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Don’t Hide Your Feelings From Your Kids

Dear Friend,

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Be Emotionally Authentic With Your Kids

To be a great parent, is it better to try to always be on your best behavior around your kids, or to just be you, even if that means all of your flaws, hypocrisies and bad judgments are right out there in your children’s faces?

It’s easy to talk about this, but when we are around our kids, we are under a lot of peer pressure to behave a certain way. If friends or extended family are around, we feel like we are being judged as parents. And our parental behavior is likely at its most idealized in these moments.

Which approach to parenting do you think is best?

Should we strive to be the ideal parent we want to be? Or should we strive to live the best life we can? Is parenting a separate job from just living?  Besides protection and acknowledging the need of children to be noticed, acknowledged and loved, is the teaching part of parenting a separate process that you must perform as a parent? Or should we just live our lives as we wish and let our children watch us, while keeping them up to snuff about what it is they are watching?

I think that most adults strive to protect their kids from the courser edges of the real world. I certainly do. We want to protect their childhood innocence as long as we can. Perhaps every human being deserves a period of innocence in their life? But does that act of protection mean that we change our own behavior, or at least the behavior we expose our children to, to “protect” our kids from our own coarser edges?

I don’t think this is a cut-and-dried answer either way you go.  But I do think that so many of us are embarrassed by aspects of ourselves – our shadow selves – that we hide them from everyone, including ourselves. Yet kids cannot learn to be at peace with themselves if they don’t see their parents struggling with the same issue.

You don’t have to be fully self-actualized to raise a wise and balanced child. You just need to be honest with yourself and your kids about where you are in your own struggle for internal peace and your own search for happiness.  Let them see you in all your ugly glory when you cry, you laugh, you yell and you are at peace. Let them know that this is all a part of being human.

All the best,

Hugh

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