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‘Getting there’….don’t kid yourself.

‘Getting there’….don’t kid yourself.

Most of us grew up with parents that seemed god-like when we were small. They always seemed to have an answer for everything and they knew what was best at any given moment.

And as we grew up we learnt about life along the way, and we had experiences where we gradually understood that our parents didn’t know everything. In fact many teenagers go through a phase as their parents like to joke… ‘ask them while they still know everything!’
Out the other side of this, we find ourselves as adults and there are these little people looking up at us with nothing but love and wonder in their eyes….

Power

It’s a place of sobering power that warrants careful management. Yet in a world that seems to spin quicker and quicker, how many of us have the presence of mind to reflect on the big responsibility of how we use our power as parents? How many of us make mistakes along the way because of the pressure of time and money?

It is one of the biggest issues in our society… the misuse and abuse of power and it all starts at home. We hear it all the time from the fathers we work with…’I’m time poor’. When we are bereft of the right amount of time, we eat fast, drive fast and often react rather than respond in situations. We have lost patience and then we unwittingly abuse or misuse our power.

Well meaning and intelligent parents make their biggest mistakes because of this. An error of judgement or simply an unskilful moment is easily forgiven. But what if I know better and still make the same mistakes? ‘Too busy’ is all too often heard as an excuse.

Getting there

How do we use our power when we are time poor? Often it is as a quick-fix to solve the immediate issue standing between us and our goal. How often, when you ask how someone is going, do you hear ‘getting there’? Where is ‘there’? It is doubtful that anyone knows where ‘there’ really is; rather it seems more like a nebulous end to the big modern-day, hard-wired struggle. But the struggle seems to continue, it is seemingly endless. Maybe ‘there’ is the end of the day, perhaps it is the end of the week or even retirement could be the big ‘there’… maybe it is even death if we’re not careful.

When rushing around ‘getting there’, rarely do we put our best foot forwards and often our children and loved ones end up the poorer for our lack of attentiveness.

Little people have vastly different agendas; they move at a different velocity to busy adults. Perhaps it’s one reason why kids love their grandparents so much. They move at a similar speed so can relate to each other easily. Our precious children can feel wrong or hurt when mum or dad gets annoyed or angry just because they get in the way whilst their parents are scurrying about. Busy mums and dads need to pause and be clear as to what is really important, and be sure they use their power with respect and awareness.

Easier said than done!

Power can look many ways and on a good day it can be kind and wise. On a bad day it’s as though some idiot is at the wheel and we are on autopilot. This would be more than acceptable if our good days are 80-90% of the time. Truth is in most families this is far from an accurate number.

Useless Treasures

Some of the lessons our parents taught us will hopefully serve us well, but it is a different world and there are some things we did not get, and some lessons we got that don’t serve us or anyone else. This is the nature of things, this is happening to our kids…. and so on it goes. Our task is to improve on our own experience to the best of our ability, knowing all along that we will inevitably hand on some gold and some ‘useless treasures’. When stressed and rushed it is our useless treasures that come to the fore!

What can we do?

Firstly we need to get clear with our time and priorities. As CEO of The Energy Project, and author of Be Excellent at Anything, Tony Schwartz says…. ‘No is the new Yes’.

Schwartz says that ‘prioritizing requires reflection, reflection takes time, and many of the executives he meets are so busy racing just to keep up they don’t believe they have time to stop and think about much of anything.

Too often — and masochistically — they default to “yes.” Saying yes to requests feels safer, avoids conflict and takes less time than pausing to decide whether or not the request is truly important.

Truth be told, there’s also an adrenaline rush in saying yes. Many of us have become addicted, unwittingly, to the speed of our lives — the adrenalin high of constant busyness.’

We have mistaken activity for productivity.

Schwartz offers ‘Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life’. And you can read and review his suggestions here… .

After hopefully a good priority review, we need to be gentle with ourselves. Nothing will be gained by blaming ourselves for past indiscretions.

Consider moving forward with an ‘even better if’ motto.

Real Power

It is important we cultivate a place inside that will ‘catch ourselves in the act’ and gently nudge us in the direction of authentic power.
Modifying our behaviour is ideal, however the reality is it will be either catching ourselves in the act OR most times we will realise we have made a mistake after the fact, and we then have to make amends.

Saying sorry to your kids is one of the best things you can do. When your kids experience you displaying genuine remorse, and when they see you acknowledging that you got it wrong (and not give yourself a hard time) is to model healthy human behaviour. And it gives them permission to be human and OK with their own mistakes.

This is real power.

Be honest with them. If they understand that you have a problem at work that is troubling you, they will show you one of the most beautiful things on this planet…. the empathy of a child. If you can be real and a bit vulnerable with them, you will be respecting them and they will respond in spades.

As your children get older you can use more detail. The content must match their level of development, both intellectually and emotionally.

‘Power over’ is clearly a display of powerlessness and an old way of controlling the environment. Power to be real takes courage and is the only way forward for raising caring and aware children.

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