What kind of dad do you want to be? What if I told you that all of your success as a parent could be boiled down to one variable? What if I told you you could have the ability to be in complete control of your parenting journey?
Hi my name is Stephen Kluserits (Clue-sir-its) I’m a 40 something father of two. I’m the creator of HappyDadding.ca and the author of “Beat your kids (at, sports, games etc) and other advice for dads” available soon from Olympiapublishers.com.
I believe that the only variable to parenting is: how will you respond? In general, kids will act up act out and try to find their boundaries. They may have special or exceptional needs. The only question for me is : “What will I do about it?”. In fact Ive begun to apply this to all aspects of my life. You will get cut off in traffic, you’re boss might be a jerk BUT you are in control of how you react. We need not be slaves to the automatic responses we are often conditioned too.
HOW DID THIS OCCUR?
I’m not a parenting expert just a guy who loves being a dad and I’m obsessed with getting better at it.
I actively pursue my parenting plan of helping my kids to become capable accountable and confident not to mention self aware.
But it wasn’t always this way. My early days as a dad were fraught with the frustrations that we all feel. As a result I was defaulting to a command and demand style of parenting and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t enjoying my time as a new parent. I felt as though I had no control. Something had to change.
That’s when this notion of one variable parenting hit me.
I cant tell you how I came to this realization. I can tell you it offered me an antidote to what I was experiencing. It gave me a ton of control at least over myself. More importantly it gave me choices. My responses could be up to me. I didn’t need to default to the automatic response of command and demand parenting. Think of how many times you’ve yelled at your kids. Now think about how many times it has helped. That style of parenting is always about our ego and less about what’s best for our kids. Although we tell ourselves we are doing them a favour…kids love being yelled at right?
SIMPLE NOT EASY
So what do I do with this new idea? I often say simple and easy are two different things. This idea was simple ….not easy. For me when i want to make meaningful change i practice it when its easy. Simply put I took time to think. I started to reflect on my previous reactions to various situations. I then started to decide how I WANTED to respond. I asked myself what kind of dad do I really want to be. What made sense to me and most importantly what might my kids need in those moments.
WHAT TO DO?
To help facilitate this skill I’ve created a habit of checking in with myself. If I’m to control my reactions I believe I need to be very aware of my internal world. I began to consciously check in with myself. I would simply ask myself a few times a day “how do I feel?” and then “how do I want to feel?”. I believe our emotions are real but the thoughts that generate them often are not. We all have emotions so better to face them ….like a man.
I began working meditation into my day before sleep and again when I wake. I’m certainly not a pro but it’s had the desired effect of deliberate calm. Simply downloading a guided meditation app has been a huge help.
POWER OF PAUSE
This notion of controlling my reactions has lead me to some remarkable resources. I found a conscious parenting course by Dr Shefali on Mindvalley.com.
This course has helped my mental well being in a myriad of ways. For the purposes of this article the skill that has helped the most has been “the pause”. What do they tell you on an airplane? Secure your own mask before helping another. In other words you cant help anyone if you’re incapacitated. This is the idea behind the pause. It means when difficult situations arise as a father (heck in life)stop, pause, asses how you currently feel, then how you want to feel and what is needed at this moment. Now you are poised to decide your reaction to what your little one needs in the moment. This has helped me to STOP parenting from my ego and instead from a place of understanding. I can quickly sort myself out and THEN help them. I can better understand where they might be and help them regulate their emotions.
BE KIND..ESPECIALLY TO YOURSELF
Again this notion is simple not easy. Be kind to yourself. You are potentially un doing years of conditioning. There are many instances where I misunderstand a situation. When this occurs I apologize to my kids and explain my thinking. I believe if I want them to be accountable I should model that behaviour. I also include them in my self awareness process. Ill simply ask them from time to time “how do you feel?”. I hope that I’m helping them to forge self awareness and the ability to regulate their own internal world and therefore how they respond.
So my challenge to you is this:
Think about what kind of dad you want to be, think about what you want as a parent, now choose how you will respond after all I believe its really the only thing that matters. We expect our kids to control themselves shouldn’t they expect the same from us?