The ability to take feedback and learn new things is vital to continual self-development.
I suppose this is not a revolutionary statement. It is something that that should seem obvious to us, and yet it often is not.
I believe this relates to parenting more than almost any other area of life.
The reason I mention this is that in my observation parenting seems to be the place people are least willing to hear new ideas and take in feedback.
Defensiveness is understandable – because it hurts!
The problem is it makes it very difficult to give a new idea genuine, objective analysis. When we do, we take the chance that the new way may make more sense than what we have been doing. This can be a very difficult thing to face.
I have experienced this many times over the course of my 18+ year career as a father. And it hurts every time. The reason it hurts is because we have to face in those moments that we have been doing something that has been less harming our children. Or at the very least is less than optimal.
Less than optimal is really is just a kind way of saying we have been harming kids!
And few people really want to admit that to themselves.
We do not want to be labeled as bad parents. And the defensiveness we feel does not actually come from other people labeling us, but from our selves. It is important that making mistakes does not make one a bad parent. Refusing to improve perhaps does?
Identify Yourself as an Evolving Parent
If you make a mistake as a parent and learn from it then you are an evolving parent. Being an evolving parent is a wonderful thing because it means you are consciously choosing to become better today than you were yesterday, and better tomorrow than you are today.
This is a great gift that you give your children, perhaps the greatest gift. It is also a gift you give the world because the way you bring up your children literally changes the future of the planet.
Of course it is also a gift you give to yourself.
The process of continual growth can only create more joy, peace and fulfillment in your life and the lives of those around you.
The way I have handled this particular issue is that early on in my parenting career, in fact even before I had a kid, I just decided to recognize that I was always going to be a bad parent.
I labelled myself as such so that I can resist the label when the opportunity to learn new things would arise. Because learning new things, as I mentioned, automatically mean the old was damaging. The new is less damaging and therefore more desirable.
Feel the Pain, Embrace the Pain, Love Yourself Through the Pain
I have seen many ways over the years that I have damaged my child and every time I think of them, it hurts. I feel a pain in my gut when I review the mistakes I have made. Sometimes the memory of those mistakes hurt me so much I literally want to ram my head through a wall!
And yet I do not allow that pain to make me avoid new learning.
I do not let it make me avoid embracing a new and better idea when one comes along.
In fact the only thing that seems to make that pain bearable
is the fact that I know I am always changing, learning and growing as a parent.
Recently I have had a couple of parenting conversations with good friends. I have disagreed with much of their perspective. I think much of what I shared with them they have disagreed with as well.
Evaluate New And Different Ideas Objectively
And yet every single item that they put forth in the discussion I evaluated carefully, thought about the implications and the philosophy behind them. I looked deeply into each example they gave to see if there was anything that could be of benefit to me so that I could learn and grow from it.
This is such a valuable thing to do
because even when I resist an idea
there might be a kernel truth for me in it.
So I recommend but next time you feel like resisting some parenting advice
take a deep breath,
take a step back from your emotions
and allow the advice to come into your mind and heart.
From there you can evaluate it and decide to embrace or reject it.
This will then be a conscious decision and not a reaction.
Staying Open Isn’t Easy
This will mean resisting the phrase
“Don’t tell me how to parent”
This will mean resisting impulse to say
“Don’t tell me what to do.”
And this will also mean resisting your own inner judgement of feeling like you are a bad parent when you recognize a mistake. This is important to your own progress.
Instead allow this different idea into your conscience
and spend some time evaluating it objectively.
See if it makes sense to you
and if it can improve the way you parent.
This will always be difficult.
It will always hurt.
My suggestion is to embrace this pain willingly,
To open yourself to it in the recognition
that this pain leads to growth.
This growth is perhaps the most vital growth you can experience
because it directly affects the future of your child.
Be Deeply Honest And Profoundly Kind With Yourself
There is a yin-yang combination of qualities required here.
On the one hand, accepting and loving yourself as you are for who you are.
Recognizing that you are doing the best you can in this moment
and have a desire to do even better in the next
On the other hand, having a continuous recognition that you can always improve on what you are doing. This means you will stay open all the time and be ready to receive new information when it comes your way.
The combination of these two things
honesty and kindness
will produce a wonderful, open and evolving condition in your consciousness.
It is interesting this relates to the blog I wrote recently on friendship.
Real friends are honest and kind to each other.
I suppose I am suggesting that you to be your own best friend.
Would you like to be your own best friend?