Thursday, July 17, 2014

Autism Answer: Discover Your Personal Parenting Style

There were so many things I didn't know as a young mom. 

There were struggles and hurts that I lived with, most often because I felt confused and lost while searching for the "right" way to be a mom, the way that would "look" smart and loving and strong and compassionate.  

Recently, I was asked what kind of advice I would give to a new mother. 

Well, in truth I would want to talk her ear off!!! Parenting has made me a happier person but only after learning so many important truths, and so I'd want to shove those truths down her throat with passion and well-intentioned ferocity!!

But, of course, I'd be feeding her the nutrition that was needed for me to be a comfortable happy parent. The perfect blend of ingredients in my parenting smoothie would not necessarily gift her with the happiness and parenting passions I now enjoy. 

However, they also might! Heck, it's highly likely that at least one or two of the delicious truths I found on the journey to discover my personal parenting style will taste just right for other young moms (and dads) out there. 

And so, in the interest of creating a concoction of possible nourishment for moms and dads who are lacking in the same parenting vitamins and minerals I once was, I'll offer the basket of goodies that I would give the "me" of many years ago if given the chance!

Discover your own personal parenting style.

Don't worry about how it looks to others. Don't get tangled in feelings or worries about how it looks to other moms, teachers, counselors, or baseball coaches. They will often judge you and have opinions, you're right about that, but they also don't have all of the answers. And they certainly don't have your answers! 

Having said that, please don't be afraid to listen or learn from those you trust and love. You don't have to be the one with all of the good ideas, even if you kinda feel like you do. They're your children, aren't they? Doesn't that mean that you should always know what to do and how to do it? Doesn't that mean that if someone else has a great idea about how to help your child try new foods or practice language or wear clothes, that you are not a good mom? NOPE! A good parent stays true to her beliefs and style, while learning from the millions of others who also have beliefs and style. Show your children that it's beautiful to allow others to pitch in! Show them the art of learning from each other!!

Personal Example: Don't be surprised when your four year old begins to use language--to speak!-- because you accepted an idea that came not from you, but from your mom. While your son is talking, you won't care whose idea it was! (Of course, now he's sixteen and won't stop talking.... tee hee!)

Find the mom you love being, and don't resist the truth that she'll change over time. Embrace your own style, and adore the way your children will encourage you to change it. Parenting is a life long ever evolving journey, and you'll do your best work if you choose to love it and discover the treasure of you along the way!

Bonus Tip: It's not a good idea to view our parenting successes (or failures) through the successes (or failures) of our children. Their successes (and failures) are their own.

Our success is born out of a willingness to make the work fun while never (okay, rarely!) backing down from the challenging choices that must be made. When we choose to back down and justify, that is our failure. So choose to do the work, while offering gratitude freely along the way! (The "me" of years ago had a hard time with this one, wanting to justify and give up when challenging choices had to be made)

Once I learned these things, and chose to consistently live them, I became a happier person. 

Parenting has made me a happier person, and in truth it boils down to one simple reason. 

Parenting gave me the strength to learn exactly who I am, what I believe, and to live my life with kind confidence because that's what I ask of my children. 

As they've grown, so have I. While playing with them and chatting with them I've blossomed and have encouraged them to do the same. 

And because all four of my sons are different people, I've learned to love and appreciate the value of differing--even sometimes clashing!--ideas and beliefs. 

In this way I've become a curious and interested friend, wife, and sibling with a willingness to seek different perspectives without the need to change them. And because I see the world with eyes that value difference, I see beauty. There is no question that being a mom has made me happier, because I want my boys to seek and see happiness. 

It didn't happen in one year, or even two, but eventually I found my personal parenting style

And when I found that, I found my personal style

I found me!

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!