Is Your Parenting Power Cape On or Off When You Are Parenting?
I hear about all kinds of parenting. Parenting that makes me cringe and parenting that fills me with a big YES. Parents tell me about their parenting after the fact, and in that reflection they are usually aware of the effects of that parenting; the good and cringey.
SO what the heck is parenting really? Parenting is a noun. It is a ‘thing.’ Funny, it feels very verb-ish to me. Especially after doing a long day of parenting, I would be typically exhausted on many levels.
Parenting n. Promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social and intellectual life of a child from infancy to adulthood.
That is no small job description. I don’t know about you but I had no training in parenting other than trial and error. Literally, I can remember saying to myself, “Well, let’s see how this goes.” Sometimes my parenting was yes, cringey, and other times it was good. Truly hit or miss. Just when I would hit a stride in my parenting, my kids would change (which is in their job description by the way) and I would be back to fishing around – hoping to catch my parenting stride again. And get this…each kid required different kinds of parenting. Whoa. NOBODY told me about that when I signed up for the job.
Based on my own experiences and what I have been hearing parents tell me for years, I have developed a theory around a specific place of parenting I hear parents parenting from (or not) and how this can bring out the good and the not-so-good kinds of parenting.
In working with one parent weekly, I began to see a pattern of when each one of those two types of parenting would appear – over and over again. In her reflection of her parenting that week she would offer her parenting stories with her kiddo. She would say, “I was tired and cranky and I knew I should have let it go, but I went in anyway. She blew up and stormed out” or “After a long walk I sat down and I listened to her until she was done and then just held her. When she was ready she let go, looked at me with a little smile and walked out.”
One would think that good and cringey parenting would depend on the youth and the issue at hand, but nope. It is about where that parent is in their parenting power.
Consistently when this parent was parenting through her parent power, her parenting was good and she felt confident. And when she would parent outside of her parenting power, yup, it was cringe-worthy and full of regret.
What is parenting power and when do you know you have it, and when do you know you don’t have it? You are in your parenting power when you are:
- Rested, well fed and hydrated
- Feeling calm, confident and capable (the three C’s of parenting)
- Focused and connected
- Not triggered and feeling kind
- In a good mood, feeling regulated emotionally
- Feeling hormonally balanced
- Optimistic and positive about life in general
- Able to access intuition, or gut-feel
You are not in your parenting power when you are:
- Tired or exhausted, hungry (hangry) or dehydrated
- Feeling anxious, insecure, incapable
- Feeling stressed and overwhelmed
- Triggered and feeling mean/unkind
- Distracted and disconnected
- In a bad mood, feeling emotionally all over the place
- Hormonally wacked out
- Pessimistic and negative about life in general
- Have no access to intuition
I bet you can imagine where most parents do their parenting. You guessed it, when they are not in their parenting power. You can’t be in your parenting power all the time. That isn’t humanly possible as life throws so much at us to push out of balance. But you do have a choice as to when you are going to parent. You get to decide that. And I can assure you that the effects of your parenting are going to be directly connected to where you are in your parenting power.
Parenting power cape on? Go for it. Not enough parenting power? Leave it. Go power-up.
The very first thing to do when presented with a parenting moment by a youth is to take the focus off the youth and the issue and go within. Do a parenting power check. Check your levels.
How are you feeling: Triggered? Hungry? Exhausted? Cranky? If you have 3 or more parenting power drains open, leave it. Just like when you tell your dog to leave something they want, but shouldn’t have. Drop it. For now. You can put a pin in it by saying something like, “Hold on, I have an issue with that. When I am ready, we are going to talk about it.” Then drop it and head to self-care immediately to power-up!
If you are feeling calm, regulated emotionally, well hydrated, and optimistic, lean into your parenting power. If you have 3 or more parenting power plugs in place you have enough power to proceed with parenting. Anything much less than that, go power-up with some self-care before parenting.
The parent we talked about earlier now manages her parenting based on her parenting power levels. She is learning when she has her parenting power cape on and can parent most effectively and when her parenting power is down and she needs to leave it and go into self-care first to power-up. And guess what? Her parenting and her relationship with her evolving youth is improving.
Cringey parenting and good parenting are directly related to your parenting power levels. If you need to, write up a little cheat sheet index card with the bullet point level checks. Before opening your mouth to say anything, pause and pull out your card. Do a parenting power check and then proceed accordingly.