Recently I was asked to sit on a panel of mom’s with adult kids, to share our pearls with younger moms. As I looked around the room I noticed the variety of women in all sizes, shapes, backgrounds, temperaments, experiences and abilities. It was there that the falsehood of one-size-fits-all parenting, or life-ing seemed more magnified than usual.
What I heard were not techniques on mama-ing, but more ways of being and seeing. I’ve heard it said about parenting that things are caught more than taught. That’s why it does little good to parrot one thing, while doing something else. Like it or not, what our kids have caught is actually what we’ve done. This means they’ve not only caught our incongruences, but have caught wonderful unique gifts that we don’t even recognize we’re gifting to them.
In my book, Untamed Heart, Releasing Your Creative Genius, I wrote:
“When my son Joshua was in elementary school, he was asked to make a list of words that began with the letter “b”. Proudly, he topped the list off with the word basghetti-not spaghetti, but basghetti. I have never forgotten his teacher’s animated retelling of this creative story! I have followed Joshua’s example by realizing that there are times when we need to reshape the languages of our lives! If we are responsive to the movement in our lives, breathing and illuminating the unique languages we’ve been given to communicate to the world, we will become fluent spokesmen and women.
When teaching children to speak for the first time, they need to be exposed to the sounds, the feel and the expression of a given language. Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller to recognize the word water as she felt it trickle through her fingers. For Helen Keller, the connection to language ushered volumes of light into her dark world. As with any child, words instantly became a passageway to communicate vital information.
When I go for long periods of time without expressing my heart’s language, I find the world around me dulled and darkened; yet when I freely release and express my voice, my words become a flaming torch that illuminates and guides others toward their own hearts and voices. Our languages show others a slice of life. As our voices articulate our languages, others find freedom to do the same.”
A good parent, not perfect parent (I don’t believe there are perfect parents in the same way there aren’t perfect kids, just the exact parents our children need) is the one to help them recognize and speak their own language.
When I was a young mom struggling with white girl guilt over my imperfect parenting, I remember hearing Dr. Dabson (old school) say that young children have no comparison for the ideal mom. They are not thinking, “Wow, I wish I had a different mom.” Their only context for a mom is the mom they have.
My parents weren’t perfect, but they were the vehicles that shaped me and in such created a beautiful mix of things I’ve had to overcome and things that were easy-peasy gifts I received like Christmas morning. Both, although one is sometimes disguised as weaknesses, were actually gifts that have shaped and defined my life.
I believe the best thing a mama can do for her children is to develop her own life and navigate through her own mix of gifts. Remember things are caught? Yes, in the midst of caring for her precious little ones, a wise mama will also care for herself. Imagine how our kids will need this invaluable permission and skill set.
The one thing I want to be most for my kids is the voice that calls forth the gold in them rather than the voice that condemns (the world offers plenty of that.) I want them to know how amazing they are even when they’ve failed. I want to be one who encourages them to think for themselves, because they have what it takes to navigate through life. I want to be there to talk things out, because I know how hard the journey can be especially when you try to do it alone.
No, I’m far from the perfect mom, but I want my kids to know that their life doesn’t have to be perfect, or look like a prescribed formula that others have outlined. They don’t have to parrot for me or anyone else. They are much too creative for that. They carry wisdom and were created with their own unique language and I want to be someone who honors it in them and helps them to discover it.
For support with more life issues, look for my upcoming online classes here on my site, or get a free month membership to my classes and hundreds of other great creative or inner work classes at: Brave Girls University by using this code: kimberbritner here!