The internet along with social media have changed our world, including the way we parent. It may not be enriching our lives as much as we may think it is. All that glitters is not gold!
For me, the most important skill when sifting through information has been my own judgment. I have to remind myself that nearly everything posted on the internet is the opinion of someone else. It is not fact and even when it is presented as such, it often is not. The time I have wasted reading through the opinions of others is time I cannot get back!
Today I saw a post that stated our children should come first, even before ourselves. This sounds so honorable. It sounds so perfect and loving, except that I know from real life experience that it does not lead to a perfect and loving parent.
My experience along with my knowledge has given me the wisdom to question this false belief masquerading as perfect sounding advice. Putting the needs of my children before mine did not make me a better parent. It made me a parent whose only identity was that of a mother. A parent that became frustrated easily and sometimes lacked the patience and clarity a little me time may have provided.
My needs were just as important. Thinking my needs weren’t important left me feeling – well, not important. This is not a place you want to be when parenting. Shaming other parents for their need to have personal space or a part of their life that is not all about their children does not empower, it disempowers. Like the airline that tells you to give yourself oxygen before your children, parents must sometimes put their own needs first.
One of our most important parenting roles is that of role model. When we teach our children that they are the most important thing in the world, we teach them entitlement. When we teach them to put others’ needs before their own, we teach them victimization. When we teach them to be at the mercy of others, we teach them martyrdom.
Many parents are merely trying to lesson the feelings of unworthiness from their own childhood, but at what expense? Are we acting in the best interest of our children or are we reacting to our own unmet childhood needs? We don’t need the internet to tell us that our children are not here to meet our unmet needs of childhood.
Reflect more deeply on your unmet needs and you will see that it wasn’t that your parents didn’t put you first all of the time. Recognize the perspective of your parents and try to learn from the lesson of the experience. If a parent was more attentive to their alcohol, did they have an addiction they didn’t have the skills to manage? Instead of assuming they didn’t love you enough, know that they didn’t love themselves enough. Learn from this and learn to love yourself enough instead of trying to prove your love by sacrificing parts of yourself. Your children learn from how they see you treat yourself, actions often speak louder than words.
Many of us learned boundaries the hard way by being punished. This did not actually teach us the boundaries we need to thrive, it taught us we deserved to be punished. So we choose not to punish our children, and inadvertently don’t teach our children boundaries. By trying not to be like our parents, we end up with the same results our parents did. Teaching boundaries isn’t the problem, using punishment to teach them is.
Children have a basic need to feel safe and to know the limits for their behavior. If they don’t know the limits, they will often act out until they are able to figure out where the limits are. This is one of the reasons children act out.
Communicating with our children is far more effective at teaching boundaries than punishment. I have worked with youth long enough to know that they thrive when you communicate boundaries to them. Most importantly, they feel safe when they understand the boundaries.
Everyday I see parents allowing their children to incessantly interrupt their conversations, their work, their personal time. These children have not been given the boundaries they need to feel secure and so they test by interrupting. This test is merely their way of figuring out the limits.
Telling them before you get on the phone not to interrupt you and then not responding to their interruptions teaches your child limits. It empowers them with the information they are naturally seeking without punishing them for being children.
You do not need the internet to tell you these basic parenting skills. Searching for them could lead you down a never ending rabbit hole of countless opinions. Instead of searching outside of yourself you can start by being present with your children and embracing their perspective.
Imagine what it feels like to be them. How would you feel if your parent was on the phone and not available to you? Would it help to know that when they are finished with their call, they will attend to your needs? Then tell your child this and make sure when you get off the phone you check in with them.
Many of us are trying so hard to undo our childhood programming that we are going to extremes that send confusing messages to our children. You can learn to identify the limiting and false beliefs that surround us and sometimes consume us.
Another social media post asked people to recall something their parents said to them as a child. One of the responses was “honesty is always forgiven.” Parents loved this and were so excited to use it with their children.
This appears to be a loving statement used to encourage honesty in our children. Look deeper. Why would we want to purposely teach our children to think they aren’t always forgiven? Forgiveness is not conditional. And, can we guarantee that honesty will be forgiven? If someone murders but is honest about it, are they always forgiven? Do we want to teach children that some are forgiven and some are not? Aren’t all children forgiven?
Sometimes we think we are teaching our children important things such as honesty, but we are only confusing them and sending mixed messages. Honesty is taught when parents role model honesty for and to their children.
When we parent based on limiting beliefs, we limit our children. Instead of looking to others or searching for answers we can look to ourselves. We can learn to question what we were told as children, as well as what we read on social media and the internet. We can learn to think before we teach our children similar things. We can spend less time randomly searching or reading information on the internet and more time connecting directly with our children and reflecting on our own experiences.
I invite you to become more aware of the information that you, as well as your children are being exposed to through the internet and social media. Is the information the same as having wisdom or is it just a jumble of the opinion of others expressed to meet some unmet need of childhood? Embrace your own wisdom. Consider your own core beliefs and values and spend time reflecting on the decisions you make. Strive for wisdom and not just knowledge and teach your children to do the same.
Thank you for listening to this week’s episode of “21st Century Culture” brought to you by Keara Kisses.
I invite you to take a break from information as you tune into your own guidance system and access the wisdom that exists deep inside of you. Remember to use discernment when you process new information and determine if it resonates with your beliefs that expand instead of limit you.
In our next episode of “21st Century Culture” we will explore how labels are impacting our children.
For more information on my individual and parenting support groups, retreats and services visit kearakisses.com.
Thank you for listening. Until we meet again, keep wondering.
These blogs are written from my personal perspective. I have over thirty years of experience investigating, counseling, assessing and understanding the nature of humans. I look forward to creating a connection with you and sharing reciprocal positive experiences, comments and feedback about your life experiences and opportunities for growth. Please feel free to comment below. Positive comments only please.