#12 My Children aren’t my reason for living ♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you,  I invite you to read on…

not-my-reason

 

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

 

At first glance this statement might have shocked you…
You might be wondering ‘What sort of parent would say their children aren’t their reason for living?’

I’m that sort of parent, and here’s why…
When we consider our children to be the very reason we exist, we unwittingly put a very heavy load onto them. We take the focus off of who we are and make us about them. That’s a lot of responsibility to put on little shoulders. Instead, I choose to live well because of them. I want to take care of my health and well being because I want to be around for them, with them, for a very long time. It’s up to me to take care of me, so that I can take care of them.


I might not have paid as much attention to my health and well-being before they were here, but now that they are, I’ve found two reasons to get my act together and live well with them.


How I live will have an enormous impact on who they become and how they live. They look to me for guidance and direction and it’s up to me to give them the best version of me that I can muster. I might not have done if for me, but I’ll do it for them.

Think about it…You might be this sort of parent too!

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will be more conscious of the choices I make regarding the way I live. I will consider my lifestyle from the perspective of not only what I want for my future but what I want for my children’s future too. How I live today will have a far reaching impact not only on me, but also on who they grow up to become and how they will live their lives someday. Today I choose to make better choices for myself because of the deep love I have for them. They are not my reason for living, they are my reason for wanting to live well. 

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#11 We know more than we think ♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you,  I invite you to read on…

guiding-lights

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

If you’re one of those ‘I’m not always too sure about this parenting thing’ sort of parents, you’re in good company. There are very few parents who feel fully competent all of the time when it comes to raising their children. (The chances are, if you have met one of these rare parents who claim to have it all going on, they make your hackles rise and you try to avoid them!) Truth be told, many of us are figuring it out as we go.

Over the years I have had the good fortune of meeting many brilliant and wonderful people who are considered to be leading experts in the field of parenting and child development… but I’m yet to meet one who thinks they have all the answers. In fact, I’d be very wary if they did!

To the best of my knowledge, every parent on the planet has moments (or days or weeks or sometimes longer) when we doubt ourselves. I think that because we’re such caring and invested parents many of us are being too hard on ourselves. We need to know that we’re not alone when we’re feeling that we’re not measuring up. Those like us with soft hearts likely feel a similar way…but we can’t afford to get stuck in it.

Wanting to be the very best people for our children comes from a place of good intention, and it’s essential that we yearn to be better, but when we become consumed by it we begin to live in a constant state of fear and insecurity thinking that we’re not measuring up. Over time this erodes our self confidence and our belief that we are indeed our children’s best bet. That’s never a good thing.

Have you ever considered that maybe we’re comparing ourselves to a parenting gold standard that exists only in our imagination?

While the self imposed misguided notion that we’re not measuring up may well motivate us to try even harder, it also takes us outside of ourselves and often leads us astray. We find ourselves lost and disoriented in a maze filled with comparisons of self to others, conflicting sources of information that we can’t sift through fast enough, complicated strategies that we don’t find to be intuitive and lofty self expectations that we can’t seem to live up to. It’s no wonder that so many parents today are in a state of overwhelm!

I’d like to suggest that we make a conscious effort to step away from the noise in our own heads and that which surrounds us. Instead, let’s give our attention to the little glimmers of inner knowing that are sparked when we hear or read words that do feel right and ring true to us. These are the glints amongst the distraction that will join together to become strings of guiding lights that will lead us back to what we have always known but may have forgotten. We know more than we think.

Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will step back from trying to do this ‘parenting thing’ perfectly and will instead pay attention to what resonates with me throughout my day. Rather then desperately seeking information with which to fill my head, I will allow myself to be more aware of what speaks to my heart. I know more than I allow myself to believe and starting today,  I will be more open to considering that this is indeed true.

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

# 10 Feelings before Behaviour? Really? ♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you,  I invite you to read on…

feelings

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

Behaviour grabs our attention because it’s supposed to. All behaviour (the pleasant and the not so pleasant) tells us something about what’s happening emotionally for our child. We have to get better at reading it rather than being distracted by it.

When we react to behaviour by attempting to stamp it out we often miss valuable clues telling us what our child really needs from us. Each interaction we have presents us with an opportunity to either deepen or erode the long term relationship that we are wanting to have with our child. 

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about letting children run amok because that’s what they feel like doing. This is about us taking responsibility for figuring out what is moving them to act out in the ways they do… and then responding in a way that addresses their underlying need whilst also passing on our values and expectations without damaging our relationship.

We’re meant to love, guide and teach them and if we’re invested in doing just that then it’s up to us to seek resources that resonate with us and support us on our parenting journey. They’re all around us, we just have to be willing and open. Are you ready?

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will focus my energy on looking beneath my children’s distracting behaviour so that I am better able to address the need that is driving them to act out in the ways they do. I’ll remind myself that all behaviour is an opportunity for me to get to know my child at a deeper level and in so doing , I will be empowered to guide and support them to be who they are capable of being.

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#9 Parents:Behaving better than we feel.

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you,  I invite you to read on…

be-the-best-you-can-be

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

It’s not always easy being a parent, least of all when we’re feeing tired, hungry, stressed or unwell ourselves. It’s in these moments that we’re most likely to have one of our ‘not so shiny’ parenting moments. You know what I’m talking about… the kind of outburst that we regret just moments after it occurs. This happens to us all of us sometimes… doesn’t it??  (I sure hope it’s not just me!).

So, what can we do about it?

Well, we can’t deny how we feel, nor should we BUT we also can’t unleash our big feelings on those around us, least of all on our children. What we can do is put our focus on mustering up our ‘on the other hand’ thoughts and feelings.  Your self talk might sound something like this inside your head… ‘Yes I’m frustrated, yes I’m feeling stirred up by my child right now but on the other hand I don’t want to hurt them with my words or actions because I love them so very much’.

Sounds simple right? It really does, but simple doesn’t always mean easy. It takes practice.

Each time we remind ourselves in the very moment that we feel ourselves starting to ‘lose our grip’ that we have children who are taking their cues from us, who love us and who we want the very best for, we are more likely to snap ourselves back into more controlled and tempered behaviour.

It won’t work like magic every time, but the more conscious we become about what’s going on for us emotionally in the moment, the better we will get at managing ourselves and our reactions. The deep love we have for our children might just be the inspiration we need to become the sort of people we’re yearning to be.

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will pay closer attention to how I am feeling when interacting with others, particularly  with my children. When I feel my frustration rising I will try and temper my reaction with ‘on the other hand’ thoughts and remind myself that I want to be the best version of myself for my children.  (And when I don’t manage to do this, I will give myself a little grace and try again when the next opportunity presents itself…because it will.) 

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#8 Training vs Guiding our Children♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you,  I invite you to read on…

Loving Guidance.jpg

 

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

I must admit, I have a tremendous aversion to the word ‘training’. I think it’s because for me, it loses its context when referring to children. Training makes parenting sound like a method to apply to our children rather than a way of being with our children. It doesn’t sit well with me that we would want to train our children when we could instead rely on what we naturally have with them, a growing relationship which empowers us to guide and teach them.

With so many step by step training techniques out there, we’ve been led to believe that it’s just a matter of time and perseverance before we find the perfect solution for a ‘problem’ we’re trying to solve. We become fixated on applying the method-of-the-week rather than focussing on who it is being applied to and what they really need from us. When what we try doesn’t work or runs out of effectiveness, we move on in search of a new technique. We get blinded by our well-meaning quest and stop seeing what is really needed by our children. They need a deep connection with us! 

What many of us really need is a reminder that we are our children’s best bet. We don’t always feel this way, least of all when we believe that we are floundering and that nothing we do seems to work on our child. We need to know that it is not through a lack of trying or lack of love that we get to this place, it is self doubt and numerous failed attempts at training our children that have led us here.

Let’s remember, or if that’s too much of a stretch, let’s at least consider this…

We have what we need to guide and teach our children, we have a relationship with them and we are the ones who love them most of all. It’s up to us put our trust in that and find resources that support us to grow our relationship with them rather than work against it. Techniques have a limited  lifespan,  a deep relationship lasts a life time.

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will be more mindful of the practices I use when I’m wanting to teach my children new things or refine their behaviour. I will keep my focus on guiding rather than training as they are more open to learning from me (and absorbing my values and expectations) when I connect with them before instructing them. 

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#7 Do all tears deserve comfort? ♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you,  I invite you to read on…

deserves-comfort

 

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

Children cry, they just do. How we respond to their tears tends to be influenced by how we are feeling in that very moment and what we perceive their tears to be about. We’re inclined to move swiftly to soothe the child who has hurt themselves physically, to assist the child who has had their feelings bruised by another or to calm a child who appears to be anxious or distressed.

Our willingness to console a child ‘who has gotten what they deserved’ is a little less forthcoming as it is often our mistaken belief that a child who is left to suffer the consequences of their actions will learn their lesson more quickly than a child who is ‘coddled’. I’d like to counter that misguided notion by sharing this:

When we comfort a child in their sadness, regardless of whether we deem their upset to be ‘deserved’ or not, we are meeting their need for emotional closeness at the time they need it most. Children who are met in their sadness with words and actions that convey our concern for their well-being are able to explore the depth of their sadness or disappointment whilst feeling safe. It’s the sinking in of their uncomfortable feelings, whilst being comforted by us, that allows the lessons we hope they’ll to learn to sink in.

When we pull back, shame or give a blast of words or energy that conveys ‘Well maybe you won’t make that stupid mistake again next time’ we risk shutting down their ability to feel the sadness around the error of their ways. Nobody feels good in the very moment they make a mistake, and everybody feels worse when they are shamed because of it, unless of course one learns over time to block out the vulnerable feelings in order to avoid feeling the sensation of emotional discomfort, and that leads to all sorts of other problems in the long term.

Coming to the aid of a crying child regardless of what led to their tears is how we can most effectively nurture our children’s emotional and psychological well-being one upset at a time. Without question, it takes a whole lot of patience and tolerance on our end, I’m not wanting to minimize that, but what I am hoping to convey is this:
When we respond to our crying children in the way that we’d most appreciate being responded to in our moments of upset, we’re not reinforcing their crying behaviour we’re meeting the need behind it. It’s in our ability to be there for them now that will help prepare them emotionally to get through the tough or upsetting times when they are all grow up and we’re no longer around. This is something we can start doing today today and it will serve them well for their lifetime.

 

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today if  (when!) my child cries, I will respond to their need to be comforted regardless of what preempted their tears. I will try and remind myself in that moment that all tears are a cry to be seen and we all deserve that, especially by our parents.  What my child needs from me is my comfort and not my admonition for expressing how they are truly feeling. By meeting my child’s need to be comforted in their moment of upset I am not reinforcing their unwanted behaviour, I am expressing my unwavering love for them regardless of the mistakes they have made. 

 

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#6 The gift of saying NO ♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you,  I invite you to read on…

just-say-no

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

Very few of us like being the ‘Bad Guy’. It’s not that we really are the ‘Bad Guy’ as much as it is that we are perceived by our children as being just that…or we allow ourselves to feel like we are. Children don’t like being told NO by us just as much as we don’t like being told NO by them. Quite simply, nobody likes having a limit or restriction imposed on them, nor do they enjoy having their wants or wishes thwarted by another. The overwhelming sensation of frustration that it creates can feel unbearable. Our human instinct is to pushback against that which we do not want and it takes a great deal of maturity not to react overtly when this happens. 

Being a parent requires us to say NO a few times a day and some days more than others. It’s easier to follow through when we can remind ourselves in the moment that the discomfort we may be feeling is secondary to what is needed from us by our child. When we wimp out of saying no for the sake of peace, to avoid a tantrum or to circumvent our own feelings of discomfort we’re doing a disservice to our child. We all do it sometimes (Of course we do!) but knowing that doing so far too often is jeopardizing our children’s journey to maturation is what can jolt us into taking responsible action when needed.

Growing up to become a resilient adult requires us to have ample opportunity as a child to practice the feelings of upset and disappointment that come with not always having things our own way. When we deprive our children of this experience we are indeed spoiling them in the sense that we are limiting their opportunities for emotional and psychological growth.

Let me be quite clear about this: Just saying NO isn’t going to get the job done. What is required is a NO expressed in a calm and grounded manner, followed by the realistic expectation that resistance will likely come in its wake. When it happens we can’t lose our minds and morph into an enforcer who ups the ante by raising our voice and waving our hands while repeating “I said NO!’

Instead we have to keep ourselves in check and hold the NO in place despite the upset and the discomfort we’re feeling and our child is displaying. Each time we do so in a soft hearted way we provide our children with a safe experience to build another layer of resilience. That’s the true purpose of saying NO and we can be the ones to gift it to our children.

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will try and keep my focus on what is needed by my child rather than what is wanted by my child. I will keep in mind that although saying NO may make me feel uncomfortable, I am acting in what I believe to be in the best interests of my child. While they might not respond well to my holding a boundary in place, knowing that I am serving them well in the long term will make it possible for me to do so. I will rise above my own discomfort and do what is needed rather than what is wanted.

 

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#5 Getting through a tantrum ♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you, I invite you to read on…

intolerable-tantrums

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

It’s not unusual when being confronted by yet another tantrum that many of us unwittingly turn the interaction into somewhat of a  ‘How-do-you-think-you’re-making-me-feel?’ fest. The trouble with this is that no one having a tantrum, regardless of their age, has the ability to consider the feelings of another in that very moment. Least of all our children.

When we attempt to turn the experience into a life lesson on the impact their ‘over the top behaviour’ is having on us, we have failed before we’ve even started. We need to know that. There is very little we can do in the midst of a tantrum that will result in any learning sinking in for a child. They are in a state of emotional turmoil and any attempt on our part to pull them out of it by getting them to see the impact of their behaviour will suck us into their vortex of upset as our own frustration escalates.

Let’s face it, it’s not easy to be an exhausted parent who is hanging on by the fingernails trying to do our very best. It’s extremely challenging in these moments to muster up the antidote to our racing ‘poor me’ thoughts. It’s also quite a stretch to consider the feelings of our tantruming child when we are completely flooded by our own big feelings; BUT that’s a major requirement of parenting. We don’t have to like it, or even agree with it, but we have to get our heads around it or we will spend the coming days resenting our children for their immature behaviour.

When my child launches into a full scale tantrum the quickest and easiest way for me to pull myself out of my ‘But-what-about-me’ whirlpool is this…

I look. That’s all I do, I really look. It takes just a few seconds for my eyes and ears to take in the sight and sounds of my child’s tantrum before my heart begins to feel the distress and discomfort that is unfolding before me. When I see and feel it for what it truly is, a desperate plea for my help, I begin to regain perspective and what I need to do becomes clear. I need to put my focus on supporting her through this moment of emotional overwhelm because that’s what is most needed. This is much worse on her than it is on me. She needs me to comfort and guide her and to do this I have to rise above my own neediness. Once I do, there is no reason for a struggle, no push and pull. I validate her upset and in my new found steady presence I convey that we will get through this. And we do. Every time.

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today, if  (when) I find myself being pulled into the orbit of my child’s tantrum, I will steady myself before responding.  I will try not to say or to do anything. For just a few seconds, I will look. I will pay attention to what is going on for my child and imagine myself being in their body. I will not allow my head to spiral out to how this affects me, I will allow my heart to feel their upset and turmoil. I will remind myself that this very moment is not about me, it has to be all about them. My precious child is relying on me to guide them through their emotional discomfort, not join in or add more to it. Today I will look at my child’s tantrums with love.

 

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#4 The importance of experiencing raw emotion. ♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you, read on…

Raw Emotion

 

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

We all want well-mannered, well-behaved children especially when we are in public or the in-laws are over for tea. Children need to be taught how to behave if they are to behave appropriately. There is no argument with that…however…being aware of how important it is that they also be allowed to feel their emotions will help us to do both when we need to respond to their less than desirable behaviour.

In order for children to take up a relationship with themselves they have to experience who they really are by how they are truly feeling. They need to practice not only the pleasant feelings but the big, loud, mad, sad and raging feelings too. All feelings are equally important and valid. Taking up a relationship with their full spectrum of emotion is what makes them feel whole.

When well-intentioned parents hurriedly jump on ‘inappropriate’ behaviour with the sole purpose of getting their child to replace the ‘unacceptable’ with ‘the desirable’ we circumvent the child’s opportunity to feel the raw emotion coursing through their bodies.

Not being given the invitation or time to feel their emotions, not being helped to name the feelings and not being lovingly supported as they move through their feelings is what robs the child of the opportunity to come to know what is going on for them from the inside out. This doesn’t bode well for them in the future given that society expects children to grow into adults who will be able to process their emotions rather than acting out on them. (Sadly, we all know adults who have missed the boat in that area).

Appropriate behaviour and impressive manners are a result of the ability to process emotion, the gift of gentle guidance and a big dollop of maturity. None of these can be hurried and they all need the loving support and understanding of a caring parent if they are to occur. Once we understand and value the importance of emotion we are well on our way to planting the seeds of ‘socially appropriate’ behaviour in our children and it’s our deep love for them that keeps us invested in their long term growth and development.

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will try and keep my focus on how my child is feeling rather than fixating on hurrying them through their emotions. I will remind myself that no matter how big or messy their expression,  by allowing them the space to experience their feelings I’m supporting their long term growth and development.  I will do my best to make room for their emotions and will attempt to gently guide them through their feelings. 

 

© http://www.look-with-love.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

#3 Behaving better than we feel.♥

♥ Inspiration: Read this meme and if it resonates with you, read on…

Behave Better

 

♥ Insight: Something for you to ponder…

For many of us, once we become parents our days are abundantly full of opportunities to ‘stretch’ ourselves  beyond that which we ever imagined possible or even necessary. Being taken to the edge of who we think we are by those we love more than anyone else in the world is indeed a ‘growing edge’ and for some…a daunting ledge.

Our children have the capacity to bring out our very best (or our absolute worst) and they do so without an iota of premeditation or malicious intention. They simply go about their day and we find ourselves getting pulled along with them. Every interaction (or altercation) that we have with them provides us with an opportunity to muster up the best version of ourselves possible, even when we don’t necessarily feel like being it.

It’s usually in these trying moments that we get a glimpse of our capacity to ‘suck it up’ when faced with frustration, upset and disappointment. We don’t readily do it for ourselves but we’ll do it for them because we love them so deeply and we innately know that it’s what they need from us.

Once we begin to look at our everyday parent-child interactions (Yes, even the trying ones) as opportunities for mutual growth and development, we’ll be more likely to rise up and become the people we’re capable of being.

It’s a gift our children bring to us and we get to decide whether we accept it or not.

♥ Intention: If you feel moved to set an intention for today, this could be it…

Today I will pay closer attention to how I am feeling when I’m interacting with my child. When I find myself beginning to feel triggered, I will remind myself that my child takes their cues from me and that I want to behave like a caring adult in this parent-child relationship. There is no place for my immaturity in our relationship because my child needs me to be the one they can look to for guidance, support and love.

 

© http://www.look-with-love.com,2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bridgett Miller with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.