Parenting From the Inside Out

Let’s face it – being a parent is emotionally difficult. It’s a relatively unplanned roller coaster of highs and lows, shifts and turns, creating cries of joy and fear. Whether you are a parent of a little child trying to sleep through the night or take his first step; or a parent of a teenager breaking curfew or driving your car for the first time alone, being a parent is, may I say again, emotionally difficult. From infancy to childhood and adolescence to young adulthood, the development of your child unfolds before you. Issues from one developmental stage merges with the next. Meanwhile, we perform a balancing act of “trying to do the right thing for our children.” Let’s also face it – we live in perilous times! Being a citizen of the world, like parenting, carries with it an immense responsibility. In fact, how we parent may inextricably be linked to how we conduct ourselves as citizens. I can only imagine a nurturing parent would also be a nurturing citizen. Being a parent during complicated and perilous times is not new and, therefore, how we function as parents toward our children is critical in their own development and their sense of the world. I refer to this as parenting from the inside out.

Parenting from the inside out means we, as parents, have as much control as is humanly possible to positively affect the psychological world of our children. No matter what is happening in the world around us, parents have the potential to create a secure world within their family boundaries. Parenting from the inside out is comprised of three key factors.

  • KINDNESS and THOUGHTFULNESS-Being a parent requires kindness and thoughtfulness. Deliberate acts of kindness and conscious thoughtfulness teach respect. When the world can be unkind and cruel, thoughtless and indiscriminate from the outside in, a child can still learn to trust within the family boundaries.
  • POSITIVE REGARD and UNDERSTANDING- Being a parent requires positive regard and genuine understanding. Children of all ages make mistakes, go down wrong paths, and create chaos. A parent’s reaction to a child’s transgressions becomes a template for how the child begins to see himself and the world around him. Positive regard and understanding nurtures well-being from the inside out even in the face of injustice.
  • HOLDING ON and LETTING GO- Being a parent is learning the art of holding on and letting go. When our baby is born we embrace her as if we would never let go! We are holding on to dear life and wanting instinctively to protect her from the ills of the world! Yet, if we never let go, we strangle her and keep her from finding her own place in the world. Parenting from the inside out is knowing how to create the balance between holding on and letting go.

Parenting from the inside out is a mindset from which we operate. It is a way of fostering love when the world is bombarding us with obstacles that test our sensibilities. Parenting from the inside out is a stepping stone for your child blanketed with hope.