BOOK CLUB: Chapter 7 – Wholehearted Parenting

May 17, 2017

Daring to be the adults we want our children to be.

We’ve made it to the final chapter of the book! I loved this chapter. I think it’s so applicable to all of us, parent or not. Whether we’re reflecting back on experiences from our own upbringing and how that’s shaped us, or applying it to our own kids we’re raising.

“Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting.”

Parenting can be a breeding ground for shame. I love how she explains this in the first of the chapter. Parenting is full of a lot of unknowns and uncertainty. The uncertainty of parenting can bring up feelings in us that range from frustration to terror. We may seek out guidelines that can guarantee certainty and outcomes. She explains that this can lead to the extensive criticism parents receive from one another. We latch on to a method or approach and very quickly our way becomes the way, and anything else is the wrong way. When we aren’t so confident in our own abilities and decisions, we tend to be more judgemental of others decisions.

“If doubt lurks beneath my choices, that self-righteous critic will spring to life in not-so-subtle parenting moments that happen because my underlying fear of not being the perfect parent  is driving my need to confirm that, at the very least, I’m better than you.”

Do you agree that the behaviors, emotions, and values we model are more significant than the behaviors, emotions, and values we teach and encourage? Can you think of any examples from your own childhood?

She talks about wholeheartedness and gives us a list of how we can reach that goal as a family, and what we should strive to raise our kids like. I love the focus on feeling worthy and enough, rather than coming from a place of scarcity, and never being enough. If we want to raise wholehearted children, we must be vulnerable ourselves, and teach through example. If we want our kids to be healthy and have a positive body image and self confidence, we need to show that ourselves. If our kids only see us look in the mirror and complain about our body or the wrinkles on our face, what’s the message we are sending them? Recognize our own armor and model for our children how to take it off, be vulnerable, show up, and let ourselves be seen and known. Understanding and combating shame can be difficult.

“Wholehearted parenting is not having it all figured out and passing it down — It’s learning and exploring together.”

I think in more situations than just parenting this is true. When I share personal stories with my training clients about times that I don’t eat perfectly, but it’s ok because thats life and we get right back on and keep pressing forward together. It’s much more relatable and empathetic than someone telling you what to do who seems like a robot, never missing a beat. This is the shame resilient strategy of normalizing mentioned in this chapter.

She addresses the prerequisite issue. The list we think we have to check off before we’re worthy (“I’ll be worthy when…” or “I’ll be worthy if…”) Shame loves prerequisites. As parents it’s important that we recognize what prerequisites we’re handing down to our children, or people we interact with daily (friends, family members, a spouse, employee). Think of areas in your life you may have prerequisites. How can you work together as a family to engage with worthiness and let go of the if/when list? Making it clear to our children (or friends, family, spouse, employee) that they are worthy.

Perfectionism goes along with the prerequisite issue. “Perfectionism is not teaching them how to strive for excellence or be their best selves. Perfectionism is teaching them to value what other people think over what they think or how they feel.”

There’s a big difference between guilt and shame. The difference is saying “you are bad” vs “you did something bad”. Which sounds better? Shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can do and be better. An example from the book is the difference in telling a child that “they are a liar” vs “they told a lie”. Labeling them as something, rather than acknowledging a behavior that needs to change. Childhood experiences of shame change who we are, how we think about ourselves, and our sense of self-worth.

Supporting our children means supporting each other as parents and leaders. Coming from a place of worthiness rather than scarcity can take away the desire to judge or attack other parents who may be going through the same things we are.

“Daring Greatly means finding our own path and respecting what that search looks like for other folks”

The difference of fitting in and belonging. Through her research, she discovered that fitting in requires change on our part to be something others expect of us, and belonging does not require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are. Are we making sure our children (or friends, family members) feel like they belong? What can we do to create a strong sense of belonging in our home?

“Being an wholehearted, engaged parent means investing time and energy. It means sitting down with our children and understanding their world, their interests, and their stories.”… letting them know “I’m not always perfect and I’m not always right, but i’m here, open, paying attention, loving you, and fully engaged.”

It takes courage to be vulnerable, letting our children struggle and experience adversity when all we may want to do is protect them from the dangerous world. I think of parents to a girl I went to highschool with who actually payed the school to make sure their daughter made the cheerleading team. I think they may have robbed their daughter of going through a learning experience of not making a team, but learning to move forward from it.

“if we’re always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.”

To wrap things up, “daring greatly is not about winning or losing. It’s about courage. In a world where scarcity and shame dominate and feeling afraid has become second nature, vulnerability is subversive. Uncomfortable. And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But…nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”

I hope you have learned as much as I have going through this book and enjoyed it! I hope we can all strive to be understanding and compassionate to those around us, forget the judgement, and focus on courage to be ourselves. Through the uncomfortable moments, and the hard emotions, showing up and living whole heartedly.

Thank you for reading along! Stay tuned in for the next book starting soon

Here is the Wholehearted parenting manifesto from Chapter 7: