Welcome to part 3 of this “Parenting Book Club” blog on the book “Parenting Well in a Media Age” by Gloria DeGaetano. This week we are looking at Chapter 3 – Reclaiming our Parenting Identity.
To parent well, we need a sound “inner gauge” to choice-making to keep us on track and help us and our children thrive in this exciting but challenging world. This inner gauge needs to be reflective of many things as it helps contribute to our parenting identity: who we are, what we stand for, our intentions, what we believe in and trust in influencing the choices we make.
Regarding the Parenting Identity of today’s parents, the author goes as far as saying that:
“The *unsanity of parenting in an industry-generated culture has ushered in a parental identity crisis of major proportions”
*“Unsane”: Somewhere between sane and insane ie. we know it is not sane but it is not yet to the extent of being insane.
It is quite clear that DeGaetano believes that a strong parenting identity is paramount to parenting with success and making sure that your children follow your messages over the media/industry-generated ones. They need to know WHO you are and WHAT you stand for and represent.
Why is a clear and well-defined parenting identity important?
In this chapter, Gloria DeGaetano gives these important reasons:
- It helps us keep a more objective distance from media/industry-generated influences
- It strengthens the parental role of influencing the family and culture
- It slows us down to the speed of life and keeps us out of accelerated over-drive
- It helps our children consider carefully who they wish to become
- It keeps our priorities straight
- It keeps our authority intact
- It helps us care less and less “what other people think, say or do”
- It allows a sense of creative freedom in our parenting
- It helps keep us more present and available for our children
- It keeps us connected with our parenting priorities
- It allows us to be better equipped to meet our children’s needs
- It creates a feeling of safety and security for our children
- It brings us more energy, aliveness and connectedness to life
DeGaetano discusses that the fundamental gift that reclaiming our parenting identity gives us is “ALIVENESS” and it is this aliveness that strengthens inner qualities. She goes on to outline several important inner qualities:
- Constancy and Resolve
A stable core identity provides us constancy when the environment around us changes. It means that we can dedicate ourselves to what truly matters. It allows us to make our own choices based on what we think is best for our kids, not pawns in a corporate chess game. When your children know that you cannot be moved from your chosen, value based position, they decrease resisting. Our children NEED us to be clear about what we stand for. When we set clear boundaries and strive to be consistent with them, our children learn to respect us. Without respect, they won’t listen and that respect comes from our expectations of them for living within the boundaries we set.
- Self-Trust and Confidence
As parents we often feel that we need information in order to be good parents but what we actually need is the willingness to grow and create our own answers and as much as we need some information for this, it is not the only thing we need. Our parenting voice, inner voice, intuition is a key component to that growing. It takes courage to make significant changes especially when it might disrupt members of the family or it means going against the tide.
“As we courageously act from our own parenting voice and our authentic power we demonstrate appropriate authority in relationship to our children”
- Non-Conformity and Integrity
As parents, we birth the leaders of the future which will to a large degree determine what that future will look like. If your parenting identity tells you that it is necessary to not conform to media/industry-generated influences and you manage to not conform, you are maintaining your integrity. Living in our integrity isn’t easy and is an ideal we all strive for and living today in such a media/industry-generated culture certainly gives us many opportunities to practice it.
DeGaetano concludes the chapter by providing a guide to keeping you focused on parenting from a clear identity:
- Participate in life with your child
- Keep in touch with your deep parental love
- Strive to remain centered and consistent, especially when under stress
- Affirm your parental right to set firm boundaries
- Trust your deep knowing, Act with confidence!
- Dare to be different.
- Embrace non-conformity
- Take time to clarify your values and make conscious decisions based on your integrity
- Each day try to focus on relationship, doing something that makes you feel alive, a dream, being creative, commit to something courageous that’s in the best interest of your children and participate as a contributor
“As parents, we are not so much in control of how our children turn out, as we are in control of the environment in which they grow. As “Master Gardeners” parents provide all the components for children to flourish”. Gloria DeGaetano
In the next few chapters, I will be looking at what those components or core needs are (a hint is in the last bullet above!). Next week, I will start with how to create a loving parent-child bond:
“All relationships need constant care, just like a plant, they too will wilt and wither without care”
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