Parenting With Authenticity by Dr. Marta Adelsman

authentic-parentingParenting With Authenticity

By Dr. Marta Adelsman

I grew up with parents who played roles.  My father wore the commander-in-chief mask, using orders and threats to try to control my sister and me.  My mother played the consoler.  Rarely did they reveal the real person behind the roles.
You probably saw your parents play roles, too, and those roles became the model for what a parent “ought” to be.  Later, if you had children, you slipped easily into the mold of that “ought.”

As perceptive little people, your children know when you play a role. They see right through your inauthenticity.  Since they don’t know how to talk about their perceptions and their feelings, they let you know you’re being inauthentic by misbehaving.  You, their teachers or your friends may label them as “sassy,” “trouble-makers,” or “disobedient.”  They push your buttons and, just when you want them to behave and make you look good, they embarrass you in front of your friends.  Can you tell I’ve been there?

A wise parent will learn from the feedback provided by their children’s misbehavior.  When you can see their acting out as a mirror for your own lack of authenticity, you have taken a big step toward becoming more authentic.
How do you drop the roles you play with your children?  You relate from your humanness.  You let them know your real feelings, thoughts, doubts, joys and insecurities.  You become an authentic teacher, modeling for your children how to tell the truth.

One day my oldest son, Aaron (then 12), became irate that I had allowed his youngest brother, Paul, to get away with something.  “Mom!” he protested, shaking with anger and red in the face. “If that were me, I would have gotten into deep trouble!”

I recalled how, before I transformed my parenting, I had sometimes treated him harshly.  I responded authentically: “You’re right,” I confessed.  “You’re our firstborn, which means we’ve never done this parenting thing before, and we’re learning on you.  I know I don’t always get it right.  I’m sorry you got caught in my lack of experience, and I’m really sorry I treated you harshly before I knew better.”

I saw Aaron’s anger drain out of him. My confession of imperfection made me more human in his eyes, and he could identify.  Other authentic confessions might sound like:  “I feel terrible when I yell at you.”  “I don’t know the answer to your question.” “Sometimes the choices you make scare me.”

“If I talk like that, my child will never respect me!” you say.  On the contrary, if you express your emotions and tell on your insecurities, you give your child permission to do the same and he will respect you more.  Be willing to look deeply at yourself to become authentic with you.  As you shine that authenticity onto your children, you will reap huge benefits of mutual respect.

Dr. Marta practices in the Verde Valley of Arizona as a Life Coach in Communication & Spiritual Consciousness. She earned a doctorate in Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and received her Life Coach training from The Institute for Global Listening and Communication.  She is the author of Why Wallow When You Can Soar?  drmartacoach@gmail.com Phone: 928-451-9482.

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