What do we need to do for our kids… so they’ll do it for themselves later?

As parents we want to do a good job, of course we do.  But what does that even mean?  Every parenting book and parenting expert has different ideas about what a ‘good parent’ must do.  And there’s Winnicott reassuring us that all we need to be is a ‘good enough parent’.  How do we even do that?

So, I got to thinking about where I unconsciously learned most of my parenting – and it was from my parents.  They did a load of good stuff which I wanted to copy, and also a heap of things I definitely was not going to do with our kids.  But their influence is more far reaching than that – I learned how to be an adult from them too.  Again, mostly unconsciously. 

So, this is my superpower as a parent.  How I treat myself, and how I treat my children, is going to set the blueprint for how they’ll treat themselves.

As our children’s most impactful role models, we’ve got a lot of influence… and responsibility.  No pressure then!  And children learn by copying, we see it when they’re little; but it’s true even as they get bigger, they still take on our family ways and values.  So how about I figure out how to live a good life, then perhaps they’ll follow?  And I’ll do for them too at first, all the things that I want them to learn to do for themselves in time.  By doing those things that take care of their wellbeing now, hopefully they’ll discover these are the same important things to take care of for themselves, as they grow older and increasingly take more responsibility for their own life.

And as they get bigger, and I have less sway over how they live their lives, well, then I’ll make doubly sure that I’m doing my best at the list below, knowing that if I’m doing it, they’ll still be influenced by that.

So here are some of the things that I believe lead to a sense of wellness.  They are universal human needs for well-being, whoever you are, wherever you are.  It’s not that we achieve them all the time; but if ever we are struggling, turning our attention to improving any of these is likely to make us feel better.  And doing the opposite to any of these, is likely to make us feel worse.

I wonder which you feel you want more of… and what you could do to achieve that?

  • Connection – family, love, friendship
  • Play – fun activities that lift your spirit
  • Deep sleep – enough of it, in the night-time; poor sleep flattens your mood
  • Cold water – plenty of clean water
  • Warm water – invigorating shower, soaking in a bath, to emerge fresh and clean
  • Variety of healthy food – a balanced diet
  • Exercise – moving the body, raising the heart rate
  • Touch – being held, hugged, connecting when you want it
  • Sunlight and fresh air – time in nature
  • Stillness – just being in this moment, right now
  • Learning – anything interesting and new
  • Creative expression – you doing you, being you, creating, expressing yourself
  • Giving – thinking and caring for other people
  • Someone trustworthy to talk to about things that are troubling
  • Routines and rhythm – giving structure, and anchoring you in life
  • Self-care – what you put into body, do to yourself, how you spend time, and think of yourself

What have I missed?  Let me know in comments below…

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