Who are Successful Children?
Let’s start with who they aren’t. Successful Children are not the children who attended top tier universities in the world. They are not the ones who, consciously or unconsciously, fulfil the dreams and desire of their parents. They are not the children who follow their parents' careers because that's what is expected of them nor are they the ones who rebel against their families’ standards. They don’t strive to be better than their parents but simply choose to live their own destiny. Successful Children do not allow themselves to be driven by guilt and responsibilities that don’t belong to them, and they are not driven by unconscious vindictiveness either. They do not lack EQ, rather, they know how to manage their emotions well.
Successful Children are the children who received acceptance, positive nurturing, and encouragement through challenging times. They are the ones who know the difference between conditional and unconditional love because they saw it practiced by their parents first and foremost. Successful Children are the children who grew up with positive and firm guidance, and were given a set of positive beliefs and the ability to freely express themselves emotionally. They were listened to and respected, not just as children, but as human beings. Successful Children are the children who learnt about their free will and ability to make their own choices and mistakes from their parents, therefore learning that they shape their own destinies from an early age. Successful Children are the kids who’s parents were committed to not using them to fill their own voids.
Successful Children are not the children who feel they must live up to the standards of excellence and integrity that their parents may or may not set up for them. They are guided and shown examples of moral values and then left free to choose what to make of the foundation of their own lives. Successful Children maintain a childlike, confident and curious attitude and nurture positive, non-judgemental thoughts towards themselves and others. Successful Children know and practice self-love and self-responsibility. They choose trust and courage over fear and toxic shame.
Is what I’m suggesting utopic? Absolutely not.
We’ve all been children. We’ve all had parents. We’ve all learnt from our parents. Our parents are our role models after all. But the difference between us and them is that you’re sat there reading this, and I’m sat here writing it. We are actively looking to become more aware, we have the choice to become more self-aware. Our parents weren’t all as fortunate as we are. The majority may have lived a life believing that there was no way to change and therefore unconsciously set themselves up to live out the same destiny as that of their own parents.
Today we have a choice. We can choose to become different parents (note: not better or worse, as I outlined in PART I, simply different). We can choose to follow a different path and break the chain.
As I said in PART I, being a parent isn’t so much about doing more or less for our children. It’s not even about doing more for ourselves in order to show our children that we’re the best parents. And we can’t learn to be parents by merely reading books or attending workshops, although new information can empower and motivate us.
Recap on what it means to be a parent
Being a parent is just that… being. Nobody is born a skilled and all-omniscient parent, even those lucky enough to have had a peaceful upbringing. Being a parent is about becoming. It’s a process and a never ending life process at that.
When I gave birth to my daughter, Stella, I was terrified. Leonardo, her father and my then-husband, was probably even more scared, having already raised two kids from his previous marriage.
I was scared because I had no clue how to raise a child. Nobody had given me any information or education on the subject, no wisdom was bestowed upon me by an old sage. When Stella was born, I did not know of or have access to any parenting skills books or manuals. And Stella’s father was scared because of the trauma he’d had to face having two children of his own and going through a divorce.
Of course, he already knew how to change diapers and deal with children crying at night when they’re hungry or in pain. But like me, he didn’t know what it meant to raise a child in a way that accepted and supported them intellectually, emotionally and physically.
Materially what you can provide for a child doesn’t make much of a difference between a parent and a child. It’s in fact the time you can share and be with them on an emotional, intellectual and physical level that makes the biggest difference. It doesn’t matter how many activities or hobbies you get your child to engage with, what matters is whether and how you encourage them to find and nurture their innate gifts. It doesn’t matter how well your child executes the life you think they should have, but rather your ability to embrace and love them just the way that they are.
My mum dreamt of being an accountant and working in a bank back in the day. When she wasn’t able to attain that dream, it suddenly became mine (according to her). On the contrary, my dream was to study languages and travel the world. Never coming close to meeting her expectations for me meant I began disappointing her very early in life. We didn’t have the strongest relationship because I wasn’t willing to do what she desired me to do. She wanted things her way, and I wanted them mine. Sound familiar?
My mother was very demanding because her own father had been the same with her. To this day, she never fully accepted me for who I am, a human being who was simply different to her.
I turned into a very demanding and controlling mother myself, as all stories go. I didn’t have any other example to show me how to do differently. But eventually, through my life experience, I was blessed and came to be a coach and counsellor. I eventually learnt the skills I hadn’t been equipped with and moulded myself into a parent who could act as a ‘role model’ for her daughter. I chose to break the chain with the past and leave a different (not better!) legacy.
I see Stella blossom every day and I see our relationship enriching and expanding because of our deep commitment to it. This is certainly not to say that it’s an easy task since we are both two strong women like my own mother and I. What motivates us is knowing that the effort to build this relationship together in awareness is deeply rewarding for us and future generations.
Indeed I feel blessed. Slowly, day-by-day, I transformed into the parent I’d always wanted to be for my child: someone who can make the effort to embrace, accept and love her daughter just as she is. Someone who can be authentic and unafraid to take responsibility for her mistakes, imperfections and vulnerabilities. Someone that thrives to give love in a way that offers a sense of freedom and doesn’t seek to control or manipulate.
As a parent, this doesn’t mean skipping out on the discipline or saying ‘yes’ to everything your child wants or does. To me it means getting to know ourselves inside out first, in order to eventually be able to be different parents for our children. I spent years unlearning everything I’d copied and modelled from my own parents and then other years re-learning what I believe is a different and healthy approach to raising a Successful Child today. Was it worth it? 100%.
Read my blog post Wholeness: The Search for our Lost Self for more in-depth information on investing in yourself and beginning the journey, Self Awareness: A Lifetime Journey for more on the importance of getting to know yourself and steps on how to and Do I Need a Life Coach? for some advice on how to find the right coach to support you on your journey. You can also read more about the Parenting Skills coaching I provide HERE.
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