QUOTES & WISDOM
TOP OF THE MIND
QUOTES & WISDOMfrom the Top of the Mind
QUOTES & WISDOM
Top of the Mind
Nancy Perovic, RN, BSN
University Of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, IL
Parenting in the “Never Enough” World
Because we love our kids and want them to be successful, we all want to know how to be great parents. What Dr. Brown’s research has shown, however, is that, rather needing to be the perfect parent, we should be asking, “Are we being the person we want our kids to become?” and, “Are we giving our kids a foundation of self-worth and confidence that will allow them to deal with success and the inevitable failures that come with being an adult?”
Many of you may know that I’m a big fan of Brene’ Brown. I have admired her books and TED Talks on vulnerability and shame, especially as these concepts apply to being an effective leader. In her book, “Daring Greatly,” she does an excellent job of speaking to the concept of effective parenting (she calls it, “Wholehearted Parenting”) and how important this is in the world we live in today, where fear of “not being enough” is so prevalent.
One of the things I admire about her work is that it is grounded in research which speaks to how our experience as kids influences our ability to be successful as adults. She writes, “From the very beginning of my research, I have always paid attention to how research participants talk about being parented and parenting.” The bottom line is, “what we learn about ourselves and how we learn to engage the world as children sets a course that will either require us to spend a significant part of our life fighting to reclaim our self-worth, or will give us hope, courage, and resilience for our journey.”
Unfortunately, for many parents, their focus is more on correcting perceived weaknesses and/or failures than inspiring their children’s self-worth. This can be a problem, because kids tend to interpret being corrected (especially when shame is part of the experience), as information about their character or lack of worthiness which sets up a constant struggle to be “enough” in the eyes of their parents, or exacerbates the fear that they are never enough, no matter what they do.
Now, to be clear, this isn’t about always praising our children or overlooking their mistakes. We don’t want to be either the “helicopter parent” or the “lawnmower parent” (someone who prepares the path for the kid rather than the kid for the path). Instead, this is about engaging them in a way where they sense our confidence in their ability to be successful. This means actively bringing out their best versus criticizing their worst.
For those of you who follow my “Life from the Top of the Mind” philosophy, you know that this also means connecting with the part of them (specifically, a part of their brain) where the qualities of hope, resilience, persistence and self-worth reside. In order to do this, we need to be coming from the clear, confident, creative, and compassionate part of who we are (versus being frustrated, or annoyed) so that they see us engaging the world in a way we would like them to emulate, and in a way where their self-worth reflected in our eyes.
In her chapter on “wholehearted parenting,” Dr. Brown also speaks to the importance of “belonging,” or feeling like you belong. This is especially meaningful to kids between the ages of say, 12 and 20, because this is the time of their lives where how they are perceived by their friends becomes so important. Therefore, in her research, Dr. Brown went to the “experts,” a group of eighth grade students, and asked them the difference between “belonging” and “fitting in.” She says that she was “floored by their answers,” as was I.
The students said,
• “Belonging is being somewhere you want to be and they want you. Fitting in is being somewhere you want to be, but they don’t care one way or the other.”
• “Belonging is being accepted for you. Fitting in is being accepted for being like everyone else.”
• “I get to be me if I belong. I have to be like you to fit in.”
Therefore, if we want our kids to look for a sense of belonging versus feeling the need to fit in…if we want them to strive toward creating the life they want with confidence versus fighting to reclaim their self-worth, and if we want them to consistently access the best of who they are versus becoming trapped in the worried, fear-based, and shame-based, lower brain, then we must show them what that looks like.
This means being the adult we want them to be, and engaging them in a way where they see their self-worth reflected, not only in our behavior, but in our eyes. Throughout their childhood, our kids will be looking to us to see if they are worthy of belonging and worthy of being valued by others. The greatest gift we can give them is not needing to be a perfect parent, but engaging them in such a way that our love for them and their worthiness is never in question.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill