Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Parents: Let your light shine!

Once, I visited a friend's cottage that had an annoying electrical problem.  When you turned certain light switches on in the house, other lights would dim.  Something wasn't working quite right, and I found it annoying and dysfunctional.

On another trip, I stayed in a lovely hotel that had the tradition of lighting the foyer each evening with a hallway of large lanterns.  As the candle lighting concierge made his way through the lobby, it was transformed into a scene of exceptional beauty.

These two scenes parallel the parenting decisions many of us make.  Let me explain.  In the first example, the room that you needed light in was bright enough, but the only way it got the light was from taking the power from the other rooms.  Some parents give all of their time and energy to their kids, and forget that it is dysfunctional to sacrifice all of your inner glow on behalf of your children.

Yet it is easy to fall into this trap.  If your goal is to be a great and wonderful and loving parent above all else and you lose yourself in the process, ironically you are failing.  Why?  Because your children won't respect you and won't even know who you really are, because you are focusing all  your attention on them.  You should be the example of what you want them to grow up to become.  And if you constantly sacrifice your needs on behalf of your children, you are teaching them that you are not worthy of having attention and focus placed on you.  If you lose your inner glow because you are giving it all to your children, you are like the cottage.  And the cottage was not functioning properly and was somewhat annoying.

The goal should be to find and maintain your inner glow as you pass it along to your children.  Your children should know what your passions are.  They should understand that you have interests that are outside of their existence, that you have accomplished things in your life that they were not even a part of, and that you deserve time each week to take care of some of your needs and wants.  If it is all about them, all the time, you are short changing yourself.

So how do you get your glow back?  It is very hard to do with young children underfoot but be creative.  Hire a sitter for a few hours each week or swap your kids with a friend, or call grandma or grandpa and make arrangements for you to have some time.  Start a journal that has personal goals in it.  Spend some time reflecting on what makes you happy and how you can get more of these things into your life.  Make a vision board or collage or pinterest board of your short term and long term dreams and ambitions.  Just by doing some self reflection, you will be lighting the spark that will help you begin to glow again and spread that glow to others around you, including your children.  You deserve this!  Now go and get it, by making some changes.  It can start today.

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