What do children teach us parents about life?

Many of the blogs and information out there focuses on how we can positively discipline our children to support their growth and development. However, in this blog I wanted to delve into another important topic – what do children teach parents about life? How open are we as parents to stop and really listen and be with our children?

As a working mother of two little girls, I can truly understand how parents’ hands can be very full and rushed from one thing to another. It is like we want to tick as many boxes as possible and make sure that our children are not missing out on anything; when do we ever stop and ask ourselves – how are my children influencing me? How am I changing? How can I sometimes let go and just connect with my children instead of only focusing on what milestone needs to be reached and what tasks need to be accomplished?


When our children are born, we are reborn as parents.

When our children are born, we are reborn as parents’ – I recently encountered this quote, and it made me think of how much growth, changes (even on a biological level), as well as transitions parents go through. When our children are born, we may feel somewhat lost as nobody really has a parenting manual. What I usually like to say to parents is that our children are our manual. If we slow down, connect, and build that relationship with them, then it will get much easier to understand their needs, pleasures, and best soothing techniques for them. Not knowing everything is totally understandable and expected. Hence, instead of being hard on ourselves, let us try to be kinder and more open to being curious learners. Additionally, our children can be our best teachers, they teach us how we can be a better version of ourselves and expand our strengths, while sometimes also shifting our view of the world. Our children may be growing rapidly, but so are we! Especially when we are able to reflect on our parenting approach and on what sort of parent we wish to be for our children.


Hard moments as parents can become teachable moments for our children.

What would we like our children to learn about feelings and coping skills? We are the best role models for our children, and they learn through how we communicate, behave, and cope. Being a parent is indeed a big responsibility. As a psychologist and family therapist, I too sometimes experience the mum guilt of not always responding in the most nurturing way. I try to keep in mind that worrying that I am not being a good enough mother may be evidence of how much I care and how much I want to be a better mother and person for my girls! I am learning to listen to my mum guilt, hold it, and process it. I also remember that how we feel as parents may not always be how things truly are in context. Indeed, when I regulate myself and calm down, I too can see the bigger picture and me giving my all to be a good enough parent to my two little girls. It is important that every one of use finds a healthy coping mechanism, for me this includes talking to my husband and circuit training. When my body and my heart are emotionally regulated, I am in a much more open and containing position for my children. I am learning, as we are all always growing, to choose where best to invest my energy, in what truly matters most. As a parent, I am continuously reflecting on teachable moments and trying to learn from them.


My daughters have challenged me to :

– Slow down

I consider myself to be hardworking and a perfectionist. Like everything else, this comes with its advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is that sometimes I see my children as slowing me down and not letting me finish certain tasks as efficiently as I used to be. What I am realising more each day is that it is completely fine to slow down, and it can actually be a helpful thing to do! My daughters are able to show me the world through their eyes- all that wonder and excitement. The joy and ambition! Those are the feelings I would like to nurture in my girls rather than reduce! For instance, in our walks at the park, my girls stop me to slow down, look at the grass, smell the flowers, appreciate the different colours and just be. Looking into their eyes beaming with happiness is surely a great motivator and reinforcer for me to continue slowing down. My daughters are a catalyst, which is helping me to be more mindful and appreciative of living in the moment. Everyday life is meaningful and can be an opportunity of connecting as well as joining in our children’s excitement and awe.


– Connect

Those who know me know that I am not exactly the most extroverted person out there! I appreciate that I am more of an introvert and more sensitive, as I believe every character trait can be beautiful in its own way. Yet, I feel that through becoming a mother, my girls challenged me to become more open and to make more of an effort to connect with others. Connecting with other people can have many advantages, including that of showing my children certain social skills and caring curiosity to understand the journey of other people. For instance, having lived for a year in London last year helped me and my girls to experience different cultures and connect with so many wonderful people, who became great friends. I believe that this helped both me and my girls to grow. Hence, our children may help us to get out of our comfort zone, see the world in a different light and grow.


– Regulate my feelings

I think this is a lifelong journey for me (or most of us? 😊 )! In my friendships and work with parents, I frequently hear parents say that their children know which buttons to press and continue pressing. I think parents, including myself, need an overflowing supply of energy and patience to parent in the best possible way everyday. We all make mistakes. We are not perfect parents. I remind myself that being good enough and offering an apology as well as repair helps me to maintain a positive and a secure enough relationship with my girls. During a meltdown, I am firstly continuously working on what can help me calm down and self-regulate, as I am aware that parenting from a state of distress will only make the situation more chaotic and harmful. Thus, I am working on slowing down, breathing in and out, counting till ten, moving into another room if needs be (knowing my children are in a safe space) and regulating my emotions. Once I am regulated, I can then regulate my children. I keep in mind that my girls are not giving me a hard time, they are having a hard time. Looking into our children’s eyes during a meltdown may help us to come closer and understanding the true distress and emotional dysregulation they may be experiencing. I keep in mind, as much as possible, that our children’s brain is still under construction and they are neurologically unable to regulate themselves effectively, for now, without our consistent nurturing and positive coping skills. Therefore, in those meltdowns, I am working hard to find my deep empathy for what emotions my girls may be going through. I am their mother, and it is my responsibility to do so.  A little more empathy and a little more kindness can go a long way, for both parents and children. I also try to keep in mind a famous quote by a renowned writer, Peggy O’Mara, ‘The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice’. So, let us help them internalise a positive and loving voice to help them be strong and successful.

Additionally, being a mother, has helped me to understand more the concept of being a reflective parentwhat are my children reminding me of? How was I parented as a child when I felt distressed? What were my needs as a child? When were these met or unmet? How can I grow and be a better parent? As parents, we all have our own stories; it is crucial that we process these stories and become our own author. We are all different plants, with different needs and uniqueness. Let us water and nourish our needs and be our children’s containers as well as vitamins. Listening to ourselves, our children and taking care of our relationships, will help us to continue growing like plants; our roots are connected, and we can all grow in different ways in the right context!

So, yes, as parents we probably will not always get it right the first time or on every occasion. However, by letting ourselves be taught by our children, we can grow into better humans. I would like to end this blog by saying thank you, a thank you to my girls and all the children out there, who are all being excellent teachers in their own unique way. Know that you are loved and that you are already leaving a special mark in this world!



Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist

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