Monday Notes: Parenting from the Heart

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 ❤

71 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Parenting from the Heart

  1. Aww this is lovely and its nice how you listen to you children for being the unique individuals that the are. I love the concept of parenting from the heart and I try to do this with my own children recognising and listening to their uniqueness to support them to learn and grow as individuals. Thank you for your blog, I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You apparently described the blog and parenting from the heart. That’s a beautiful bonding you have with your children. They are blessed to have you as a mother, who knows exactly the needs of her child.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Morher’s Day! I love the concept of parenting from the heart ❤ I have learned so much from my daughters and are still learning as a parent even though one of them is an adult, but they both have strong and caring personalities and yet they are also so different. For me parenting from the heart is to love them both unconditionally.

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  4. Sheesh, imho it’s really strange that the teacher didn’t introduce you to the class. If I was a teacher, all the visitors to my classroom would receive a special welcome that fit correctly with the milieu of the class environment. Because how can an environment be one of inclusivity if you sort of gloss over someone’s very presence? But I’ve never worked in education, so maybe this is just naïve of me and I’m making too much of a small thing.

    As for “parenting from the heart”, I LOVE the idea behind it and agree 100% with your thoughts, bedrock there. But I’m not sure if I really care for the term itself, exactly. if feels like there must be something better. “Parenting from the heart” sounds too much like an empty platitude. I have to be careful to not rely on my heart. Because what if what’s in my heart isn’t the best thing for my kids? Lately I’ve been questioning my instincts and parental fitness on a regular basis. I love my children like crazy but what’s in my heart might not really be what they need. For me, a guiding principle in my parenting, especially the older my kids get, is accountability and honesty. It’s a thing we emphasize in our family, for all of us. Not just for our boys. But for their mother and myself. Owning up very frankly to the mistakes we make. it’s been a major challenge for me lately, balancing the monumental faith that my children still have in me with being honest about when I’ve messed up. They don’t know all the chinks in my armor and sometimes I have to fight the urge to gloss over my mistakes (and let them just figure maybe dad knows best). Well gosh, I’d love to get more of your thoughts on THAT. It’d make a great essay if you havne’t already ever written in that vein.

    Happy mother’s day, Dr. K. And thanks again for sharing the story about your daughter. I’m intrigued about the part where you mention one of her qualities being a certain eccentricity. If I may be so presumptuous to ask, what’s an example of her eccentricity? Because I think my youngest is genuinely a little eccentric, especially compared to my oldest. But I’ve wondered how it will play out as he gets older and wiser in the ways of the world. Is what seems like eccentricity now just the silliness and unsullied honesty of youth? I have an adult friend I much revere who is unequivocally an eccentric person, I’ve resorted to privately describing her that way to others, as a bit of warning (because her honesty can rub people the wrong way). But sometimes I feel super guilty about doing that. Because what is eccentricity, really? You know it when you see it, kind of deal? Well sorry again for this long comment, it seems very ridiculous of me and this is my second warning to myself, I’ll cut it out. But much props to an interesting essay, here!
    -Jason

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    1. Hey Jason! You’re not being naive. As a teacher educator and a human being, I think it was rude of her not to have introduced me to the class, especially because, yeah…who is this random person standing here reading a book lol But as someone else mentioned, maybe she was having a day…so I’ll give her that.

      I hear what you’re saying, but somehow, I think we’re saying the same thing, maybe? If you’re emphasizing honesty and accountability and modeling honesty and accountability, then aren’t you parenting from your heart? I’m really asking myself this question as I type it. I’m also wondering if you parent your children the same or differently, and if it’s differently, then I think that’s another way to parent from your heart…like to really see them as people first.

      LOL you do not have to apologize for length, ever. I’m happy to read and reply. So, “the baby” once got her hair dyed purple, and because the stylist didn’t know what she was doing (I think), it faded to yellow, then green, then some other funky color. Instead of worrying about it, she just rocked her multicolored hair. I think most teens would’ve been nervous to do that, but she seemed to be like who cares…it’s just hair. She also thinks outside of the box in a lot of ways, but I don’t have a clear example of this right now.

      I think the world is a bit more forgiving of eccentric people nowadays. I chalk that up to the current generation (Z) who seem to be more understanding and tolerant.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right, we really are saying the same thing. Sometimes I process things in a very roundabout, off-puttingly tortured manner. Hope you’re getting your week started off in a good way. Best wishes, Jason

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you. I think because I used to be a teacher, I was also had some expectations, so I was thrown a bit. She literally was like “Okay, kids! Everyone sit quietly” lol But you’re probably right about her day.

      This is one of those hindsight situations.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi KE,
    You are such an awesome mother! I am not a parent, but I can imagine how difficult it is to guide without being controlling; and without becoming our parents.
    My mom never had time to go to any of school functions, I understood it, but was always secretly envious of all the other kids that had their moms there.
    Blessings to you! ♥♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you ❤ It is so much easier in the moment to just be like "do as I say…because" lol but in the long run, I think it can be more detrimental for some children.

      It's funny what we remember from childhood and what can affect us. Receiving your blessings and sending some right back your way!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a fabulous post, Kathy. I had 3 very different children and knew they were like a 3 circle Venn Diagram with only a little overlap. It’s an interesting thing to see them now as adults, one parenting my beautiful granddaughter and they all still have their own needs for mom. 💕 What a wonderful gift to give them what they need and to honor their uniqueness.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Laura! It took me a minute to come into this understanding, but I’m glad I did. Observing your daughter in a new role must be an interesting (rewarding?) experience…I can’t think of the appropriate word.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very rewarding! 🥰 The Venn Diagram example is something I use all the time in teaching as a tool to frame if 2 or 3 things are more alike or more different from the other. That’s the starting point. From there, we fill in the circle.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. As I’ve transitioned from the authoritarian parenting model traditional in my family to the heart-centered authoritative model I prefer to use I’ve had a lot of interior doubts, and criticism from my parents and sibling. Thank you for your wonderful encouraging post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so welcome. I was raised by authoritarian parents/grandparents, and it was no bueno for me lol I’m happy to affirm this new way of thinking for you. We need all the support we can get 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, for me it was devastating when my thoughts and feelings were not taken into account as a child. I have read a lot of books to transform my parenting into a more compassionate model. Listening to a child is not the same as giving them all the power. It is arming them to stay intact when the world pressures them to act against their thoughts, feelings and boundaries; empowering them. Great to see you back online in May!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. 💕 I’ll definitely tell my mom to read this! and ma’am when you were not here, you missed some of our greatest posts which I’m proud of! Please go read them, like and comment on them too..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope she receives the message 😉

      Oh no! WordPress has been acting really weird for me. I was following you all and I thought I read one thing, but that was it. I’ll see what I missed.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As a soon-to-be-mother this is such a refreshing take to read on parenting. Your children are lucky to have a mother who is so self-aware and open-minded!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for saying that ❤ Congratulations to you! I think the biggest takeaway for mothering/parenting is to do it however you want to and according to what's best for YOUR child…like really.

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  10. Well said. One of the things that I have come to appreciate as an adult is how my siblings and I (I’m one of four) are pretty close with our parents, and yet each have a different kind of relationship with them because each of us is totally different and our parents recognized that. I give my parents a lot of credit for that.

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  11. Such a beautiful post, Katherin. I’m visiting now with my daughter, whom I haven’t seen in person for 7 months. Everything has been wonderful except today we had a bit of a disagreement over her getting a vaccine (I am disappointed that she is waiting.) Your words gave me a softer perspective and I did find a moment to speak my peace. That being said, I have no choice but to honor her decision and find another way to look at this. I needed this.
    And wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day also.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Judy, and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to you, too! I’m happy you were able to visit your daughter…I know this time has been challenging for you, so I’m truly pleased to see this happened.

      I’m glad you shared this example, too. I mean…at some point, we have to recognize (and respect) that our children are people with their own minds (no matter their age).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Katherin! Somehow feel that her choice affects others and I am trying not to exert judgment. But our discussion was respectful and I’m proud of that. I just hate conflict, but I’m glad I could express my feelings and then let it go. You are absolutely right!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Great parenting advice. No two children are the same. Parenting from the heart means knowing each of your children’s uniqueness, listening, and supporting so that they can evolve to a masterpiece and not a counterfeit.

    “People who learn it’s okay to make a so-called mistake when they’re younger, grow to be adults who live fearless lives.” – K. E. Garland
    Love it. Parked here to be used someday soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Would be wonderful if all parents could see it that way – from the heart, or, at least try to see 🙂 bcz often parents want us to be “better/smarter” than the neighbors kid next door… & from there* comes mistakes & expectations & enormous push…

    Great post!! ☀️👌

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  14. Parenting from the heart means listening to what your child is saying, really listening. It means accepting your child for who they are, not who you want them to be. It means setting boundaries and expectations about behavior/values (don’t lie, don’t cheat, etc) but not about what their particular passion should be. Forgiving them when they screw up, but know they are accountable for their actions, and actions have consequences. Well, that’s what I think anyway

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  15. Kathy, a lovely introduction to your post and how sweet of your daughter wanting you to have mentioned that you were her mother. I found with my son that when he was younger he was very proud to have me in school, helping with the readers, driving to sport events etc. He and his friends would flock around me, chatting away. Once a bit older I was lucky to get a little wave of the hand … bless!

    Yes! A wholehearted Yes to your ‘I see you and I trust you to create your own path’ approach to raising children and to ‘parenting from the heart’. I know no other way, was raised the same and feel this is the only way! Not always easy but I think children become confident adults, independent and happy to make their own choices!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Annika! lol at “wave of the hand.” I know it well.

      It’s very cool you were raised that way…I agree that it must make for confident and independent adults 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I remember when my dad came to class. I think that I was in the 4th grade at the time. My dad was a printer and brought in paper for the school. My teacher announced that my dad had donated all of this paper and I couldn’t have smiled wider.

    Liked by 3 people

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