I didn't start out knowing how to parent.
When my kids were loud, cranky, mad, sad--anything but happy, really, I made it about me. Some of my thoughts: Other parents are watching me and I've got to DO something, I'm not a good Mom, This sucks!, I have to control them, They're going to become horrible adults because I'm not doing this right.
I parented in ways that I'm not proud of (hell, I still have my moments!)...until I started trusting myself. Trusting that I could navigate parenting based on my core feelings--what I'm about to do or say--will it feel like love or like fear? Will it feel like nourishment or like poison in our relationship?
If what I'm about to do feels like poison, I'll regret it later. If what I'm about to do feels like nourishment, I'll celebrate it later. I'm becoming more aware of my choice points before I do or say something.
What I've learned is that I'm not here to teach my children how to behave. I'm here to teach myself to behave and then watch as my behavior trickles down to them.
My kids have just as much to teach me about being "in the moment" and enjoying life one giggle at a time as I have to teach them about values and ethics.
I used to yell "Stop hurting your brother!", with my face full of anger and judgment. How much was I hurting my child as I said (OK, yelled) not to hurt others? What if, instead, I said nothing and hugged my child with compassion? Recognized that she's human and is doing the best with the tools she has (just like I am)? Realized that I'm expecting more of her than I am of myself? Later I could show her more tools; in that moment all she is asking for is love and connection.
Speaking of trickle down moments, last night my 10 year old and I were cuddling before bed. He asks if we can watch a TV show before bed. I say no, I'm really wanting to read my book and have quiet time. He says, "What other solutions could we come up with? Could you read your book for 15 minutes and then we could watch a show?"
How many times have I asked that question: "What other solutions can we come up with?" while negotiating conflict in our family.
He was listening!
I celebrated for many reasons--he asked respectfully, he partnered with me, he modeled how I'd like to ask questions, he had another solution ready that might work for both of us, he was ready to accept my answer either way.
All good skills for a human being of any age to have.