Parenting is a concept where we act in order to have results. We parent our children so that they can go to bed, do well in school, act in certain ways, and think how we want them to think.
But what if we switch from parenting our children to being a loving parent? Instead of working to have certain outcomes (the verb form–parenting), we instead focus to be the best we can, regardless of what happens next.
Today at bedtime, I wanted my kids to calm down and go to sleep. So I decided to employ some good parenting techniques: we played a few games, I read stories, sang songs, and tried to show love and attention to my children. But I wanted results. I was parenting: if I did it right, then my kids would calm down and go to sleep.
Do you know what happened? They would not calm down. They giggled and they would not listen. I was trying to do the right thing, or so I thought, but I was doing the right thing only for a certain conclusion that was not happening. (And then I got very frustrated, which did not help anything.)
Parenting (working for specific results) is not effective because kids are people and people make choices. That means that even if we parent perfectly, we may not ever be able to get our kids to think and respond in the ways we want.
But being a better parent is not dependent on the outcome. It’s just doing what is right no matter what happens. If the kids are misbehaving and disrespecting and being horrible, I can always be a loving parent. I can control what I do–and this is a lot easier if I’m not attached to results.
I have to let go of my parenting goals and those expectations I want. Which means I have to stop thinking and googling things like “how do I make my kids (go to sleep, do well in school, stop hitting each other, listen to me, respect others, etc.).” I have to realize that my kids will make choices that I do not like. And that they will do this a lot, and I cannot control it.
I can guide them, love them, and teach them. There can be consequences to actions. I can tell them what is right and wrong.
But at the end of the day, I will never be able to force them to go to sleep (or do so many other things). Instead, I can only force myself to love them even more.