Parents in the Raiseology course have been sharing with me a lot lately about how they want to change their parenting, but don’t feel ready. I asked neuropsychologist Dr. Shannon Irvine to give us her perspective and some practical advice on how to start making positive improvements.
Situation: Parents KNOW they need to make a change but don’t feel like they’re ready to change.
Question: How do parents move through the different stages of change to improve their parenting?
The first step of change really is recognizing that whether you believe it or not, you have a story that’s governing how you parent.
It all begins with our own experiences as a child which shape our beliefs on parenting. In general, there are two ways of looking at our parents through our childhood lenses:
Lens #1 – “the rose-colored glasses childhood” My parents were amazing, and that’s my model for parenting and nothing else can be different than what my parents did. And that’s perfection. And that’s what I want.
Those beliefs create your thoughts,
Your thoughts create your actions
If you’re in that group of parents, you need to decide if you’re going to take your thoughts off autopilot or not. Taking our thoughts off autopilot is the first step of change: recognizing that whether you believe it or not, you have a story that’s governing how you parent. It’s important to be extremely curious about what that story is because it is driving how you parent.
And now the more common scenario:
Lens #2 – “not so rosy childhood memories” Negative things happened in my childhood and I will never __fill in the blank___ .
All the things we swear we will never repeat as parents with our own children are hardwired into our subconscious. BUT, then we find ourselves doing those same “I will never” things. And that causes inner turmoil. Anytime there’s a conflict from your subconscious to what you’re doing in your conscious world, there’s a feeling of dis-ease. There’s a feeling of “this isn’t right.” And then, add to the mix your children who don’t comply with your rules around parenting. You realize, if they would just comply with your methodology, it would be okay. But they aren’t cooperating. We quickly realize that for this parenting thing to make sense, we must parent the individual child.
In order to parent the individual child, we need to take our parenting thinking off of autopilot. We need to recognize that all of our actions (parenting, non-parenting, business) are governed by stories that have kept us safe as a child but don’t service us as adults. That means it’s time to ask questions and get curious about why you parent the way you parent.
Why am I doing it that way?
What am I trying to fulfill in myself?
Our stories are created to protect ourselves. So in getting super curious, we reach that first step to changing and defining the parent that you want to be.
Taking this step is something 90 percent of people never do. Most people don’t question their stories, and then they wonder why they’re getting the results that they’re getting with their parenting.
Every human on the planet is different. So isn’t it puzzling that we’ve subconsciously told ourselves the story that we can parent the same for all of our children? It’s a story that wreaks havoc in our lives.
How do you get yourself to that point where you’re ready to make that change even though the process might be a little grueling? (Just as it is with sleep training or any other big step)
Here’s what I encourage you to do:
1. Create an extremely clear vision of the outcome. (We do this in other areas of life, but not usually in parenting.)
For example, if you owned a businesses, you wouldn’t say you wanted to make money and then not take it beyond that. That would be way too broad.
It’s the same thing with your parenting. If the goal is sleep training, of course you want your child to sleep through the night. But you need to have a compelling enough reason when you’re only getting two hours of sleep that night because you’re putting them back down for the 50,000th time. Instead, if your mind is on that vision and where you’re headed for your child and for your child’s health and well being, you’ll be focused on WHY you’re doing this thing instead of focusing on the problem.
2. Decide what YOU want. You’ve created a clear vision for what you want for your child. But make sure you’re including what you want, as well. There are two individuals here (you and your child…or more if you have a spouse and other children). You need to create a complete picture.
Next, make sure that the actions you take align with your vision and not just the urgency of the moment. The urgency of the of the moment will pass, and being able to shift and focus on the long-term is difficult, but worth it.
Getting on the same page with your co-parent
Do NOT try to discuss your parenting philosophy in the middle of a stressful parenting situation. Wait and talk through it when you can sit down and calmly meet away from the kids.
In the business world, you would never try to accomplish a project without sitting down and making sure everybody was on the same page. It would fail, yet we do it with our parenting despite it being so much more important.
Sit down with your partner/spouse/co-parent and, and make decisions together.
- How are we going to discipline?
- How are we going to approach them when they don’t do what we say?
- Define the stress points in your parenting where you differ and then compromise.
I even recommend writing an actual contract. That way, when you encounter a stressful situation, you aren’t as tempted to revert back to your old habits prior to the compromise with your partner. It’s another way to take your parenting off autopilot and deciding what you want your story to be.
Sharon here! If Dr. Shannon’s words resonated with you and you’re unsure how to apply her advice to your family, don’t try to do it alone! Shoot me an email at Sharon@raiseology.com or join us in our parenting community in the Facebook group – Raiseology Parenting. We’d love to offer support and walk through these changes with you!
About our guest: Dr. Shannon Irvine is the founder of Mosaic Vision, a non profit that serves AIDS orphans in rural Uganda Africa. The mission of Mosaic Vision is to restore the lives of AIDS orphans. Dr Irvine is also a Phd in Psychology with an emphasis in neuro-psychology and neuro-plasticity. She uses her credentials to help the orphans in Uganda thrive. Dr Irvine is also a business mentor who loves helping others master their thoughts, habits, emotions, and schedules to live the life and business that honors God and their priorities.