There are books and blogs galore on how to improve our parenting. Turn off the TV. Be present. Eat dinner together. Listen. The list of tips is endless. While each piece of advice may help transform your relationship with your child, there is one thing, one line of thinking, that every parent needs in order to be successful.
Now I am not talking about becoming a martyr for your children or giving up on your own hopes and dreams. Rather, I am talking about living life in a selfless manner, putting others before you willingly instead of out of a feeling of obligation or sacrifice. It is all in making the choice to be truly selfless without asking for anything in return.
Selflessness leads us down paths we could have never dreamed. Only down these paths can we find true joy and exude it to those around us. By being a selfless parent, we make the conscious choice to put our children and their needs ahead of ours at all times.
This does not mean acting as a doormat or removing all personal boundaries, but by having strong convictions and boundaries we can truly remove ourselves in the act of giving.
Don’t look at the carpools and meal planning and constant laundry as chores and actions that get in the way of living your own life. Instead, recognize that they are the fruits of your life. These are the pieces that can remind you of the amazing and unconditional love you have for your children. Recognizing that heap of laundry in the corner or gazing upon the disaster zone of toys in the living room are glorious reminders of the children we love so deeply.
When we look at all that we do as burdens caused because we have children, then they will always feel grueling. We begin to martyr ourselves and wonder “what’s in it for me?” With each day that passes, the tasks only make us more and more bitter as we focus on all the things we could be doing for ourselves if we didn’t have to do things for our children.
This bitterness strains the parent-child relationship more than any other line of thinking could. Our children are now the enemy. An inconvenience, rather than a joy.
But when we stop and look at all we are able to do for our children as acts of love and charity toward someone who so beautifully deserves our grace, then these chores no longer make us bitter but instead transform into joys and gratitude. Realizing that every meal we cook or every late night spent comforting our child is the perfect opportunity to selflessly give ourselves up for someone who deserves every piece of us fuels our own love and joy, exuding it at all times for our children to experience.
Feeling unconditionally loved and seeing the willing selflessness of their parents teaches children that doing the best we can for those who love us and who we love at all times, without expecting anything in return is what brings about true joy in our lives.
By living each moment selflessly for our children, the bitterness fades, the relationships strengthen and happiness and love encompass the home. And that is how you can become the truly amazing parent you long to be in all that you do.