Since way before my children were born, I began looking for answers to all the secrets and wonders of parenting.
I read blogs and books. I spent my drives listening to podcasts. I took countless parenting courses and gathered advice from more experienced moms.
I became so wrapped up in the answers from outside of me that I totally drowned out the one within. Perhaps I didn’t trust it. Or maybe I just thought others knew better. Over time, even when that inner voice did try to speak up, I shushed her to make room for what the experts had to say.
As my child went from womb to baby to toddler and beyond, this quieting of myself only intensified as the influx of new tools, tips, and best practices came rolling in. Sometimes it felt deafening.
On one hand, I felt like my tool belt was growing at rapid speeds. My type-A personality was determined to be well prepared and have a kit so expansive that it would cover all of life’s “what if” moments.
The instruction I received was good … no, amazing. I was beginning to understand my child’s behaviors based on development, which was the start of understanding their behavior as a symptom of some unmet need or lagging skill.
Outside moments of dysregulation, I felt like I was killing it. Go ahead and give me an A. Just call me GOAT (okay, maybe not quite).
But during meltdowns and big behaviors where I had to face my own triggers, you know when shit gets real (and hard), I felt like I was lost, chasing a parenting “to-do” list.
Do you know how exhausting it feels to have a raging child while also escalating myself and attempting to access the logical part of my brain - the part which stored the file cabinet of all past parenting experts who told me the “right thing” to do when my child did this thing he was doing?!
It comes dressed up as a script: When your child does this then say this.
Or some parenting version of Connect The Dots: If your child does A then do B or C. And if they do E then do F or G.
All of that which I am SO grateful for. It has built a beautiful foundation for me to re-parent my own neurology as I influence that of my child. But that is what it is, a foundation, not the entire structure.
Here’s the message I really want parents to hear: It doesn’t matter how big your tool belt is if it pulls you out of relationship with your child.
Too often, all of the things that are meant to help us feel well-equipped as parents are the same things that leave us feeling not enough.
Use these tools like this and your child “should” respond like this. Great … but when they don’t, guess what, there goes another tally mark in our “failed” column.
Sometimes too much information is a gift. And sometimes it is a roadblock.
There is no parenting expert who can tell you exactly what you and your child need in a given moment. Your relationship with your child is too intimate and fluid for that.
The only person who truly knows is that voice that you’ve been conditioned to drown out.
So, when you feel the heat rising, maybe ask all of those other experts you’ve collected in your head to take a seat so that YOU can come to the mic.
Ask yourself, What do I need right now? And, What does my child need right now?
It is then that you will have found your answers.