as intuition, is like a lighthouse guiding the way in the storm but unfortunately, most of us have been taught, from a young age, not to trust these feelings. Without this inner guidance, most people flounder in life, not trusting themselves in the decisions they make and feeling like they need to turn to others (like experts and gurus) for validation, clarity and direction. So it’s no wonder that when they implement these “teachings” it feels false or phony and is not effective.
Kids aren’t stupid. They have an almost super-human ability to sense phoniness and if you aren’t buying the parenting methods you are implementing you can bet dollars to donuts they aren’t either!
So stop doing them (and yourself) a disservice by being bullied into the “right vs. wrong” way of parenting. Instead, learn to tune into your intuition and follow what you know is right in your own heart.
Sure, others may criticize your methods but as Wayne Dyer says, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” In other words, so what?! People will form an opinion of you one way or the other and there’s not much you can do about it. So instead of worrying about it, just focus your time and energy into being the best YOU/PARENT that you know how to be.
I think Steve Jobs said it best when he said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life and don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”