As a parent, I know how challenging parenting can be. Each stage of child development comes with many rewards but, we all struggle along the way.
There is no such thing as perfect parenting but if we set an intention to provide a foundation of LOVE and BELONGING and add in 5 other essential components, we can do our best to provide a home with successful, confident children and a true appreciation of what it means to be a family.
This blog post explores the foundational components of LOVE and BELONGING. In future posts I will dive into the other essential puzzle pieces
Love is something we can grow and nurture within our families, it is not something that we just get and give. It grows from our actions, when we show respect for one another, extend kindness, model trust and continuously show affection to one another. While this seems like common sense, we know that it is something a lot of families are missing or it is often not present in a consistent way. When things get tough, we sometimes don’t show respect, we sometimes blame and even shame the people we are closest to, and we withhold affection – each of which can damage the roots from which love grows.
We come by this honestly. Many of us were parented in this way and sometimes we say and do the things that were said and done to us as children.
If we can be mindful of how these negative actions can affect our children and recognize that they don’t contribute to the nurturing, loving relationship we are trying to build with them, we can be more successful in laying down the foundation of love in our families.
A-ha parenting tip:
When our children hear statements that you direct at them like: “You’re so messy” or statements that you direct at yourself like: “I’m so stupid” they are more likely to grow up speaking to themselves in this self-critical, shaming way. They are shaming statements because they are aimed directly at the person not at a problem. Instead, consider saying something like this:
“You left a mess in your room, please go clean it up” rather than “You’re so messy”
“I dropped the saucy spoon on the floor, that wasn’t so smart”, rather than “I’m so stupid”
The statement “we can only love others a much as we love ourselves” is a tough one for many parents because we often think of giving our children ALL of our love regardless of how we feel about ourselves. BUT think about it…if we are self-critical, our children hear that criticism “louder” than they hear us encouraging them to be loving towards themselves.
“What we ARE teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must BE what we want our children to become” ~ Joseph Chilton Pierce ~
Putting Love into Action:
I would like to encourage you to do an activity with your family that helps integrate the action of LOVE in your home.
Draw a heart –
Within the heart write all of the things that Love IS for your family (let everyone in your family contribute at least one statement)
Outside of the heart write all of the things that LOVE ISN’T (again, let each member offer one statement)
This activity can be seen as a kinder, more positive way to establish ground rules and to be explicit about your family values.
What will you write in your LOVE IS section?
These are my responses:
– Respecting others for being themselves
– Modeling trust – making sure we are consistent with: extending affection, being loyal, setting good boundaries
– Being kind to others even when you are hurting (If you are struggling with this, it may be a signal that you need to practice some self-care)
– Showing empathy
What will you write in you LOVE ISN’T section?
These are my responses:
– Name calling
– Making fun
– Withholding affection
If we can provide a home where our children feel they can be themselves – no matter what and not be judged for it, they will develop a true sense of belonging.
Keeping in mind, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our own level of self-acceptance.
Our sense of belonging in families is really important when we consider how siblings treat each other sometimes – with undermining, sarcasm etc. As parents, if we can role model belonging for them and establish ground rules that maintain this sense of belonging, it will be a constant reminder to provide that in your home.
Putting Belonging into Action:
You could establish a list of what belonging means in your family and what belonging doesn’t mean for your family by making a list of permission statements for your family.
What will you include in your permission statements?
In our family we have permission to:
– Be silly
– Be ourselves
– Make mistakes
– Ask for help
These two foundational pieces really do set the stage for cultivating a family that cares deeply and provides the sense of safety that allows each of its members the opportunity to develop confidence in themselves to live a wholehearted life.
Courageworks (2016) – The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: A Wholehearted revolution
Brené Brown (2013) – The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting
Stay tuned for future blog posts that will explore the important puzzle pieces of:
– emotional literacy