What is the most important thing to you as a parent?
All of those sound important, but are they the MOST important part of parenting?
Parenting means weaving together so many different skills.
You keep your child warm, well fed, and safe. You care for their physical health, their emotional well-being, and their spiritual center.
You’re their cook, their chauffeur, their landlord, and their friend. You juggle housekeeping, paying the bills, and repairing the car.
Somewhere in there you try to teach a thing or two and have a little fun. Maybe you even safe-guard some personal time and private interests of your own.
You have so many priorities. How do you figure out what is most important and what you can let slide?
It turns out there’s one thing that’s more important than everything else.
It’s the quality of your relationship together.
Learning to parent with connection is the most important thing you can do as a parent. In some ways it’s the magic spell that - POOF - makes everything better. But…. (you knew there was a but coming, right?) connection is so different from how we may be used to relating that it can be hard to pull off at first.
I’ve broken it down for you to make it easier for you to know where to start.
Connection comes in three layers. These are three different ways to think about connection. When you stack them together over time, they make the magic happen.
Let’s start with the BIG one - your core connection.
Parenting with connection starts with a strong foundation. This is the basic sense of positivity running through your relationship.
I call it your Core Connection. It’s the strongest feelings you share with your child. The mutual emotional space you share together. The constant sense you have about each other no matter what is going on.
You’re out in public with your child. (Horror movie music begins.)
A restaurant. The park. The grocery store. (Dun-dun-dun.)
Your child does things that kids do. Some of them are loud or messy or angry or tearful or violent or rude. (Gasp!)
Your mind fills with the imagined expectations from other people. You think they think you should be stricter with your child. Keep them under more control. Stop spoiling them.
You may be right about what those people think.
Everyone has an opinion on how to parent. If you agree with me, then your ideas of what makes a supported, nurtured childhood are very different from the mainstream.
You cannot please those people.
There is no heroic parental magic trick that will sail you through this moment to receive the unadulterated praise of your audience.
You are going to fail at parenting.
At the moment you feel the piercing gaze of the disapproving judges, you have already failed.
Accepting this, embracing this, becoming at one with and at...
I was walking up the stairs behind my son one day and he was going SO SLOWLY!
I wanted to tell him to hurry up!
Or maybe I would try to push past him and go on ahead.
I have no idea what I was in such a hurry to get to, but I felt something a little bit like rage building up inside me. Not my best day, I guess!
On a whim, I started counting the seconds in my head. It’s an old coping mechanism for any time I have to wait.
I got to 7 before we got to the top of the stairs. Well, awesome! That didn’t take that long after all.
A few days later, I was helping him out of the car. He wanted to pause to put his shoes on, even though we were going straight into the house. Couldn’t he just grab them and go on in? There was that feeling again. I started counting.
I got to 8.
There are other times in our lives where the waiting is much longer. Baths sometimes seem to take forever! I have to use that time to do something else.
But what I’m talking about here are...
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