Andrea Loewen Nair: Connect-Four Parenting


8 Ways to Value the Person Beyond the Parent

Try these tips to not lose "you" in parenting

Appreciate Yourself Outside of Your Parenting Role |

Parenting is a full-time, all-consuming job. Even when we leave for work in the morning or spend a few hours away from our children to run errands on the weekend, we don’t take off our “parent” hat. We are always Mom or Dad. And yet it is important that we value the person beyond the title of Mom or Dad.

Valuing the person beyond the parent is a critical part of my Connect Four Pillars. First, it helps us connect with our core beliefs, which really do affect how we think and act. Second, it teaches our children empathy because they learn that we – their parents – have wants, needs, and feelings aside those that exist in relation to them. Third, it helps us connect with our children in a personal way that extends beyond the parent-child relationship. And fourth, valuing the person beyond the parent helps us maintain a connection to our own emotions, which can sometimes get hidden under the grittier parts of the parenting role.

Here are eight ways parents can value the person beyond the parent:

Make your needs known and important

All too often, we parents put the needs of our children first and let our own needs slip to the bottom of the list – or off the list entirely. Eating meals with our children, instead of picking at food while tending to their meals is one way we can show our children that our eating time is as important as theirs.

Other needs like being rested enough, being heard, and having fun time, for example, can really change our parenting experience. Talking with our children about the things that we need in order to be a healthy and happy person demonstrates that others have needs, too.

Practice self-care

Simple things like taking a walk around the block, exercising (even for a short time), and reading a good book can help replenish depleted energy reserves. I make sure to mention to my children that I do activities like yoga and ride my bike because they are things that help me feel better. I even biked when I was pregnant!

Biking while pregnant |

Encourage our spouse/co-parent in front of the children

Parents can help remind each other of the person beyond the parent by noticing each other’s successes, efforts, and struggles, and talking about those in front of their children.

We are in the process of opening an independent school right now, which has certainly been challenging! I’m letting my children know how my husband and I are supporting each other as we go through this building phase of life. It’s important to me that they watch me filling my husband’s buckets up and using “I see yous” like I do with them.

Acknowledge our shortcomings

No one is perfect and, even more importantly, no one expects us to be. As parents, we sometimes set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and then get frustrated when we fall short. By acknowledging our shortcomings, we can teach our children several valuable lessons about learning from our mistakes, how to deliver a heartfelt apology, and the power of forgiveness.

Laugh at our own mistakes

Parenting – and life in general – is filled with a fair amount of ridiculousness. Sometimes all you can do is laugh! "Laughter releases the same tension as tears," Laura Markham, PhD.

Steer away from criticizing ourselves in front of our children

While it is important that we parents maintain a bit of levity surrounding this very serious role of parenting, it is also important that our children do not hear us criticizing ourselves. Try to avoid using negative words to describe our bodies or personality and instead talk about self-improvement.

Put the focus on analyzing what needs to be changed and talk about the different options for making those changes. I’m a fan of using SMART goals, so perhaps share a goal with your children—and how that goal is going as time passes.

Let your child see you spend time with friends and doing adult activities

Not only is spending time with our friends important for our own adult relationships, but it also teaches our children to value those relationships in their own life as well.

When our children see us spending time with others who are important to us, we model healthy adult relationships for them.

Surround yourself with people who help you be your best self

The world is a noisy place. Comparisons to others can make it difficult to feel like competent parents and good people. While we all have areas for improvement, surrounding ourselves with positive people will help us learn and grow – as parents and people – in a safe and healthy way.

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had with parenting has been a sense of losing myself while being a mom. Turning this around has been important for me because I feel that I’m a better mom, plus a much happier person, when I have a strong sense of who I am as an individual. Being aware of how I present myself as a person with needs, feelings, and goals has helped me feel happier and also show my children that I am more than just their parent.

Do you have any questions or comments? Feel free to leave those below or over on my Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you!

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