I’ve never been one to keep up with the Jones’. I don’t buy for my kids based on what other people are buying for their kids. I don’t try to emulate any other parents. If anything, I try my best not to replicate other’s behaviour. I can be judgemental at times but I also try to see behind behaviour to why people do the things they do.
However, I’m constantly trying to be a better parent. I’m super competitive and I must win. My opponent… myself. I am forever trying to outdo myself as a dad. I am my own worst enemy. No matter what I do, I always feel like it isn’t enough. The pressure I feel as a parent is all self-inflicted and I have struggled to relax and enjoy my life as a parent.
After a lot of reflection and self-searching I reckon I now know where it all comes from. Firstly, I’m insecure, which creates the competition with myself. Secondly, I had what some would call a difficult upbringing and so I try to not replicate my parents actions.
So, I’m insecure. I can say that. I don’t mind people knowing. I don’t think much of myself very often. I have always tried to be humble and yet this has cultivated in me a self-deprecation whereby I struggle to take credit for my own successes and that’s not what humility is.
Humility as I understand it now is about not holding yourself above others, accepting your faults and limitations and giving credit where credit is due. This includes credit to yourself. I often think it’s not very British to give yourself credit for the things you do well. I like to encourage others but deflect it when others give it to me.
Which brings me to my upbringing. I don’t think I was given much praise or reassurance as a kid. I was often responsible for a lot. Before I was 10, I had lost a brother and my sister was born with severe health complications who also passed after a couple of years. My childhood at times was a bit shit.
At this point the way I remember it I felt like a 3rd parent to my younger siblings. Often left in control of my siblings, needing to set the good example and such. As I say after much reflection, I did this with rarely a pat on the back or much by means of input from my parents.
I get it now. They were in pain. They were grieving a loss that I hope I never know. Yes, I lost a brother and sister but now being a parent I can never imagine going through that. They were doing the best they could, in their own ways. It wasn’t their fault.
So, getting back to my life today as a parent. How do I overcome such challenges? Firstly, I give myself credit. In the little things. I tell myself I did something well. It’s hard at first. You might feel stupid saying to yourself ‘nice work on making that packed lunch’ at first. However, you build up. Soon you get so used to doing the little things well that you move on to bigger things. It’s a bit of a snowball effect. When you change your self-talk to a positive voice you can change every aspect of your life.
You stop believing the negative and begin to believe what’s truly possible.
I am the master of my own reality. If it’s to be, it’s up to me (not sure where I heard that). What someone did or didn’t say to me 20 years ago has no place in the decisions I make for my children today.
I approach my parenting now from how I want to be a parent, rather than trying to avoid the mistakes I perceive of my own upbringing. By doing so, I am not only in control, but I’m letting go of the past. I no longer give sanction to the past. I now know that there is no use with competing against myself as a parent and no use in pulling myself down.
I am a good parent and I love my kids.