This is the first article in a three-part series on “Thriving as a Mum”
Everyday I see articles, posts, memes, comments about how we’re all just winging it at parenting. Well we don’t! The thing is, we all had parents. We will parent the way we were parented unless we consciously choose something different. No mum gives birth to a baby and knows nothing. Left to her own devices she’d work it out, even if it was pure trial and error. She’d draw on things she’s seen in the past, those around her, from the media and from her own childhood.
The unconscious brain stores all of our experiences. Everything that has happened in our lives is stored deep within our unconscious brain, within the filing cabinets, ready to be retrieved at any moment. Have you ever suddenly remembered something from your childhood because of something you’ve seen or heard or even smelled? That’s your unconscious brain, retrieving a memory and linking it to something in your present frame of reference.
The same thing happens with parenting, we’re just not consciously aware of it.
Have you ever had a moment where something slips out of your mouth and you think to yourself “gosh I sound just like my mother?” Well that’s because you’ve absorbed her parenting style. The 0-7 age group is called the imprint years where our children are little sponges and soak up everything that is said to them, done to or with them and that happens in their world. Fast forward to when they choose to have children and all the information they soaked up during this period about being a parent is thrust into their world.
When I hear a mum say that she is just ‘winging it’ it frustrates me on two levels, firstly that she’s not giving herself enough credit for drawing on all the sources of parenting examples in her world and that she hasn’t consciously thought about the type of mum she wants to be.
Some of us might be perfectly happy to be the same type of parent than we had, others are not. Patterns of parenting behaviour continue through the generation unless someone breaks the cycle. Just look at the whole “I was spanked and I turned out okay” argument to the ever increasing body of research on the damages of spanking as a discipline technique.
Consciously choosing to be the type of mum we want to be is one of the most empowering things that we can do.
It doesn’t mean that we are ungrateful for those around us who have provided their advice and example. It doesn’t mean that we are ungrateful to our own parents. It means that we are going to raise our children on our own terms.
At the end of our lives, or when our children simply move out of home and have less and less need for our direct parenting, we will ask ourselves if we did we do our best. If you don’t want to have any regrets then you’ll want to be able to reflect and say “I did the best that I could, had a great time and raised a awesome child who I’m proud of”. Our best is not doing what others want us to do, our best is doing what we want to be doing. It’s fun, fulfilling and satisfying and ultimately gets the results you want – raising the best child you can who’ll be a great adult and a positive force in the world.
Are you happy with the type of mum that you are? Do you feel overly influenced by those around you? Do you feel unable to parent your child the way you want to because of judgement and unhelpful comments by friends, family or even random strangers?
If any of those ring true for you then keep your eyes peeled for the next in this series: Your Ideal Mum.
Have a gorgeous day