Monday, April 18, 2011

Stay Home, Stay Happy - Chapter 6: Don't Go It Alone!

This chapter talks about getting help from people that surround us, who in turn are willing to lend a hand. Let's get to know these resources, tap them, learn from them, and share our experiences with them.

Taking girlfriends, grandparents, and mentors along for a ride

"I've come to believe that there are only two things you need in any new teaching situation to succeed - humility and inquiry." - Lisa Delpit

Humility is one of the most important prerequisite for motherhood. Love is our motivation, but humility allows for introspection, and that's what you need in order to parent consciously. 

No parent is perfect. We all have room for improvement. After all, children don't come with a handbook. And if I may add to that, having more than one child doesn't make one an expert because no two kids are alike!

When we admit our shortcomings (to ourselves and our children) and recognize our need to learn from others, we are better parents. Although trusting our gut is important, it is just as important to accept that we don't and won't have all the answers and to draw on the wisdom of others.

Girlfriends: Fill your bucket!

We all need friends. We look out for one another, and somehow knowing we are all in it together makes everything a little easier.

When kids are busy playing together, moms can count on time to talk, bond and connect. An additional benefit is that getting together with the kids in tow provides us a benchmark of sorts to gauge our own parenting and child's progress.

Surround yourself with friends who accept you for who you are and can help you laugh at your foibles instead of wallowing in them. And I sure am glad I have those kinds of friends, near and far.

Choose your girlfriends wisely and ask yourself if this is a relationship that is supportive, honest and authentic. You deserve and need to have friendships that are liberating and rejuvenating.

Make it a point to surround yourself with people who lift your spirits and with whom you genuinely want to spend time. You don't need any more stress in your life! I hope I am not causing stress on my friends' lives, having a lot of down times myself.

Nurture the grandparent relationship

Grandparents can also be a great help to Mom (and Dad!). But their help extends far beyond babysitting.

Watching grandparents interact with their grandkids, we begin to see why the love between our children and our parents is different from our parental love and why it is something even the best parents cannot replicate.

Unlike parental love, grandparent's love for our children is not saddled with the ultimate responsibility.

Children who enjoy healthy and strong relationships with their grandparents have the security of knowing that someone else in the world loves them as unconditionally and completely as their parents.

When kids go to their grandparents' houses they are made to feel like nothing in the world is more important than their visit that day. My brother and I felt this way when we were visiting my grandparents' house when we were kids, and I'm sure my kids feel the same way whenever we go on holiday to visit my parents.

Nurture the grandparent relationship - everyone will benefit. It is your job to foster this relationship. I hope I am doing the right measures given the situation (grandparents live in another country).

Nurturing the relationship means understanding that indulging grandkids and  breaking their parents' rules is one of the greatest pleasures of being a grandparent. As long as you trust your parents and believe they have good intentions, let them build a relationship with your kids independent of you and your spouse. I guess just don't go overboard. Meaning the kids should know that grandparents are there to love them and give them a little bit of "freedom" from parents' rules, but parents' rules are there to stay :)

Grandparents provide a window into the history and traditions of a family.

Being around elderly parents who are frail or sick can teach children difficult yet important lessons about compassion and the value of human being regardless of infirmities or disabilities - a lesson that is sadly being lost in the culture at large.

One of the most amazing gifts that comes with the birth of the child is the opportunity for families to heal and move past old resentments or issues because the love they share for this child is greater.

Fun ways to Nurture the Grandparents Relationship

  • Recognize that it's your responsibility to foster the relationship between your kids and their grandparents.
  • Make grandparents feel welcome and special in your home.
  • Be willing to take kids to their grandparents.
  • Give grandparents and grandkids alone time to build their own relationships.
  • Accept that grandparents will indulge your kids and break some of your rules.

Why we need mentors

There is nothing more humbling that having kids around. Their innocence, reflected in their unfiltered thoughts and questions, is the most refreshing and wonderful part about being a parent.

Knowing that the person I am seeking advice from truly respects my work as a mom deeply affects my ability to hear and absorb their wisdom.

Choosing your mommy mentor

A mommy mentor is a mom, usually older than you, whom you turn to for wisdom and insight. She's an experienced mom who's been there and can offer perspective.

She's a cheerleader who takes pride in your successes and finds it personally rewarding to support you and help you avoid some of the pitfalls she encountered.

Women who have raised strong families who share deep bonds. They have healthy and easy relationships with their grown children, and they truly enjoy being together as a family.

Don't underestimate your kids. Often, in the face of peer and cultural pressure, our kids are wiser and bolder than we give them credit for.

You need more than one

You should surround yourselves with as many different types of mommy mentors as possible. Life hands us a variety of situations to deal with, so you need a variety of resources to draw upon.

Even if your mom is the best possible role model, chances are that you can point to at least one thing you'd like to do differently from your parents. So find a mommy mentor who can help you. Otherwise, it is easy to fall back into old familiar family patterns you were hoping to avoid.

It's always best to really get to know your "mentor" first and to get advice from more than one person you trust!

Pay it forward

Sometimes our reactions are more about how we think something reflects on us, rather than the actual behavior of the child.

The wisdom of letting go and accepting and loving our children for who they are at this very moment, even if it's not exactly what we would want them to do or say.

Do not overreact or over analyze our kids. They should have the freedom to be who they are, confident that their parents love them unconditionally.

Pay it forward - set out to make the life of another busy at-home mom just a little easier.

Pearls of Wisdom: My Favorite Advice from Other Moms

  • Your relationship with your child is like a bank account. Love and bonding moments are "deposits"; restrictions and reprimands are "withdrawals". You cannot withdraw funds you do not have. -- Marisol (mother of two)
  • Women have more strength than they realize. When the going gets tough, just keep going. -- Carol (mother of eleven, grandmother of 30)
  • You can't have quality parenting without quantity parenting. -- Jane (mother of 4)
  • It's important to figure out your own life before involving someone else. If you don't know yourself, you will be constantly searching, and it will be harder to be the selfless person you need to be as a parent. -- Sharon (mother of 3, grandmother of 2)
  • Your child develops into his own independent person, different from you. He is not always going to do what you want or expect. If you accept that, parenting your child will be a success. -- Ruth (mother of 1, grandmother of 2)
  • Don't personalize it when they pull away. That's what they are supposed to do. And remember that respect is a two-way street in the parent-child relationship. -- Peggy (mother of 2)

Another chapter's been revealed. I'm sure we are all getting closer (if we are not already there) to appreciating our life as at-home parents, and to becoming really happy. 

I'm sure glad to have a handful of moms around me who I can refer to when I'm in need. Some of them are older than me, same age as me or even younger than me. I take whatever it is that helps in my parenting. And more often than not, these circle of friends / female family members give sound advice. So go out there, look for your mommy mentors (if you don't have them yet). Share experiences with them, ask for advice from there. And don't forget to pay it forward.

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