Self-acceptance is a struggle for so many of us. I’m happy to share the wisdom of child therapist and fellow PsychCentral blogger Natasha Daniels
with you today. Natasha helps us connect the dots between how we feel about ourselves and how we parent. I’m sure you will enjoy her insights.
How Accepting Yourself Can Make You A Better Parent
by Natasha Daniels, LCSW
It normally starts off after puberty and builds momentum from there. I am too fat. I am too thin. I am too shy. I am too dumb. The list can go on and on. We start to build a list of inadequacies in our head in which we compare our life experiences. Often going out of our way to prove to ourselves that our list is right. That we are less than in some way.
When we enter parenthood – the list of inadequacies can continue to grow. My house is too messy. I don’t spend enough time with my kids. My meals aren’t healthy. I don’t talk to other moms.
When we live by our list – we don’t fully enjoy life or ourselves.
Learning to accept ourselves can be a challenge – especially when we have been hyper-focusing on our negative traits. But learning to accept ourselves isn’t only good for us – it is good for our parenting.
When we accept ourselves great things start to happen to our parenting…
YOU ARE A BETTER “YOU”
When we feel good – we spread our love and positive energy to those around us – especially to our children. Children are emotional sponges soaking up whatever is oozing out of us. When we ooze out irritability and negativity – negativity will permeate our home. When we ooze out love and positivity – it will be felt by those around us.
OUR CHILDREN ARE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE HIGHER SELF-ESTEEM
Accepting ourselves not only improves our self-esteem – it helps our children’s self-esteem too. Say what? It’s true. If we go through life making comments like, “I look so big!” Or “Mommy messed that up again!” – our children are going to learn that negative self-talk is okay. Monkey see monkey do. When we embrace who we are and ditch the denigrating comments – our children are much more likely to do the same.
So after decades of self-criticism, how do we start to accept ourselves?
EMBRACE YOUR APPEARANCE
For starters we should accept our physical identity. We spend our teen years striving to reach an unattainable body crafted by unrealistic magazine images. In our adult years we scour our old photos marveling at our perfectly small teen bodies.
It is time to stop the madness.
Embrace who you are. Eat well to live a healthy life. Appreciate what your body has done for you. When you love your body – your children are more likely to love their little bodies too.
EMBRACE YOUR PERSONALITY
We should figure out who we are – not who we aren’t. Are you an introvert? An extrovert? Do you go out of your way to help others? Figure out what qualities you love about yourself.
I recently discovered that I am an introvert. I spent years – no decades – beating myself up for not being social enough. Once I realized who I am, who I always had been, I became a much happier person. And do you know the best part about that? My kids felt that happiness too.
EMBRACE YOUR PRIORITIES
We cannot be everything to everyone. We clean the house and feel guilty we didn’t play with the kids. We play with the kids and feel guilty we didn’t clean the house. We work out of the home and we feel bad we aren’t with our kids. We stay home and we feel bad that we don’t earn the money. It can seem as though parents can’t get a break.
It is time to itemize our priorities and stop beating ourselves up. What are your life priorities? Spoiler alert – it can’t be everything.
Pick two or three areas where you want to thrive and save the most energy for those priorities. It doesn’t mean you have to drop the ball on your other priorities, it just means you aren’t going to beat yourself up when you don’t knock those priorities out of the park.
Life is too short to be obsessing about what we don’t like about ourselves. When you strip away all of the negative self-talk and constant internal criticism – you are left with a life full of little people, little giggles, and a whole lot of love.
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