“Raise the child you have got, not the one you want” is what author and parenting coach Nancy Rose advices in her book with the same name.
And, that is what this article is going to discuss, “Acceptance” – the ‘A’ in “The ABC of Parenting from the Heart”.
Accepting the child for what he or she is builds a healthy parent-child relationship that is founded on trust and wellbeing. When the child has to constantly live up to expectations that are beyond his or her ability, there is discontent and conflict.
Not only does the child become reticent and withdrawn, his or her self-esteem and confidence is crushed under the pressure of comparison and competition.
We often mix up approval and acceptance in the belief that they are both the
same. Well, they aren’t. As parents, we do not have to approve what a child does, but accepting that it has been done becomes important. We as parents may aspire and dream for our children. This is not a bad thing. However, when these take a precedence over what the child himself or herself aspire for and dream about, painful conflicts arise and destroy the fabric so carefully woven over the early years of the child.
So, how do we connect with our children when there are differences in temperament and aspirations? What questions do I need to ask myself to gauge whether I am an accepting parent? How do I avoid comparing my children when one has much higher needs than the other? What can I do to ensure that I can accept each of my children for their own personal uniqueness?
Here are some useful insights and tips:
- Strike a balance between changing your child and accepting your child
- Recognize the qualities in them that are intrinsic to them
- Ask yourself if there anything more important to you than your child’s
- Recognize the strengths and virtue in each of your children and appreciate them
- Love your children for themselves, not for the best of ourselves in them
- Let your child/children know through words and action that you are there for them, loving them and accepting them, no matter what
- Try to empathize with their differences, and to experience those differences on their terms rather than your own
- Listen with full attention and focus on what your child is saying to you
- Be an active listener
- Communicate to the child without making judgements
- Help the child become aware of the emotions he/she feels as this will enable them to make conscious choices on how to respond
- Show empathetic concern towards your child as it shows them that you really care and are trying to understand them and their feelings; it shows them that you love them despite the situation and demonstrates your acceptance despite the behaviour
One of the biggest challenges to being able to accept your child is holding onto unrealistic expectations of your child and yourself. Most parents agree that having a happy child that achieves within their capabilities, academically, socially, physically and emotionally, is their hope and dream. Just because your child is not like you doesn’t mean that they are not valuable and certainly doesn’t mean that you have failed in your role as a parent in any way.
Acceptance is fostered through understanding and knowing. Get to know what makes your child tick, what they love doing, what interests them, who they feel close to, what they want you to be doing with them, and what they want you to want for them.
Take turns in doing things together that you and your child enjoy and make time in your schedules to have fun together. Make space in your house to cater for your child, whether it be a spot for toys, music, games or books that interest him/her. To conclude, Acceptance in parenting is about being able to see and acknowledge the uniqueness in your child, without pressing for this to change.
As Andrew Solomon states, it is “finding the light in your child and seeing it there” that is important (Solomon, 2014). This, however, must not stop you from striving to shape your children’s behaviour, educational outcomes, sporting ability etc., but
rather, enable you to accept and validate with warmth their unique personality, and loving them for being them.
J HAPPY PARENTING! J
Contributed by Neethi Srikumar, AVP – Operations Shri Educare Limited
(For more tips on Positive Parenting, please write to [email protected])