None of us are perfect parents, and sometimes family life can look all sorts of wrong. Whilst family can be difficult a lot of the time, the real challenge is holding a bright vision for your family no matter how things look.
I’ve not been a perfect parent, but I do have a very strong belief in a brighter future and have let this guide the way I respond to my own
mistakes and the challenges of parenting.
These are my top tips for holding a bright vision when things get messy!
When you read this, bear in mind I only get this stuff right about 30% of the time.
Teach in times of non-conflict
When our kids do stuff wrong it can get us real mad. Every parent has experienced that! The challenge is to remember that your kids are little people. As big people, when someone yells as us, hoping we will learn something, we don’t listen right? We know this to be true, and it’s true of our kids. The best time to teach character is later, once things have calmed down and the message you want to deliver can be communicated with unconditional love and a gentle heart.
Make your home a safe place to work stuff out
Your kids are working stuff out right under your nose. They’re making mistakes, sharing thoughts out-loud and generally trying to work life out. Is your place a safe space for them to do this? Do they feel judged and are they feeling listened to? Let them know you want your house to be a safe place to work life out, heck, as parents we need that too. Have boundaries, be consistent and also let your house be a place where you listen more and give advice less. Where everyone under your roof is free to fail, say sorry and work stuff out.
Win the relationship not the argument
Making our places a safe place to work stuff out will mean prioritising your relationship over your ideals. I’m not saying don’t have ideals, just a realisation that whilst what we want now for our children might be to live out our ideals, what we all come to really want in the future is a healthy relationship with our children, no matter what ideals they live to. I am not saying don’t have boundaries, clear and consistent boundaries are critical for young children, but as your children age they need increasing freedom without feeling judged and misunderstood.
Love first ask questions later
When your child does that really bad thing, that thing that you just can’t believe they did, perhaps the hardest thing to do of all is to love first and ask questions later. When a mistake is fresh, so is the shame. We can be really ashamed even when we won’t admit it. This is not a time to be talked at, it’s a time to feel loved and secure and know that someone is there to help you work things out.
As mentioned earlier, none of us are perfect and we might only get some of this stuff right some of the time. I hope the tips help!
Written by Mike Edwards – Co Founder, The Bright Vision Charitable Trust