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Calling All Parents – You Are Enough!

08 October 2021

Many of us seek to create Version 2.0 of ourselves because we feel like Version 1.0 is flawed. This thinking is problematic for a plethora of reasons - we feel that when we make mistakes, we have failed and are back to the broken version we started at. We set ourselves up to fail, which further reinforces the negative thoughts we are trying to change!

As parents, we often seek support because we feel like we are failing - deep down we say to ourselves “I am NOT good enough”.  When the strategies we learn don’t seem to work in that moment, we feel that we’ve failed again. Our children see this, and the flow-on effect can be devastating - after all, modelling is the most powerful way of learning. It starts with us.

Our goals should not be ‘fixing’ ourselves (or our children) or aiming to be Version 2.0. Instead, we should look to be vulnerable - opening our hearts and looking introspectively to see that we are enough as a parent, as a friend, as a wife or a husband. We should also work to help our children see that they are enough.

This approach can help you establish true and meaningful connections, experience love and joy with others and build a wonderful platform to propel yourself toward the life you desire. If you measure your success by trying to never make mistakes or fall down, you may find yourself in a negative cycle where you struggle to push boundaries and create the positive change you need.  

It’s important our children know they are worthy, as they are. Don’t forget that you are worthy, as you are. Parenting is about turning up, trying your best, owning your mistakes (and not letting them own you), then getting up and trying it all again tomorrow.  

So…where can you start? All journeys start with just one step, so take it today. 

Look for one, small step that will lead you in the direction you want to go. Celebrate that step, no matter how small! You made a choice to take it - you could have chosen not to. We often set the bar so high for ourselves that it seems impossible to reach it - this only serves to reinforce our feeling of failure!

Image you’re having a challenging day with your kids. When you have a moment of respite, I’m sure you think to yourself, “I could have, I should have, why did I say that?” When these negative thoughts start, practice the following steps:  

  • STOP. Take 5-10 deep, slow breaths. 

Really concentrate on your breath and feeling the air move in and out of your body. This will give you a chance to start to distance yourself from the negativity you are experiencing. With each exhalation, imagine yourself dropping closer and closer to your heart - you will know when you are there.

  • Shift your perspective. Look at WHAT IS RIGHT with the situation.

No matter how small, there is always something going right.

Did you get angry and walk off? That’s okay - you were able to be self aware enough to know when you were reaching your limit. You could have stayed and yelled and screamed more (or worse), but you didn’t!

It can be hard to be in a position where you feel intense emotions. In sport, we often ‘lower the bar’ when learning a new skill - have you ever tried a chin-up, or a pushup? They aren’t easy, so trainers often introduce progression or modified exercises to help us get to the point where we can do it.  They create success by lowering the bar to a point where we can feel success and build upon it. Without this, we often just give up. It’s the same for us as parents!  

  • Acknowledge your strengths and name them - label yourself.

You had a bad day, and you didn’t respond ‘perfectly.’ Why does it upset you so much? Because you care! You are a sensitive, caring and loving parent who is doing the best they can with the tools they have. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t get upset. 

You are criticising yourself and ruminating over what went wrong. Wow - look at your ability to reflect and recall events and utilise your problem solving skills. This isn’t about pretending that everything is perfect, it’s about letting yourself be vulnerable and acknowledging that you may not be perfect, but you care and you are trying. 

Will doing these things ‘fix’ everything? Of course not, but they’re a step in the right direction. Am I perfect? Far from it - just ask my wife!  But you know what, I am enough…and so are you.

Bart Traynor

Clinical Psychologist

State Manager, Accelerate Health.