We know that being our genuine selves helps us be better parents. Here our dynamic parenting and relationship expert, Dr. Miranda Fernande Walichowski shares how your true authenticity creates the best parenting path possible
WHERE PARENTING STANDS
When Dr. Daniel Kahneman, cognitive psychologist and father of behavioral economics, surveyed working women in the United States, he asked them to rate their enjoyment of various activities in their lives. Out of 15 items, “time with children” ranked 14th, after housework. In the same study, working mothers ranked “intimate relationships” and “socializing outside of work” as the two most enjoyable events.
It would stand to reason that engaging in conversation that has depth and intimacy allows someone to feel understood and accepted for being themselves. It would stand to reason that in socializing with her friends, a mother would feel the freedom to be self-expressive, to be herself. In the same study, they found that fathers seemed to express more positive feelings about parenting. Many fathers are more playful in their parenting. Fathers seem to bring more of their authentic selves into their parenting. Are mothers not themselves when they are parenting?
The study suggests that women feel a sense of inadequacy when it comes to their ability to parent well. Mothers may overthink things. It’s not uncommon that they second-guess themselves. They vacillate with rules and following through on consequences because they are afraid to make mistakes. Mothers are more apt to compare themselves to other mothers and feel that they are not as effective. Some have come to trust the latest parenting information instead of trusting their intuition.
Being your authentic self is not just a nice gesture in sincerity. The quest for authenticity is a visceral pursuit of our hearts. William Shakespeare intertwined his wisdom and life maxims in his plays. One of Shakespeare’s most recognized verses is from Hamlet, spoken ironically by Polonius: “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man…”
Perhaps the quotidian aspects of parenting contribute to a mother losing her sense of self. Perhaps feeling insecure about parenting and seeking to emulate others might contribute to a loss of self. Perhaps, in the quest for perfect parenting, a mother’s true self is subsumed by whom she perceives she needs to be. But it doesn’t need to be this way.
GO AHEAD, BE YOURSELF
Mother’s don’t need an escape from the burden of parenting. It is not perfect parenting that mothers should strive for. To be happier in parenting, mothers just need permission to be themselves. They need permission to give themselves in the most authentic way. At times, this type of authenticity can be a matter of life or death, as it was in the Debakey family.
Houston-based Dr. Michael Ellis DeBakey (1908 – 2008) was an renowned cardiologist, scientist, innovator, and educator. This accomplished doctor saved and will continue to save thousands of lives because of the advances that he created in medicine. He was able to do this because of the authenticity of his parents. DeBakey credited much of his success to his mother, Raheeja Debaghi, for teaching him to sew, crochet, and knit. DeBakey’s mother was simply being herself and giving of her authentic self: her talents, her interests, and her natural contributions.
His father, Shaker Debaghi, also had a strong influence on him because he owned a pharmacy in which the younger DeBakey worked. It was there that he was inspired to become a doctor because of the interactions that he had with the doctors who frequented the pharmacy. His father shared of himself, in his most natural way, in his most natural setting. Had Debakey’s parents expended energy in trying to provide perfect parenting instead of having the simple approach of parenting and loving as their authentic selves the world might not have ever benefited from his greatness.
THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL
What is your greatest gift? You are the unique, best, and original version of yourself. Striving to be someone different from who you are only results in a second-rate version of yourself. Not allowing yourself to be authentic and give of yourself in that way, deprives the world of your true gifts. Nothing happens by coincidence. Who you truly are is who your children truly need. Joan of Arc said, “one life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it. However, to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” That in mind, being your true self will always be the best path possible. Your children, friends, and everyone you influence will be better for it, and you’ll gain so much more enjoyment from your parenting and personal life.