The greatest gift you can give your children is to enjoy parenting them!
That's the conclusion I've come to after years of studying the best available information on alternative, holistic, and natural parenting — applying it with my own family, and coaching
Are you saying it doesn't matter how I parent, so long as I enjoy it???
I'm saying that enjoying IS how you parent when your parenting is most successful.
Practices that are in harmony with our deeper nature do make a huge difference. I'm a big fan of The Continuum Concept, attachment parenting, and similar approaches. But think about the last time you had an exceptionally "good parenting day"... Weren't you enjoying yourself?
Well, sure... I enjoyed myself because it was a good parenting day!
Or maybe it was a good parenting day because you enjoyed it!
What does the word enjoy really mean? It's something you do, not something done to you. You don't say, "That ice cream enjoyed me!" You say, "I enjoyed it." :)
Someone else can eat the exact same food that you love... or read the same book that changed your life... or hear the same song that inspires you... and not enjoy it at all. Why? Because to enjoy means to create joy.
(And by "joy" I mean any feeling of
The more you enjoy parenting, the more joy you are creating! And since children learn best by example (modeling), you're effectively teaching them how to enjoy life. They're developing the active skill of enjoying, which will serve them for a lifetime.
That sounds wonderful, but sometimes I don't enjoy doing things that my children need me to do. Should I force myself to enjoy these things or just not do them?
There is a third way that doesn't require any coercion or sacrifice. It's called creating joy unconditionally.
You've heard of unconditional love, which means loving regardless of external conditions and behaviors. Well, unconditional joy is like that — it's loving life unconditionally.
And it's a skill that anyone can develop!
Unfortunately, our culture leads us to believe that love and joy are conditional — that other people and circumstances have the power to make us feel one way or another.
But with a little practice, you can learn to create joy for no other reason than your desire to feel good!
(And true unconditional joy is expansive enough to embrace your deepest hurts and darkest shadows. This is not about "putting on a happy face" and denying so-called "negative" emotions.)
Almost like magic, when you learn to enjoy parenting unconditionally, you disengage from the conditional mindset and reverse the apparent order of cause and effect! You no longer feel like a victim of circumstances. Difficult behavior, unsupportive people, and other adverse conditions no longer cause you to suffer.
Rather, when you "put the cart before the horse" and deliberately enjoy parenting despite adverse conditions, the effect is that conditions gradually improve:
- You become more relaxed and creative, easily finding new ways for both you and your kids to have what you want.
- Your children's behavior changes over time as they follow your lead and begin creating their own joy unconditionally.
- Unsupportive people either change or leave, and you begin to attract more supportive and satisfying relationships into your life.
What if my child is upset, hurt, or acting out? Am I supposed to enjoy that?
Only in the sense that you intend to bring joy to the situation. When you can connect with your intrinsic well-being no matter what, you will always be able to help your child find a way back to his or her own well-being.
And when your joy is truly unconditional, there is no pressure on your child to move through the process faster than he or she is able. But it probably will go faster because authentic joy is profoundly attractive — your child will want to be where you are!
Okay... I'm starting to see how it could work, but it seems like it would be hard to enjoy myself with all the problems I face every day.
Believe me, I know what you mean! I learned the hard way that creating joy unconditionally is EASY... once you have the kind of mindset that allows it.
There's the rub: establishing a new mindset while you're immersed in the culture that created the old one. That takes an extraordinary level of desire and commitment to achieve.
Getting out of an old rut and into a "new groove" is a lot easier if you have a supportive environment. It's like learning a new language: you're more likely to succeed if you immerse yourself in an environment where the language is spoken.
So how do I immerse myself in this new way of thinking? How can I learn to enjoy parenting under any conditions?
By looking for opportunities to interact with others who are on the same path.
I created EnjoyParenting.com to attract like-minded parents and make it easy and fun to get immersed in the mindset of unconditionality. And you'll feel at home because everything here is grounded in the principles of natural, holistic parenting.
Currently, the most popular resource here is The Daily Groove mailing list — a brief, practical, inspiring message sent to you every weekday by email. To subscribe, click here — it's FREE!
If you want more personalized support, I offer private coaching sessions by telephone or Skype. Personal coaching is a powerful way to accelerate your progress.
I recommend you begin with The Daily Groove.