I have been asked many times to write about conscious parenting, and to be honest, I have held back. My Mean Girl told me, ‘You’re not a ‘real mum’ because you didn’t give birth to Leo’. Oh, and another goody was, ‘You can’t really comment on parenting Melissa because Leo didn’t come out of your vagina’. Hilarious, huh?!
But, knowing that this was an important topic to share with you (and not wanting to let my Mean Girl run the show) I mastered her with my 3 step process and got down to business writing this deeply personal (and hopefully deeply useful) article.
Now, before we dive in, let’s be clear: No, I didn’t birth Leo... But I raise this divine little being 50% of the time. I am an equal parent and I choose to actively be involved in bringing up this angel. I also understand and respect that having one child is very different to having three or five or a whole football team of little tykes (!). To be honest, none of us can ever fully understand the unique circumstances of other parents, and we can make things very difficult for ourselves when we make assumptions. But what I do know — without doubt — is that these 6 tips I am about to share with you are universal truths, and they apply not only to your children but to ALL your relationships. (So, before you skip this post and think this is just for the parents, hold up sista because ANYONE can benefit from reading this!)
I also want to preface this post by saying that I am not claiming to be a parenting expert. I am simply sharing what has worked for me (and my husband) and what has made my life a lot more joyful.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the six insights that have helped me become a better parent, wife, friend and human. (Warning: What you are about to read isn’t taught and may challenge some of you. Stay open!)
1. Understand Their Love Language
I recently wrote about how understanding your partner's love language can radically improve your relationship. This post went off. But it doesn’t only apply to your partner. By understanding your kid’s and even your friend’s love language, you are setting yourself up for some kick-ass connections. Leo’s love language is quality time and if I am constantly buying him gifts or giving him words of affirmation to show my love, it can sometimes fall on deaf ears. Which will most likely lead to me feeling upset, angry and frustrated and think he is ungrateful or being a brat — and the poor kid has no idea what he has even done wrong! Now that I know quality time is his number one, I can make sure to shower him in love in the way that means the most to him.
Sometimes that might look like 30 minutes of deep quality time squeezed in between school activities, and sometimes it’s an entire day of love and attention on the weekend. And sometimes, all he needs is 10 minutes of soccer with his dad and his love tank is overflowing. To be honest, the length of time is irrelevant. What matters most is that his love tank is being filled by getting that focused, love-filled, quality time with each of us.
In Gary Chapman’s best selling book The 5 Love Languages of Children, he teaches you how to identify what your child's love language is and gives you so many great ways and ideas on how you can implement these into your everyday life to fill your child’s love tank up. And please note that every child will be different, so if you have 3 kids you will need to work out what each of their love languages is and act accordingly. Have fun with it and enjoy filling up each of your little angel’s love tanks.
2. Just Listen
So often, when our children come to us with a problem, the first thing we want to do is put on our ‘fix it’ hat. But most often, the problem will be resolved if we just simply listen. People (even little humans) just want to be heard, and so often by simply speaking something out loud it helps us resolve the issues in our mind. But the yang part of us wants to fix, fix, fix. Instead, stay in your softness and practice conscious listening. Don’t comment. Don’t try to fix, hold space for them and be fully present and with your child when they are expressing. Don’t be distracted by your phone or someone else. This can be one of the most challenging things to achieve, but when you open your heart, be present with your child and just listen, you will be amazed at what unfolds and how they can even resolve it within themselves. It’s very beautiful to witness.