Serve your children your best
Our family is a ‘foodie’ family. We love experimenting with new tastes and flavours. When you serve a meal, you would normally serve the best to your guests, right? You don’t give them the scraped parts at the bottom of the pan. When we parent our children, we should love and serve them in the way that we know that they get us at our best. Our children thrive when the get to enjoy the best parts of us and not the dregs.
In using this analogy, I don’t mean that we need to perform or be on our very best behaviour for them but that we ensure that we have enough energy left over for them at the end of the day. This thought has been at the forefront of my mind recently. We have been very busy running two international conferences and haven’t had much time to be at home with our children. In being able to enjoy your children and them enjoy you, there has to be an element of joy and capacity.
Capacity can be defined as the ability to do something and in this case, it is the ability to parent well. It’s the ability to give your children the love and acceptance they need. Capacity is the ability to emotionally engage with them. It’s the capacity to tickle and laugh and it’s the ability to ask them questions for an upcoming test. Yes, it’s all of those things and a myriad of other seemingly insignificant tasks.
In Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last, he says that a child’s sense of well-being is affected less by the long hours their parents put in at work and more by the mood their parents are in when they come home. This is an encouraging thought. Our mood and attituded affects our children more than we realise. For those who are involved in working with people emotionally need to be particulary aware of this point. Don’t give too much away that when you come home there is hardly anything left in your emotional tank.
I’ve also heard it said that it is helpful to have a going home routine so that at the end of the day, your brain knows that it’s time to transition. Do you need to go for a run, have a cup of tea or mentally close the office door and open a welcoming front door to your home. Resilient parents know that it is important to find joy. Do something once a day to make you smile:)
Because your kids grow up, they will naturally go through a number of stages. At each stage of their development they need something different from you. A newborn needs almost all of your physical attention poured out into their lives. As they get older, they need you to be present but in different ways. Sometimes, they need you to engage with them mentally and help them navigate decisions and life directions. Sometimes, they just need you to hug them and sometimes they need you to put firm boundaries in place. Being a mother or a father is a full-time profession.
Serve your children the best part of you – it’s a worthwhile investment in both of you.