Parenting can be one of the most rewarding, frustrating, heart-wrenching, and fulfilling endeavors – all in the same day. It’s a difficult role that rarely gets the acknowledgment it deserves. New parents bring a child into the world with no prior experience and are thrown into a serious full-time job, becoming responsible for the life of another human being.
No parent is perfect, and it’s easy to fall victim to myths that have been perpetuated throughout the years. It’s time to take a hard look at the things we’ve been told and debunk some of the biggest misconceptions that parents believe.
Here are 5 major myths about parenting:
Myth #1: Children should be raised to be obedient.
When children are young, there is a lot of focus placed on obedience. Children are taught to do as their told, not talk back, and be seen, not heard. But if you asked most parents who they hope their kids become as adults, they would likely say things like “independent, resourceful, critical thinker, resilient, and strong.” Isn’t it interesting that these goals seem at odds with the concept of obedience?
Often parents want to be the strongest voice in their kids’ heads, guiding them on right from wrong and what to do and what not to do. This creates obedient children, but what happens when the parent’s voice is no longer the strongest one in the room? When the children go to school and want to belong, they’ve been taught that they should follow the strongest voice. The parent’s voice becomes replaced with the ones at school.
If a parent says that the child can’t trust themself to make good choices for themselves, how will that child ever thrive as an adult? The message we want to send our children is, “You have a powerful voice inside connected to a greater power, and that ultimately is what you should listen to. My goal as a parent is to help you listen to this voice.” A spiritual child is one that is aware of their inner voice and is in tune and listening to it. When you cultivate this ability, you help them to shut out the other voices that can lead them astray. Think about where you expend your parenting energy. Is it on controlling their behavior or instilling those higher-level values?
Myth #2: Parenting ends once children reach a certain age.
When children are young, we are so concerned with their emotional state. We worry, “Do I hug them enough? Do I tell them I love them enough? Do they feel loved and safe?” As they grow and become more dynamic, parents tend to place less emphasis on their emotional health, often unconsciously.
The truth is that parenting doesn’t end once the kids are old enough to be self-sufficient or once they’ve left the nest. Parenting is a role that continues to grow and evolve our entire lives. There are periods when our children lean on us more and times when they need to be on their own. Sometimes children need their parents the most once they enter adulthood.
Myth #3: You can’t change your parenting style, especially once your children are grown.
Because parenting is an ever-evolving process that continues throughout our lives, it is never too late to adjust your parenting style. Some people dwell on the mistakes they made and the regrets they have about raising their children and think they’ve messed up as parents. The truth is you can become a great parent at any age.
If fostering a spiritual practice with your children has not been a priority for you in the past, you can start today! We always have the ability to edit our parenting style, no matter how old our children are.
Myth #4: Your child’s success and behavior are a reflection on you as a parent.
A common mistake parents can fall into is seeing their kids as an extension of themselves. When our child misbehaves, we often worry about how it makes us look to other people. Will people judge us and think we are a bad parent? Or when our children accomplish something, we pat ourselves on the back and hope that others see what a great job we’ve done raising them.
Children have free will. They are independent beings, not a direct reflection of us. Instead of seeing their growth and development as it relates to you or how others view you, remove yourself from the equation and focus on what is best for them. Try to disassociate your ego as much as possible from the child’s needs, development, and growth. The best we can hope for is that our children will meet the world with principles and aspirations of their own. Be proud of them for who they are, not for how their successes make you look as a parent.
Myth #5: Children need to be a certain age before they can understand spirituality.
Studies have shown that children are born with the natural capacity for spirituality, just like intelligence and emotional intelligence. As parents, we can either diminish or nurture those seeds, but we don’t always see the importance of this. Even parents that are spiritual don’t always view their job as a parent is to help develop their child’s natural spirituality.
Spirituality is their most powerful tool for success and fulfillment. They are never too young to start having conversations like, “How do you feel about this? What feels like the right thing to do? Is that your happy voice or sad voice?”
Think about how you are helping your child become a kind and spiritual human being. That will be the most powerful tool to prepare them for a life where they are thriving, successful, and happy.
Our children don’t come with manuals. We hear so many conflicting messages about parenting that it can be easy to fall into the traps of common falsehoods. The most important focus as a parent is to help our children become spiritual, growing, and kind people. This means instilling them with the confidence that they are connected to a greater power that they can tap into. Our role is not to create obedient children but to continue to be there for them at any change, supporting them in the ways they need, removing our egos from the situation, and fostering their natural spiritual connection.