Yesterday I dipped into 'self-compassion' as being something I would need in order to actually tolerate "imperfection" in my life. This is true for all things, including (as is the purpose of this blog) parenting! Whether that's imperfection in our way of being a parent or imperfection in our children's development or functioning in the moment, acceptance of imperfection in life begins with self-compassion.
So what is "self-compassion"? If you look into the work of Dr. Kristin Neff, you'll find the simple and most apt definition: it's the kindness and care that we would give to a dear friend...except we give it to ourselves.
When we practice being kind and caring to ourselves, we are able to be kind and caring (in the way we'd ideally see ourselves being) towards others - all others....including our children.
When I think about the times I have berated myself (out loud or more likely just in my own head for something that didn't go right), I know I have been much more likely to snap at my child over something minor. Goodness knows, if I have to get something right, so does she! And yet, it is so not the way I want to be as a parent.
Think about the times you may have said something like, "What is wrong with you?" to your child. You probably weren't in a self-compassionate place before you said that.
You see, kindness to others begins with you being kind to yourself. When you practice being kind to yourself, you can be kind to anyone else. You'll also get better at recognizing when someone is not being kind to you and learn to set crucial boundaries to maintain healthy relationships. So to improve your skills as a parent...start by being kind, gentle and caring with yourself. And when you're kind and gentle with yourself, you can use that grounded place to be kind, gentle and empathetic with others in your life - including your children.
NOTE: Dr. Kristin Neff's website has some great resources for you to learn more! Check them out!