Being a parent today is not easy. We are bombarded daily with tons of tips and advice on what is best for our children. The views are endless and whatever you do, there will always be someone with another opinion. And there is so much you should do in so many areas it is impossible to keep up.
You are supposed to feed the kids the right food, homemade food, organic food, breastfeeding, the right kind of stimulus, children have to go to the kindergarten or should definitely not to go to kindergarten, it is important to wear the child in a baby carrier, listening to the child’s scream as a signal is important but at the same time it is good to let the child scream, the child must learn to be alone.
In the midst of all advice, the most important thing for your child is usually missed, the one factor which makes your child feel good and develop optimally, namely you.
You as a parent are the most important factor for your child’s well being.
If you as a parent feel good, your child will too. Studies on newly depressed mothers have shown that the mother’s facial expressions are stiffer, show less mimic, and do not respond to their children’s signals. This reflects back on the child who is more annoyed and also shows less facial mimic. In other words, your child will be like you.
All in all, with the focus on giving kids the best in terms of food, toys, clothes, and education, we forget to give our children ourselves. The best thing you can give your child is your own time, it is both unique and irreplaceable.
Children lack the experience of adults have, yet they are competent in the sense of being able to read and feel moods and most often act on them. Have you ever wondered why your child always fuss, don’t listen, or just do the opposite of what you just told them when you are in a hurry, are stressed or in a bad mood? Adults often believe that children are not aware of how we feel because they can’t speak themselves or because we set up a happy facade or simply do not tell them what is going on.
This is incorrect, they understand that something is wrong but go wondering about what’s wrong. Depending on age and personality, it affects the child differently. Schoolchildren have a harder time managing school work because their thoughts are with the parents. Preschool children may become more easily irritated or more clingy while babies get annoyed, scream more, and want more closeness.
Being a parent is not simple, it is a whole business with the everyday family puzzle and all the administration it means, often with less sleep and time shortage. To top it all, there is less time for yourself and the relationship to your partner if there is one and to charge the batteries. In addition to this, there are also the requirements and the stress of following all the different advice that is sometimes seen as a must for your child’s development. You may also feel guilty because you do not have time for it all. But this is an impossible equation between time and chores.
What is considered optimal development today is not necessarily the same as normal development. Children have developed no matter where in the world they have grown up, what food and toys they have had. Children do not require organic homemade food, educational toys, or preschools. And they do not need a perfect super parent to develop; they need a well-being parent who has the time and the will to be physically and mentally present when there is an opportunity for it.
My advice to you (which you really should not listen to) is to take care of yourself by
- knowing what you want and can do. For what reason do you do things? For yourself or for the best of your child?
- saying no to what you do not want to do
- doing more of what gives you energy
- thinking about what matters to you and your child. Determine about three focus areas, focus on it, and ignore the rest. For some, homemade food is important but does not care much about going outside every day, for others physical closeness is important and carries their children in baby carriers instead of walking them in a stroller.
The point is that we are all different and focus on different things in our parenthood. Doing everything perfectly is not the same as being a good parent, if so you miss the most important thing, yourself.