There’s an epidemic of parents “doing their best.” That phrase, by the way, is code for, “I just repeat the cycle that was done to me and hope for the best.”
Sure, in reality, we are all truly doing our best. And nobody is perfect. But most people who use that phrase are using it as an excuse to the degree that it’s no longer true.
If we’re all truly doing our best, then our best isn’t good enough. There’s a childhood obesity epidemic, a bullying epidemic, a perpetual state of war, and a societal system of raising kids that’s mostly abusive.
I’m not trying to be negative, I’m simply laying out my observations.
There’s a few key principles that have shifted my entire thinking when it comes to life and raising children. These principles point to the truth and let you know if you’re truly doing your best.
Hurt people hurt people, including themselves.
If we hurt children, they’ll grow up to hurt others and themselves.
We’re seeing this now in obvious ways with the bullying epidemic. Beyond that, adults are struggling with relationships, connection, self-respect, and intimacy.
These are all side effects varying degrees of abuse. Some of the abuse may be obvious and some less intuitive. Some is light and socially acceptable and some is tragic and hidden away.
“Doing your best” means identifying as many points of abuse as possible in yourself and your own parenting and weeding them out. And honing the tools that will allow you to connect with your child on a deeper level, provide for all their needs (not just their physical needs), and keep them safe (not just from others, but from you).
“Do as I say, not as I do” is an abused, hypocritical cop out.
If you want to “do your best” as a parent, the first step is to identify all instances of hypocrisy and end those behaviors.
The mindset of, “I can do what I want because I’m the adult/parent and I was here first” is a double-edged sword. Sure, it’s convenient. But it also creates inconvenience for yourself and others down the road.
If you don’t accept your child hitting, then you need to stop hitting.
If you don’t accept your child cursing, then you need to stop cursing.
If you don’t accept your child eating junk food, then you need to stop eating junk food.
The best leadership you can provide is modeling. It’s highly inconvenient, but it’s your only option when you play out the game — honestly — in your head.
Smaller people don’t have smaller rights.
All of this becomes easier when you accept that children are not objects that we possess, but sovereign human beings. Smaller people don’t have smaller rights.
Children still have a right to physical safety (especially from you). Children still have a need for autonomy. Children still have need for connection. And they have a need for physiological stuff like food that doesn’t do them harm.
Our current society is struggling because it’s concocted a system where adults do things to children. Rather than leading, everyone is towing. It’s a domination system. A child bully is simply a reflection of all the adult bullies in their life. A disconnected child, the same.
Everything changes when we restore basic human rights to children and do things with them. We succeed when we prepare the child, rather than preparing the path. We succeed when we cooperate rather than dominate. And when we show, rather than tell. Respectful children are born out of respectful conditions.
Theory to practice.
When developing tactics to accomplish our goals as parents, it’s important that we keep these principles in mind. And use them as a litmus test for whatever theory we want to put into practice.
If you agree with the principles, then you’ll agree with effective tactics that align with those principles. Make sense?
It’s also important to reject the false dichotomy that says, “either you dominate a child or you get dominated by that child.” Peaceful parenting is not passive parenting. That black or white mindset is wielded by people who simply don’t know another way.
That very well may be you right now. You might be reading this saying, “what in the world?” I get it. It’s foreign. It’s not mainstream. But continue with an open mind and you’ll enjoy the fruits of actually doing your best: truly healthy, happy children whom you have a deep, connected, influential relationship with.
“Doing your best” is about hitting pause on a broken record instead of repeat. And then replacing that broken record with one that works and isn’t so obnoxious. Even if your record isn’t completely broken and it’s just scratched a little bit, doing your best means doing the important work regardless.
What are you feeling about this, right now? Tell me in the comments.