You tell me that you will do anything for your children. As a parent coach I hear this all the time. I know you love your children. Your heart is in the right place and your intention is good. You want your children to grow up healthy and happy–we all do. My advice is always the same. Take care of yourself. Make yourself a priority. Instead of searching for the perfect words, demonstrate what it means to live a life of happiness and meaning.
You want to give your children what you didn’t have, but you can’t give them what you don’t have. Take time for yourself so you have the energy to really be with your children. There is no perfection. Parenting well is a practice. Start with simple steps. Get up an hour before the kids so you have some time for quiet. Go on dates with your significant other. Spend time with your friends. Sit outside and enjoy nature. Find your interests and try new things. Take deep breaths. Your children learn by watching how you live, not just by listening to what you say.
Learn to love your body, respect other people’s opinion, let go of guilt and practice forgiveness. If you do, your children will develop these skills easily. Treat your significant other with respect and develop empowering relationships with friends so your children understand what a positive relationship looks like. Take time to have fun, embrace your inherent gifts and talents, and continue to grow and change. Teach your children to expect good things from life.
Some days are overwhelming and you experience strong emotions like sadness and anger. Challenging feelings are the natural balance of life. Feel them, process them, and release them. If you don’t, they will leak out onto the people you love the most. Embrace your full range of emotion and allow your children to do the same. Discover tools to deal with your feelings and share them with your children. If you need new tools, ask for help. Teach your children that real strength means knowing when to seek support.
Make mistakes and learn from them. Apologize and practice humility. Laugh, love, grow and evolve. The most powerful parenting tool is role modeling. Give your children the gift of your own happiness.
Cathy Cassani Adams, LCSW, CPC is the author of The Self-Aware Parent: 19 Lessons for Growing with Your Children. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Parent Coach and Yoga Instructor. She lives in Elmhurst, IL with her husband and three daughters. Contact Cathy at www.cathycassaniadams.com.
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