Parenting is a very individual experience and one that many can struggle with as there are just so many ideals and beliefs on what a parent should look like and behave like.
There are also many parents who may make it look like everything is ‘all good’ on the outside but really you can feel that this may not always be the truth. Even writing on the subject of parenting felt like a topic that only certain people could possibly write about.
I have often thought that I was not a very good parent, but can today question this: by whose standards am I not enough? I can now clearly see how much I have compared myself to others, rather than really appreciating myself and my own experience of parenting.
I now know that I am a great parent and the evidence is in my child, but I’ve realised that I don’t need any set result to be a parent, I just need to be my true self.
Parenting is a very individual experience and one that many can struggle with, particularly if we let ourselves be run by the many ideals and beliefs on how the perfect parent should be. I know that I have had many pictures in my head about what the perfect parent should look like.
One thing is for sure, I am not perfect and parenting really has taught me so much and continues to do so every day, in so many ways. It has not been easy and there have been many times that I have wanted to give up and run away, but I am still here 12 years later and I can look back on those years and really appreciate how far I have come and all that I have to offer as a parent, not just to my child but to all children in my life.
I have learnt from my mistakes and have come to appreciate that as well as all the awesome choices I have made, and that is all that matters. We make mistakes, so what? What matters is how we deal with them and what we do next.
I am a single parent and have always used this fact to confirm to myself that I was somehow a victim, and that being a parent is so much harder for me, but the truth is, it really doesn’t matter whether you are single or not, it is how you choose to parent that matters most and that of course will depend on the individual child, as no two children are the same or need the same life teachings.
I used to think that it was hard as I was alone in this role of raising a child and everything depended on me, and if anything went wrong, or if my child made the wrong choices, it would be all my fault. How wrong was I!
First of all, to even think that I am the only person in my child’s life and her only influence is just crazy. I used to keep us separate from others without realising, and these days I have turned that around.
I now choose to let us be part of other people’s lives and ask for support when I need it. I used to think that asking for support meant that I was a failure, but realised that was just a belief I wasn’t aware of.
What this has allowed me to see is that we are never alone and that we are part of a much bigger family, and that there is so much support there for us. It is amazing to recognise the impact this has on our lives.
Recently we celebrated my daughter’s 12th birthday and I decided to have a family dinner, as she didn’t want a party. It was very special as when thinking of who her family was, I had to invite quite a lot of people.
The concept of family just being blood related is so restrictive and we all miss out with that kind of thinking. We used to think our family was just my daughter, myself and my dad, but this family gathering had 4 mothers, 2 fathers, 3 grand parents, an uncle and aunt and 6 siblings.
How much we share and let others support us really is up to us. I no longer choose to be a single parent and go it alone.
I have also seen my responsibility as a parent does not only include my own child, but all children in my life equally, as they are all equally important. This does not mean I have to control other children but, rather than leave things to their mum or dad to sort out, I can talk to anyone’s children and bring their awareness to what’s going on. I can also encourage them and confirm them in ways that perhaps another cannot. If we all express our special qualities and what comes naturally to us and share this with others, we all benefit.
Another big belief that I have had is that everything that my child chooses is my fault. I have come to realise and accept that I am here as a role model and as a reflection, but it is up to my child and other children in my life to make their own choices.
It is not my right to try to control or need things to be a certain way. I’ve realised that I have no right to try to coerce my child to excel in a certain area of school because I might need that for my own recognition. It is also not my place to get in the way of her life and to fix things for her, otherwise she will not learn from her own choices and consequences. This has been a big lesson for me to learn and to surrender to – and one that I am still working on as I become more and more aware of my tendency to want things to be a certain way.
One thing that I am really learning about these days is my responsibility as a parent. I can honestly say that I have been through and trialled a few different parenting approaches and one that didn’t work at all was the ‘laissez-fair’ approach, which translates into just letting children do their own thing. I also tried the ‘no boundaries’ approach and let my daughter be a ‘free spirit’, but I am still dealing with the consequences of that today.
I’ve learnt that what does work for me is consistency, and boundaries are a loving thing to have in place as children then have a solid concept of what is okay and what is not.
I used to need my child to like me and to be my friend, but because of this I was so easily manipulated into doing things that I didn’t want to do, or I allowed myself to be walked over. Through realising how damaging that was I have now stopped imposing myself on my child. She is not here to make me feel enough, or so I can be identified by her.
We are both here together to learn from each other, and we are equal, but as her parent I am here to show her by example rather than say one thing and live another. I am here to support and guide her but not control her. I am here to be me so that she can see that just being herself is enough and that she doesn’t have to do anything to be someone, as she is already amazing as she is.
By Rosie Bason