The Evolution of Parenting
As parents, we focus so much of our attention on the evolution of our children. We keep an eye on them as they continue to grow and develop. We monitor their thoughts, bodies, and emotions. We watch as they blossom into their being. Our children keep growing and expanding. As parents, we also go through evolutions. Think about it like this: You aren’t the same parent now as you were when your children were born, or when they were two years old, or even last year. Being a parent is an ever-evolving role, and if you don’t stop and look up once in a while, you could cause resistance with your children.
Just as our children go through developmental stages and require different stimuli to further their expansion, parents need the same in order to provide the right parenting methods at different ages. This becomes important when children start to become autonomous at around 2-3 years old. Once children become self-aware of their power in choice, it’s crucial not to resist it. As parents, we need to support their independence and opinion and change how we support them as they grow older—because it changes with every year they age.
My children have reached double digits and for the most part, they’re fully autonomous. However, the years inching up to this time have been a learning experience for me. And I’m still learning every day. I recently had a parent evolution over my son’s bedtime. My son is 11, in fifth grade, and quickly maturing. He’s always been a good sleeper, loves bedtime, and never resisted when younger. Recently he’s been staying up later, saying he’s not tired. I think I was still on autopilot in regards to his bedtime, and it was stressing me out that he was staying up late. Night after night, I was on him about “bedtime.” Then it hit me—he’s reached another evolution milestone.
He’s not the same little boy who went to sleep at 9 o’clock, and I don’t need to be the same parent whose boy goes to sleep at that time.
As he evolves, I need to show respect for his feelings and avoid unnecessary stress. As I dropped my resistance, my stress went away, and I evolved as a parent.
My bedtime evolution is just one small example of parenting growth. There are many moments we parents feel tense and worried about our children’s changing behavior; sometimes it can make us sad or angry. We’ve all been there. It can get intense during those teenage years. But it’s important to remember in those moments—it’s not personal. It has nothing to do with our abilities as parents. Everything children do is in the interest of their growth and expansion. That’s normal and necessary to thrive in this life. So as they evolve into their independence more and more each year, in different ways, we need to stop and pay attention to what they need from us at each moment to help them continue their expansion. Trying to curb this kind of growth is a recipe for resistant children.
I think the most significant part of parent evolution, at any stage, is trusting that your children know what’s best for them. For many years we’ve been the responsible parent who knew what’s best for them. We knew the right thing to do to keep them happy and safe. But as they grow up and start to learn what makes THEM happy, it may not align with our autopilot thoughts. We can get stuck on a previous milestone. That’s when you need to stop and pay attention. When you feel resistance, pause, and listen. Hear what your child is saying they need and support it safely. Remember, it’s not our job to project what we think is best for them. We need to give ground that lets our children believe in their autonomy, to feel solid in their own decisions. Of course, we are always their soft place to fall. We are always here to offer advice and support when needed.
The evolution of parenting is pretty cool.
It teaches us so many valuable lessons about raising a happy, healthy child. Every milestone helps you better understand and SEE your child for who they are. Every step, sometimes a climb, strengthens your relationship. You’re allowing and accepting their autonomy fuels your child’s quest for expansion. By teaching your child that you trust them to make decisions on their own, and by giving that trust, they will align with their true self. A child’s self-discovery process can be the most beautiful thing a parent can witness—don’t resist it by not evolving alongside your child. Allow their autonomy to be freeing for them and for you.
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