It seem that we moms are always seeking more of something: more harmony with our children, more calm & confidence in our parenting, more connection with our partner, more uninterrupted sleep. (That last one is its own entire book, but…) You can get surprising traction on the rest by putting the power of example to work for you in a few simple ways!
Example — principle #4 of Parenting for Peace — is the ultimate mode of teaching and learning. Meaning, we are most influenced by example. In my book I focus mostly on ways to teach and influence your child through your own example, but let’s zoom out one step and use example to influence YOU. (Which, in a sneaky twist of paradox, is truly the best way to influence others!)
Here are a few powerful ways of influencing yourself toward shifting into more of what you’re seeking through harnessing the power of example in unexpectedly simple ways.
Seek Out Worthy Models
As mothers we are expected to be unceasingly worthy models for our children. But who are our models? This is a fruitful question to pose to yourself, lest you end up (like so many do) unconsciously adopting cultural norms as your examples. (Think sitcoms and reality shows.) When we consciously seek out worthy models, it enriches us in our 24/7 role-model job through the unstoppable power of example.
- Whom do you admire? Make a list of these people, and note the specific reasons for your admiration. And you can even think specifically about mothers you admire — famous or not — and spend time in their presence, through a biography, in person, or in writing and conversation (for me one of these admired women was Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom!)
- Read/watch a biography of someone who has qualities you would like to cultivate in yourself, such as confidence, self-possession, grace-under-pressure.
- Place an image of this admired person where you’ll see it often.
Find the Queen in You
A great Waldorf kindergarten teacher, Patty McNulty, taught me something important about the power of example. She said, “Mothers, find the queen in you, and fathers, the king.” A child needs to sense a dignity about her parents and about their attitude toward parenting (and thus, to her).
Sometimes our insecurities are expressed as silly humor that undermines this dignity. One father would deliver his son to the kindergarten classroom by hoisting him off his shoulders over his head and announcing in a goofy voice, “Here’s my trained monkey!” Such a scenario doesn’t fit this elevated atmosphere we seek. Of course you can — and should — be playful on a regular basis, but let it be from a place of deeply sensing and owning your own dignity and that of your child.
Seek out and cultivate your inner nobility, benevolence, and knowing authority. Sometimes just recognizing the importance of this helps you do it!
Attract the Change You Seek
Whatever we surround ourselves with becomes a shaping force on our being. Peacefulness, order and beauty in our environment support our inner wellbeing and health, from cells to organs to the whole bodymind system. Clang, clutter and chaos, on the other hand, can also become embodied physically and mentally. As without, so within.
Even if it takes a Herculean act of will, do your best to shape your surroundings according to what you would like to cultivate in your life. Baby steps. Some decluttering here, some beautifying there.
You can begin as simply as this: find an image or two that exemplifies what you’re seeking — harmony, confidence, connection… and, what the heck, sleep — and place them where you’ll see them often. As you gaze at the image, feel gratitude for experiencing that blessing right now.
A wonderful mantra to help attract the change you seek: “It is already done, and I am so grateful.”
Image by The Sean & Lauren Spectacular through a Creative Commons license.
About Marcy Axness
I’m the author of Parenting for Peace: Raising the
Next Generation of Peacemakers, and also the adoption
expert on Mothering’s expert panel. I write and speak on
prenatal, child and parent development and I have a private
practice coaching parents-in-progress. I raised two humans,
earned a doctorate, and lived to report back. As a gift to
Mothering readers I’m offering a unique 7-step parenting tool, a
“Quick-Start Guide to Shifting Your Child’s Perplexing, Stuck Behaviors.”