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Why Do We Need To Change When It Comes To Being A Good Parent?

Every time I read an article about a new parenting method, it always makes me wish that I was that person who changed it, rather than the one who followed it.

So maybe if you’re a parent, one question about parenting makes you want to quit: “What do I do about my bad kids?” Because my answer to that: “Nothing.” No parenting changes or approaches will make your children better. They need to do whatever they wish with their own lives, as they wish.

So how do I know? Because when I was a teenager, I went off on a parenting course at age 17. This was my third course, and I spent the first two, trying to learn about how to parent. They had me read something about “normal brain function” and “the brain’s reward pathway” and things that were boring and I’d never even thought about.

But before I could get to that, I had to read a sentence that made me stop: “Parenting can help us change bad behaviour from within ourselves. If we learn how to accept our bodies as they are rather than trying to alter them to fit into a socially defined standard of beauty, we will begin to change our own behaviour. Once we no longer want to be treated differently, we won’t be.”        

No, that’s not true. If you were in this situation, you might very well still be trying to change your kids with parenting techniques, which might be effective in one situation and ineffective in another. The reason I say this: the only real change is a change in our behaviour , so teaching children to accept their bodies as they are will cause less change than teaching them to accept themselves.

Of course, the real problem isn’t to change their body image (in fact the body image issue can’t be solved until you stop seeing all shapes and sizes as good; so the next piece of advice I want to give is to never let anyone put you down for how you look; see here). The real issue is that we all learn how to accept our bodies from our early years, and it is this learning that will make us who we are in the long term .

Which brings me back to my first advice:

A new generation of parents will find it easier to get their children to accept themselves if they have a good example of what being accepted looks like! So let’s take a look at some great examples of acceptance we have here at FFF. One of the most famous examples is of the late, great Prince, Andrew, whose mother (whose image is on the cover of this book), had always thought that Prince was only good at music, but turned to sports instead. Her choice had been the wrong decision!

Another example is that of the children’s author Joanna Coles, who wrote the book How Not To Be A Child, where she takes on the social pressures to be a parent, and explains how she overcame the feeling that she only had the body that society expected (her dad is a professional footballer, and her mum is a highly successful actress).

A lot of you might wonder why parents are so scared about telling their child they’re not like everyone else’s children. The answer is quite simple: children can tell . I don’t think it’s necessary to write an article on this, but one of the best and most reliable ways children can tell, is through their facial expressions. So I’m not really trying to be a strict mother here, but I think it’s important to be honest with your child about how they feel about themselves.