I remember once crying so hard that I couldn't quite catch my breath. There I was sitting alone in my car questioning my ability to parent and sobbing uncontrollably. I suspect I am not alone. Like me, maybe you've asked if you're messing up this whole parenting gig. Like me, maybe you've beaten yourself up with the constant, "what am I doing wrong?"
Maybe it's just my personality, but I thrive in following directives and since parenting doesn't come with instructions, I've pretty much failed at everything, at least once. After almost 7 years as a mother, I have found that I have to keep it simple and keep it moving. A few years ago, I took a parenting class with my husband where we learned about every human being's seven basic needs (plus a bonus). This simple concept simplified my parenting approach and has really helped me turn all of those doubtful moments (and the uncontrollable crying fits) into looking for what needs aren't being met and meeting them.
Seven Basic Needs, plus a bonus (B Special):
B: belong - You, your children, spouse, co-workers, friends, neighbors... everyone wants to feel a part of something. Make sure to love inclusively and positively. Make others feel as though they belong and find something to belong to.
S: smile - Are you smiling often? How about your spouse, your children? If not, make up a reason to get silly & get smiling. Seems simple right? But you'd be surprised how little people are smiling, laughing and just having fun.
|TM: Parenting from the Heart|
P: powerful - Everyone wants to feel powerful. Now this doesn't mean power by controlling your kids or spouse, it just means feeling like you have the power to matter and contribute. This is especially true with kids. Naturally we want to do so much for them. Sometimes this is just logistically easier, but that can create unnecessary challenges. Let your kids do more for themselves, decide for themselves and contribute to family decisions. Even if you start with simple acts of power. Give them the ability to feel powerful.
E: explore - Overly used phrases with kids are "wait!" "calm down!" "stop!" Yup, these don't make a child feel very powerful and it sure as hell impedes their natural urge to explore and learn. Encourage this with them and with yourself. I love the great outdoors, I love music, writing and long discussions with those I love. All four of those allow me to explore and make me better!
C: connection - Seems basic but many times this is exactly what is lacking. With your spouse avoid feeling like roommates because that clearly impedes your connection. Work also on becoming the best communicators possible. Communication issues are the first to hinder true connection with most couples. With your children avoid simply being a dictator. Let connection be free and flowing. Make sure you're feeling connected to yourself and others then watch yourself feel more at peace and grounded.
I: important - How important do you feel... how about those you love? Give everyone in your world a chance to lead, to feel powerful, connected and ultimately IMPORTANT! Maybe that means you let your kids' decide on dinner and even make it on their own (with your gentle supervision, of course). Give them a chance to contribute and watch their little eyes light up because of how important and needed they feel.
A: attention - This one is getting harder by the minute with so much technology keeping us disconnected and absent. Kids need so much focused attention. Work to give them that with one-on-one dates, same with your spouse through romantic outings, and by spending time alone focused on you. This could also mean simple acts of kindness like leaving a love note for you spouse or child(ren). Take the time to give undivided attention and watch how much more effortless your relationships come to feel.
L: love - Love is love. Give it with all your might and don't forget the power of a simple "I love you!"
I've watched in amazement as my children's so-called negative behaviors have decreased when I've thought of the above needs and made sure those were being actually met. Maybe that meant I suddenly put away my cell phone to just give attention, or I completely change dinner plans so my children can have what they want and make them feel important in the process. I've let them play in the mud so they truly explore. And I've lectured less so that I connect fully and show LOVE! And you know what? Doing this not only makes us all smile, but we feel more powerful, in control and happy. I've become a better me just by meeting my NEEDS and the NEEDS of those in my life.
The next time you're beating yourself up about relationship difficulties and doubts, think about these 7 basic needs (plus a bonus) and improve upon any of those that feel off. You'll soon see just how much better everyone is for it. And everyone includes YOU!
How are your basic needs met? How do you meet the needs of those you LOVE?