When my youngest daughter, Desi was about nine years old, I volunteered to read How the Grinch Stole Christmas to her third-grade class.
That afternoon, I thought her teacher was going to introduce me. She didn’t. Instead, she pointed toward the chair and asked the students to sit “crisscross applesauce” and listen to me.
I sat. I read. I left.
Desi was a bit miffed.
“How come you didn’t say you were my mom?” she asked later that night.
“So, you wanted me to say, ‘Hi everyone! I’m Desi’s moooom?’” I exaggerated.
“Well, not like that. Maybe just tell them in a regular voice.”
Immediately, I knew what happened. It wasn’t just her teacher’s fault that no one knew who I was. It was mine. My oldest daughter, Kesi would’ve never wanted her friends to know I was her mom coming to read to the class. But Desi was different. She always seemed outwardly proud of me and whoever she saw me as. She wanted people to know I was her mom. I should’ve recognized this.
That’s what I think parenting from the heart, a phrase I read on Talking All that Jaz, means. One way to parent from the heart is to see your children for who they are.
It took a long time for me to get that. Even now, sometimes Desi will stop me and say, “I’m not my sister,” and I have to acknowledge that and readjust my conversation with her.
Parenting from the heart also requires not only recognizing your child has a distinct personality, but also allowing them to be their own person with the type of guidance they need, not the type of general guidance found in parenting books or the type of guidance passed down from your great-great grandmother (who didn’t grow up with cellphones and other distractions). I’d also like to add that you can’t be the parent to your child that you needed. You have to be the parent they need. And that requires seeing them for who they are.
For example, Desi is a highly intelligent, free-spirited, eccentric person. Though she was accepted and primed to leave the nest, she decided not to attend college. Dwight and I understood we shouldn’t force her to go and we shouldn’t put the same expectations on her coming-of-age process that were put on us. It’s a different time period and she’s a different person. Instead, she is free to explore her life and determine who she wants to be as an adult, not who we want her to be. Her sister has a similar freedom, but the process looks different. They both know we love them and they have our full support.
Parenting from the heart can be liberating. In my opinion, it’s a softer approach that frees both the parent and the child from outside influences. There seems to be a deeper connection that feels like I see you and I trust you to create your own path, instead of I made you and you should follow this pre-made journey because I’ve been here longer and know what’s best. The latter seems a bit arrogant.
Finally, parenting from the heart requires strength because watching children go left when maybe it was easier to go right can be scary. But I think it’s worth it. I’m no psychologist, but I suspect that people who learn it’s okay to make a so-called mistake when they’re younger, grow to be adults who live fearless lives. Let me know if you have a citation for that.
What do you think it means to parent from the heart, instead of the ego? Let me know in the comments.
And if you’re in the States, Happy (almost) Mother’s Day! May you always have heart-centered interactions with your mother or child ❤