Like weddings, parenting has become big business — filled with experts, baby trainers, books, blogs, articles and opinions flooding the market. In many ways, this is amazing. Parents have access to different perspectives, ideas and resources like never before. On the other hand, all this information has created a lot of self-doubt and fear. Parents want what is best for their children, so it is easy to worry that your decisions will fall short, or cause harm. As a coach, I work to clear the clutter in the parent’s mind so they can identify and listen to their own intuition. It’s truly THE most powerful tool you have as a parent.
When you tap into your innate wisdom as mothers and fathers, you’re better equipped to navigate the complex waters of information overload and find suitable ground to land. When you trust and value your own judgment, you inspire your children to trust and value theirs. This may not feel so critical when your kids are small (they naturally trust themselves!), but by the time they are teenagers, you will be glad they have confidence in their own voice and not blindly follow the direction of others.
Just listen to the news! Fear and self-doubt permeate our culture, especially when it comes to parenting; here are just a few scenarios that come to mind:
• Your reactions, responses and choices are motivated by a concern for what other people think of you, your child or your parenting.
• You worry that you’ll offend family, friends or even strangers, so you go along with another way of parenting that you don’t necessarily agree with.
• When faced with a difference of opinion, you easily second-guess your judgment.
• You ignore your gut instinct about your child because you think your pediatrician, teacher or child professional will know better.
• Intuition is not rooted in research, facts or reason, and therefore of no real value.
As a parent, I have faced all of these and then some. I am no stranger to insecurity and I have definitely felt vulnerable in identifying and trusting my vision as a parent. This is simply part of the road we are all on. But what I have learned, and feel passionate about sharing with you, is that trusting my gut is THE most powerful tool I have used as a parent.
When I listen to my intuition and forget about what I “should” do, or what everyone else around me is doing, I feel connected to myself, my child and the vision I have as a family. I respond better to my child, my daughter responds better to me, and there is a flow and ease that otherwise would not be there.
However, Intuition may not be enough for bringing up a child in our modern society. More importantly, how do you know what is intuitive and what is learned and habitual? Not without inquiring will you get clear on the difference. Just because something seems right and familiar, or the way “everyone” does it, does not make it intuitive.
Here are three quick tips on how to identify and trust your intuition:
1. Listen to your body. Social conditioning teaches us to be logical and “use our heads.” When you only use your head, your experience of yourself and the world is limited. You miss out on the vital information the rest of your body, heart and soul is giving you. Quite literally, listen to your gut. Does the thought of “it” make you feel physically off? If your body tells you it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not right.
2. Notice the negative voices in your head. Each of us has our very own special saboteur. The saboteur is the voice in your head that says, “Who am I to question the expert?,” “Everyone will think I’m a bad parent,” or “Her kids behave better, so she must be right.” Notice how the inner critic drives the choices and decisions you make.
When you learn to recognize your own voice from that of the saboteur you can start to listen and trust yourself.
3. Identify your held beliefs and fears. We each carry a set of beliefs and fears that we live by. Some you hold consciously, while others are mainly unconscious. Some beliefs and fears that you develop limit your ability to trust your intuition. Learning to notice a limiting belief allows you to become conscious of it, and then change it. You, rather than the fear, make the choices that are right for you and your family.
Many parents already know what they want for their children, for their family and for themselves but struggle to manifest it. Decisions are often shaped by what they think they “should” do, instead of what they really want to do. When we explore our own deeper motivations we can make informed decisions and are less likely to parent from a place of fear and self-doubt. Learning to trust your intuition can be the difference between struggle and ease in your day-to-day parenting experience.