Hindsight is 20/20

During stressful times it is really hard to practice all those great parenting skills we have learned.

Because we all have a history of some kind, we can’t rely on skills training alone to make long-lasting changes in our behaviour. Our fears and belief systems will get in the way. We need to dig deeper and challenge those old belief systems, otherwise no matter what our intention, we will find ourselves parenting in ways we don’t want to.

Patterns in our parenting are often reactions to how we were raised. If our parents were overly permissive, we may not have learned to compromise and consider other people’s needs. If we experienced a controlling parenting style, we are likely to feel tension and anxiety concerning our children’s behaviour. We may become controlling like our parents, or we may swing to the other end of the scale and become too compliant or permissive. We may not have a sense of where our personal boundaries exist because they weren’t respected when we were children.

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Your children may test you when you start to make changes so be prepared. If you’re letting go of being controlling, you may struggle if you see your children making mistakes when you don’t rescue them. You may feel embarrassed when your children dress funny, don’t do their homework on time or have messy rooms. If you’re learning to set limits and boundaries, you may have a hard time standing firm when your child yells “I hate you! You’re the worst parent in the whole world!”

Find a calm moment, maybe as you read this article. Review an unpleasant conflict with one of your kids:

• In looking back, what was the limit about?

• Does it represent a value or need that is important during this time?

• Does your child understand that value or need?

• What was the need of your child in this conflict?

• What has worked before?

• What would you do differently?

Reflecting back gives us the 20/20 insight that contributes to our parenting approach. We have to acknowledge that there are times that we simply don’t know what to do, or we do something we don’t like. Bringing these dynamics to our awareness gives us the opportunity to increase the possibilities for how we live our lives and know ourselves. Small positive changes that are doable, create the longest, most positive results.

Dr. Allison Rees
Dr. Allison Reeshttp://www.lifeseminars.com
Dr. Allison Rees is a parent educator, counsellor and coach at LIFE Seminars (Living in Families Effectively). lifeseminars.com.