Am I doing enough?
This is a question my wife and I often ask ourselves as we raise our 5 and 8 (she will tell you she’s almost 9) year olds:
· Are my kid(s) fulfilled enough?
· Are my kid(s) eating the right foods?
· Are my kid(s) mentally resilient?
· Are my kid(s) going to be able to handle this new form of school?
· Are my kid(s) happy?
And mostly…am I being a good parent? Will what I am able to offer as a parent ever be enough for my kid(s)?
Family life is full of joy but also filled with struggle. You are not alone in thinking this. There are many of us out there who constantly question our own ability to be parents: seemingly always regretting decisions with this, sometimes dangerous, phrase.. “if only”. Please know that this is normal. Checking in with yourself can also be healthy – but not if it initiates a perpetual cycle of self-doubt and low self-esteem.
Know that even your choice to be a parent – whether on purpose or by nature – was a brave choice. Raising children to be healthy, happy, and contributing citizens of society is a tough job, and there’s not really one right way to do it. There are things we struggle with in my family as well, but I do have some tips on how you can improve on family dynamics – especially between you and your child/ children.
1. Talk to your kids from an early age. This, by far, is the most important tip. Children feel most connected with their families from the ages of birth to the pre-teen years. By communicating with your kids on a deep level, from a young age, you are building a reserve of grace and goodwill for the leaner years of family life (aka…the teenage years). Don’t just ask how they are or about their day: ask pointed and specific questions about events in their lives so they can learn to formulate the language to share with you on a personal level.Teach them to be nice humans! It’s never too late to start if you haven’t been doing this already.
2. Don’t oversubscribe your kids. It’s so easy for us to try and sign our kids up for everything for the sake of giving them opportunity. It is, however, so important for US to learn that our kids aren’t actually good at everything and don’t like everything: sign them up for things they love and for things they can find success in. But make sure you leave them time to…
3. Play (this is my wife’s advice – she’s so awesome!). Let them play. Not just when they’re toddlers – but really, until the age they don’t want to play anymore (which is probably never). Let them be themselves and engage in their interests. Give them opportunities to be outside and to enjoy walking/ running/ hiking. Allow them to spend hours with Lego. Facilitate time to endlessly paint and draw. Honour their singing and dancing. Let them play.
As for you, how can you take care of your mental health/ stress level? Just two pieces of advice: take time for yourself and take time to rest. It’s ok to be a little selfish and enjoy time to yourself which goes hand in hand with rest. If you take the time to engage in your passions, you are resting your mind from the daily stress that life gives you.
I know that being a parent is difficult. I feel that every day. Please know you are not alone and that – even if you can’t see it – there are many of us taking this journey with you. Lean on us and allow us to lean on you: this is how we’ll make it. That is how we will know that what we are doing is definitely enough.
This was one of the topics on my weekly Facebook Live event with the https://stigmafreesociety.com which can be found on my videos section or on the Stigma Free Society’s Youtube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBcVHObJLew
Thanks for reading! Until next month!