Balancing Parents is a circus metaphor. It takes incredible courage and stamina to walk on the wire with a pole, or dance at heights, having total confidence on another acrobats’ grip. The art of balance is mastered through the hard work, resilience and confidence. At the beginning, when the acrobat is learning their skills, he is fuelled by the imagination and the beauty of the idea.
To be a parent is about balanced judgments, decisions and actions, being worked out everyday. It is about balancing between contradictory thoughts, needs and emotions. It requires keeping a mental and physical balance, in the face of constant challenges.
Parenting is exciting, beautiful and as heroic as acrobatics. It is also equally exhausting, insane and difficult.
The way we act as parents and thus, relate to our children, is strongly influenced by a culture and society we live in. Western culture has created an image of ‘the good parent of our times’, which is present in media, literature and common knowledge. It speaks through our relatives and friends, midwives and doctors, radio speakers and TV screens. It appears in our smart phones applications and pops up in the newsagent. We are told how to be parents and sometimes we enact it, not even being able to question claims which we don’t agree with.
The first aim of this blog is to offer a space in which parents can reflect and confront the way they relate to this omnipresent voice of parenting wisdom.
Gnothi seauton – know yourself
Many times I have heard diverse parents expressing the same thing about their parenting: ‘I don’t want to parent my children the way my parents did.’
Whereas the intention underlying this statement might be noble, after a while we might find ourselves doing to our children what our parents have done to us. And it would be not a conscious surrender but just the way things turned out…
This is actually just one example of the unconscious leading our actions.
The unconscious takes a significant part in the spectacle of our behaviour and emotions.
We often end up doing things inspired by deeper dynamics of our desires, reasons and feelings, which surface in an unexpected way and usually are difficult to see, understand and influence.
This gets very serious when we become parents and create the emotional atmosphere in which our children live their lives. This why I perceive the ancient commandment – to know yourself (gnothi seauton) – essential to the task of growing in the parenting role. Through understanding our hidden motives and emotions we can liberate ourselves from the slavery of patterns and schematic ways of relating to others. This is the first step to break the generational logic and invent the more adaptive ways of being with our children.
Having said that, I can see the danger of too much ongoing reflection. The child itself and action can be inhibited or lost in the well of self-development of parents.
The second task for the blog is to encourage honest reflection on the emotional and unconscious aspect of the parents-children relations. We keep in mind though that in the centre of all those mental endeavours is a child, and that the main focus is to create an environment of real engagement, allowing the child to fully experience their world, and develop accordingly.
There should be one differentiation made between the acrobat and balancing parent. The acrobat dancing on the wire reached perfection. There is no room for mistakes and the person embodies the ideal of balanced perfection. The parent is not obliged to reach the perfection, nor there is anyone under the sun embodying it. Parents exist to love and to inspire, to provide a safety net and to allow risk taking. Parents are always in the process of balancing.