Be honest. Do you make the practice of self love a habit in your everyday life? The biggest mistake that parents make is falling into the habit of being too busy to take time for ourselves, to nurture the relationship we have with ourselves, and to use the excuse of being too busy to practice self love. Practicing self love makes you a better parent, so let’s talk about it.
I had never heard of the term self-care when I was growing up. Self-care, as I knew it, wasn’t anything more than reading a story out of Chicken soup for the Soul and feeling emotion take over me as I empathized with the character who had lost his leg in an accident or a spouse to cancer.
Remember those? They were always so sad…but insightful. They made me ponder life and feel gratitude for the simple things by sharing the stories of others whose lives were less fortunate than mine.
I wonder whatever happened to the Chicken Soup books?
I believe that self love may start with empathy and gratitude, but it is so much more involved, encompassing so many more parts of your life than many people talk about.
Self love is more of a lifestyle than something you practice when you’ve finally hit your breaking point.
Only recently has self-love been the talk of personal development, and society has finally begun to normalize and promote self love as way to live a more mindful and purposeful existence.
And this, my friend, is the mistake that you might be making as a parent.
As parents, we give so much of ourselves both emotionally and physically to our children, our spouses, our work, that it is easy to find ourselves down a path where we feel depleted of all energy and life. We too need a recharge.
I believe in the deepest parts of me that it is absolutely necessary for you to take time away from the hustle of everyday life to make room for self-care. In fact, so much so that teaching your children self-care can be transformative in helping them to navigate difficult times in their life. And there really is no better way to teach children how to do things than them seeing you do it as an example, demonstrating to them what it looks like.
As a parent, do you say to yourself things like “there isn’t time”, or “I have so much to get done”, or “my kid needs this…or that”, or “there isn’t enough money”. Sound familiar?
Here’s the thing though… If you flip the narrative to “I am showing my child how to love and care for herself”, everything changes.
It becomes your responsibility as a parent to show self love and respect for their growth because self love makes you a better parent.
Did you see your parents take time for self-love? I know I didn’t. My mom still to this day doesn’t know how to practice self-love, and as a consequence, neither did any of her children. Growing up where self-love and care was a foreign concept made it so much more difficult for me to know how to navigate through difficult times and to regularly take time to practice self-care.
Statistics show that we are more likely to fall into the same patterns that were practiced in our household than we are to break away from the cycle. Therefore, if your children see you practicing self-love and navigating difficult situations maturely, when they experience difficult times, they have a healthy example of how to cope.
When you take care of yourself and make health and happiness in your life a priority, everyone around you benefits, especially your children.
You lead the way for your children to know what self love and respect looks like so that they, too, can do it.
- Meditate, your children learn the importance mindfulness.
- Move your body, your children learn the importance of exercise.
- Practice emotional wellness, your children learn what emotional health looks like.
- Apologize, your children learn how to be accountable.
- Set goals, your children know what achievement looks like.
- Create healthy boundaries, your children learn to not tolerate people who don’t respect theirs.
- Leave an unhealthy relationship, your children learn self-respect.
Words rarely need to be spoken. You simply teach through your actions. Think of it as an emotional roadmap for your children. When they face complicated or difficult situations, their subconscious mind already has a snapshot of what to do and how to handle it. No lecturing, no shaming, no yelling and no broken children.
When you parent from a place of this-is-what-YOU-need-to-do rather than leading by example, the results are often sub-par, which is why I call it a parenting mistake. It is easier to tell your children what to do than it is to live the way you want your children to live. Let me explain.
The coach on the football sidelines throws a fit and yells at the referee because he disagrees with the call that was made. This same coach gets upset at his kid for yelling and throwing a fit when something doesn’t go his way. Looking at the way he handles situations isn’t on his radar, but he is quick to notice when his child is acting out in the same way.
Rather than focusing so much of our attention on our children, we need to realize how much impact our behavior has on how our children act.
In the case of self-love, while you might not realize it now, you don’t want your children growing up not knowing how to manage difficult situations or stress productively. There is no greater disappointment as a parent than to fail at teaching them how to navigate through a world that is bound to disappoint.
Look, shitty situations happen to all of us. Nobody is immune. It is all in how we manage them. And it is your responsibility as a parent to help show your children a healthy, productive way through the shitty times. And much of this is done through their watching us practice self-love and self-respect.
If you want your children to live meaningful lives, you also need to be in the game of living a life filled with meaning and purpose.
The two things that I know for sure are:
1. You can’t have meaning and purpose without taking time to practice self-care.
2. Self love makes you a better parent.
Questions for you to ponder this week:
- Are you making space for self-care in your life?
- What does self-care look like for you?
- Are there ways that you can add a little bit of self care into your life to help improve your parenting game?