When we think about being leaders, we typically discuss leadership at work and in our careers. Yet we have the opportunity to demonstrate True Leadership in every area of our lives, including one of the most challenging and rewarding: parenting.
Practicing True Leadership makes room for learning, growing, experimenting, and failing along the way. We practice because we are not perfect and never will be perfect, yet we strive to be our personal best in each situation we face. As parents (and as aunts, grandmothers, role models, mentors, and guardians), we have the chance to lead by example in a terrain that is completely unfamiliar.
No one has ever parented your child at his or her age facing that particular situation ever before. No one knows how to do it. Yet you are the one. You are the person who gets to choose how to respond, what attitude to have, what to say, what to do, and how to take the next step. There is no one else in this moment to be a True Leader except you, even if you are full of self-doubt, worry, fear, anger, excitement, or judgment.
Yes, parenting is like Extreme True Leadership Development! It’s likely that there is nothing more important, unpredictable, and emotional that you will ever encounter.
One key metaphor that we are working with in our Parenting From The Heart Leadership Intensive is about emitting energy. In the world today, we are more and more aware of being responsible for our carbon footprint, whether it’s with reusable bags, impactful recycling programs, or riding our bikes to work. Yet as parents, are we aware of the energy we are emitting? Is it toxic, carbon energy that is polluting the relationship? Or is it clean energy that we can breathe in and use to move forward together?
We are not just facilitators for this course! As parents of pre-teen and teenaged young people, we are in the course ourselves, and we are not perfect.
Co-author and coach, Amy Riley shares: I emitted some potent carbon energy just last week. At a Cub Scout dinner/ceremony, I gave my son permission to watch something on the phone with his friends until the ceremony started. The ceremony started and he continued to hold the phone up in front of him. I went over and took the phone from him, giving him the I am not happy look. I asked him to come sit with us. He didn’t want to and he argued with me about disobeying him about the phone. “I wasn’t looking at it. I couldn’t bring it to you because my Scout Leader was talking.” Yet, I explained I saw some of your friends still looking at the phone. So, you didn’t stop the video. The argument continued. He didn’t want to sit with us. I got mad. Why am I here? I picked up my plate of food, said I was leaving and walked out of the room. = carbon energy!
We all have those moments where we are furious, scared, anxious, embarrassed, frustrated, and more. In those moments our first reaction is often to defend, attack, or go silent, the typical fight-flight-freeze phenomenon. This is normal. We are human!
What makes us True Leaders is what we do next. Do we tumble into a downward spiral of toxic energy and reactive exchanges that seem to go nowhere?
Or can we access the tools and practices that True Leaders use in any scenario to ground ourselves and respond in a way that is in line with who we want to be as a parent, in support of the person we are parenting — who is equally as angry, scared, embarrassed, and frustrated!
Some of our favorite techniques that help us parent from the heart are:
Breathe. Taking deep belly breaths resets your system and allows you more access to creative thinking.
Pause. Instead of diving in and saying everything that demands to be said in the moment, walk away, calibrate to your Source Of Inspiration or True Queen, then return to the dialogue.
Be self aware. Remember you are a person in this interaction, even while you are “mom”. Be compassionate with yourself and name the root feelings you are experiencing. Allow yourself those feelings. Tell yourself it’s OK that you have that reaction. Awareness is one of the key muscles to build to influence in situation.
Shift from toxic to positive energy. Once you have given yourself a moment to react, choose the belief, mindset, or feeling that you want to come from when addressing the situation. For example, you could shift, “I’m furious that you lied to me about where you were! I cannot trust you!” to “This scares me. I need a minute to collect myself, then we are going to talk through why you made the choices you made tonight. I know we love each other and want to build trust.”
Create your Parenting Mantra. In our Parenting From The Heart Leadership Intensive, we will lead you through creating a Parenting Mantra that will help you align with who you really want to be as a parent even in the toughest moments.
At Tiara International, we are here as a leadership resource for any area that is important to you.