Recently I took my child to Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey. It’s a beautiful place to spend time with kids. My boy had fun running back and forth from the water to the beach. After a while, another mother came to the beach with her two children ages 4 and 6 and put her blanket and beach toys near us.
I had almost no choice but to observe the mother and kids interacting. The mother was overly involved with the kids who just wanted to play. She was correcting, pestering, and interrupting them from play, also directing and redirecting. After an hour, she announced it was lunch time and ordered the kids to follow her.
I don’t know her story, but I feel truly sorry for that woman and her children. It seems to me that the mother’s anxiety drives their relationship.
Don’t get me wrong, anxiety over the safety of our children is inherent in parents. We get anxious about our kids for a reason. We love, we care, and we want great things for them. If you think about it, anxiety occurs more often and more intensely as we get closer to someone.
I have been paying close attention to my reaction to anxiety-provoking situations. It didn’t take me long to recognize that I use disengagement as a way of not letting myself react. However, then the anxiety builds inside me. It feels like I am failing the task of being a good parent.
No other feeling is able to call us to personal growth like anxiety.
The mother on the beach is using an authoritarian style of raising her children. The negative to that style is children have no voice which results in a feeling of being slaves. In the long run, these kids will look to people outside themselves to decide what to think and how to act. In order to create the best relationship, the mother has to learn to calm herself down.
My style of parenting is permissive; the negative side of which is the power struggle. I caught up with my personal dilemma when I realized my child is missing routine, structure, predictability and boundaries. To create the best relationship, I need to grow up myself. So my child can see that I am a stable and consistent parent.
I became curious, if I found a way to handle anxiety differently, would it eventually lead to changes in parenting style? Would it help in raising a self-directed, decisive, and responsible child?
The goal: Asserting yourself as the authority in the family. Making expectations and rules very clear without a hint of anger or anxiety. You are a calm and collected authority, a leader who earns respect and expects obedience.
Whatever comes up at any given moment, you can handle it!
That is the power you have if you can determine what you need, what your child needs, and if you can hold both you and your child’s needs with equal importance.
Mindful Practice for the Week
This week, practice holding you and your child’s needs with equal care. Then, problem-solve with your child to find ways of meeting both.