My 4-year old’s “Spidey Sense” always seems to kick when I am in the grip of stress, even when I try to hide it from him. I know he can tell if I’m frustrated, or anxious, or worried, or panicked, even if I do my best to seem cool and “together”. Sometimes he takes advantage of the moment and fuels the fire by acting out, and other times he offers an awesome leg hug. Either way, he notices.
Knowing that my kids see me not just at my best but also my worst is normal, but it can be hard. I think that for many of us, it’s an emotional battle to allow young people to see us truly struggling, whether in anger, sadness, disappointment, or stress – without feeling shame.
Have you ever read the work of Brene Brown? If you haven’t come across her yet, you are in for a bit of a life-changer.
Brene is a “researcher-storyteller” who has opened up the conversation about vulnerability, shame and human connection. Among many other things, Brene has written a beautiful Manifesto on Wholehearted Parenting that can be printed as a poster (for free!)
What I really, really love is her call to parents – and indeed to anyone who cares for young people –to model struggle and strength so that kids and youth can witness how we navigate those challenging, and sometimes ugly, emotions.
The Manifesto also talks about making a commitment to model self-compassion and embrace imperfections in front of children.
When my daughter sees me forgive myself (sometimes by me actually saying, “Darn it. I forgot to call my dentist back. That’s okay – I forgive myself!) – it registers in her mind that this is something she can try too.
As we work through giving ourselves grace to be wholehearted with our kids, I know many parents also struggle with age-appropriate language, especially when confronting more serious struggles such as depression or anxiety. I recently came across a news article that provides some advice about this and I encourage you to give it a read and let me know what you think.
I’ll leave you with the invitation to check out the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.
And, to check out more of Brene Brown’s amazing work, go here: http://brenebrown.com/
Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this topic!