I’ve been thinking about my parenting style a lot recently. I’m committed to being a good parent and this has led me to read countless articles. And to review and consider the way I parent my child. I want to hold my habits and behaviours under a microscope to ensure they are good enough. I am a firm believer that the best parenting is one that works both for parent and child. If our balance is off; neither truly wins. Thus, I’ve come to the conclusion that to parent well we must role model life’s most important messages to our children. And this includes looking after and being kind to ourselves.
For How to Teach Children about Mental Health read here.
For Quick and Easy Tips for your Pre-natal Mental Health read here.
The Pitfalls of Parenting
Perhaps the biggest parenting obstacle I come across is achieving that all important balance. Ensuring that our love for our child. And our desire for them to have the best, does not overshadow ourselves as parents. Whilst sacrificing for your child is normal and some may argue natural. We have to acknowledge the cost of caring. And what happens when their needs cause us to abandon our own.
This is something I have struggled with since having my child. It was something I knew I would struggle with before I was pregnant. And therefore I have been vigilant on this issue. I am well aware, from past experience, what happens when I care too much. When my care and love for others outweighs the care and love I have for myself. Inevitably, when I abandon my own needs, my ability to care for others begins to deteriorate too.
Whilst it is my firm belief we should all care for ourselves because we are humans deserving of as much love and affection as we show others. Many of us, won’t or don’t have the time to look after ourselves for our own sakes. It’s for these people, myself included, that I say if you won’t look after yourself for your own sake, than do so for the sake of those you love. In this instance your children.
For How I Learned to Care for My Postnatal Mental Health read here.
Role Model Parenting
So, how does this link to role model parenting? If our biggest obstacle as parents is having the time, energy, empathy and other resources to look after ourselves. Then role model parenting is parenting in a way that ensures our own mental health as a parent. If we show our children that we look after ourselves, then we bring up children who will do the same. Otherwise we risk bringing up children who become adults who don’t prioritize their own needs. And I don’t think any of us want that.
As I mentioned before, I’m aware that I can overprioritize the needs of others to my own detriment. I know I have given too much in the past and have felt the impact on my mental health. I don’t want this for my daughter. One of my fears is she will learn to give too much and risk her own wellbeing in the process. I want to show her that there can be a balance; that it isn’t all or nothing. And to do this I need to get better at looking after myself. And showing her that I do this.
As parents we don’t always practise what we preach. Again I think this is incredibly normal. But children are little detectives. If we’re not genuine they can sense it. And to quote another cliche, actions speak louder than words. It’s no good saying, do as I say, not as I do. If we want to be the best parent we can be, this means showing our children that we meet our own needs whilst meeting the needs of others.
For How to Improve the Mental Health of Children read here.
How to Role Model Parent
Hopefully the idea of role model parenting is starting to make some sense. But what does it look like in practise? We’re all different parents parenting different children. Every parent and child are their own duo with a unique relationship. So, naturally the way we communicate will be different. Likewise, looking after yourself may mean something different to you than it does to me. And how you do this and the right balance will be too. But there are some things we can do to get started. Just make them your own.
- Show your kids that you do self-care. Do it with them. Explain why you do it and what you get out of it. Whether it helps you sleep better, lifts your mood, gives you enjoyment or peace of mind.
- Take time to pause. Of course, this is a version of self-care. But often we don’t slow down or stop. Always with another responsibility weighing on our mind. Encourage your children to slow down. And explain how and why you do this. Whether it’s a reminder to walk a bit slower, pausing to enjoy a moment of warmth in the sunlight, a hot drink or a cuddle or perhaps a mindful moment.
- Feel your emotions. Talk your children through it. Share with your children how you felt during the day in an age-appropriate way. Hearing you talk with normalize a variety of emotions. It will help them develop their own language around emotions. Encourage them to talk to you about how they feel. And learn from you how to manage the emotions that cause them discomfort in a positive way.
- Practise kindness with your kids. Foster an environment where kindness is for yourself and others. Bring up your kids to know that they deserve kindness from themselves and others too.
What do you think of role model parenting? What would be your top tips on how to do it? Let us know below.