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How To Accept Your Children Just As They Are

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We often say we love our kids no matter what, but unconditional acceptance can sometimes be a struggle. Learn how to accept your children for who they are.


 

#3 Featured How To Accept Your Children Just As They Are“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Charles R. Swindoll

I think that is one of the most wonderful and scariest things about being a parent. Every day we get to start over. We have the chance to make deposits into our child’s memory banks. And those memories will have a powerful impact on our kid’s lives.

We want those memories to be good ones

Think about the people you encountered as a child. Did you have an adult in your life who accepted and loved you just as you were? How did they make you feel? Now contrast that with memories of an adult who was constantly criticizing you?

Acceptance is a wonderful gift that we can offer our children every day. Still it can be a struggle at times. Raising kids is hard work.

It would be so much easier if they would just do as they are told, listen to our every word, and refrain from picking their nose in public.

But alas that doesn’t happen, so we parents have to hone our acceptance skills and love them anyways.

I’ve come a long ways on this acceptance journey. I haven’t quite got the point where I can confidently say I accept my children just as they are,  but I have come a long way. Here are a few things that I have found helpful.

How To Accept Your Children Just As They Are

 

6 tips to help you accept your children just as they are

1. Work on Self-Acceptance

If we can accept ourselves it will be easier to accept our children in the same way. Shame researcher Brené Brown’s explains,

“We judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking folks who are doing worse than we’re doing.… We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.”

I have seen this idea at work in my my own life. If I am feeling inadequate I tend to be more critical of my boys. When I am happy with myself I find it so much easier to accept them just as they are. It takes practice and perseverance to accept ourselves, but the benefits ripple out to all our relationships.

Leo Babuata has written a helpful post about self-acceptance here. I would also recommend Brené Brown’s books

2. Learn a little about child development

Understanding the ages and stages of your children will help you understand why they behave the way they do.

Did you know that toddlers are at the stage when they are developing a sense of self, so for them resistance is normal and healthy? That was a huge revelation for me. Once I understood this I was able to deal with tantrums, and defiance calmly and accept that this was just a stage.

Well most of the time anyway!

3. Take time to understand your child’s personality

Most parents discover very quickly that every child comes into the world with their own unique personality. Take the time to figure out your child’s personality type and find out more about that type. This will help you understand

  • What makes your children tick.
  • How they will relate to you and others.
  • How they are different from you

Learning about this makes it so much easier to accept your children and rejoice in the differences.

4. Let go of your expectations and dreams

We all have dreams and expectations for our children, but at some point we must let go of them and let our children live their own lives.

I always assumed that all of my children would go onto university. As it happens two of them chose to go straight from high school into the work force. I was terribly disappointed and worried that they would not be able to get a good job.

For a while I pestered both boys about their choices and tried to persuade them to go to school. Eventually it dawned on me that I was pushing MY expectations on them and that wasn’t fair.

Today both of my boys are making their way in the world just fine and in fact one of them just landed his dream job. I needed to get out of the way and respect their choices.

5. Let go of your fears

When you find yourself constantly criticizing your children take a step back and examine what is behind the criticism. Often it is fear.

Perhaps fear that we are not doing a good job as a parent.

Fear that our children will grow into adults who cannot function in the world.

Fear that other parents will judge us.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is acceptance. Learn to let go of the fears that get in the way. It is not our children’s responsibility to make us feel good or prove that we are good parents.

6. Be mindful of the underlying causes of your child’s behavior

In particular watch for learning disabilities – Did you know that children with Dyscalculia are not able to learn their tables, struggle to do even the simplest mathematical calculations, or find it impossible to follow verbal instructions?

I didn’t until my youngest son was diagnosed with this learning disorder. Once I understood this I was able to accept that he needed a calculator to do the simplest calculations and did much better with written instructions.

I would also watch for mental illness and signs that a child is being bullied or abused.

Over to you

This is not an exhaustive list, so I invite you to add to it. What tips would you add to the list? What things have helped you learn to accept your children?

How To Accept Your Children Just As They Are

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25 thoughts on “How To Accept Your Children Just As They Are”

  1. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for the reminder to step back and set aside my agenda for my daughter. She is really coming into her own at age seven, and it can be so hard not to get in the way.

    I love the section on self-acceptance. I have been working on this and have found that the more content I am with me, the more content and patient I am with her.

    Also love the quote at the end. Thanks for this post!

    1. Thank you Kayla. Seven is a wonderful age isn’t it? I completely understand the challenges of not getting in the way of our children. Still I think awareness is a great first step and makes a huge difference.

  2. Bonnie a.k.a. LadyBlogger

    Thanks so much for writing this beautiful post! I am so glad that there is a voice of reason out there! 🙂 Parents get so caught up in their kids sometimes and forget that they are DIFFERENT people. We parents have had out time, now it’s theirs.

    1. Gosh you are so right Kendra. I’m still working on this acceptance thing, even though my boys are now adults. I’m also being challenged at work on occasion. We have some library patrons that sorely test my acceptance skills 🙂

  3. Great things to be mindful of. I know that I need to check myself not to be overly critical of my son in public – it’s something I do to myself and mustn’t project on him!

    Hello from #teamIBOT

    1. That inner voice of criticism is soo loud sometimes. I have found Brene Brown’s books really helpful.

  4. There must be something in the air, cause I have read so many of these types of posts lately!
    I absolutely believe that we ned to accept our kids for who they are. I also think though that we need to offer guidance to help them be the person they can be.

  5. Thanks for this. I’m not quite there yet, as my LO is only 3 months, but I do think about stuff like this a lot. I’ve been reading a lot about gentle and attachment parenting. That’s where I’m headed, I’m sure of it. And I think the biggest thing for me is to ignore all those rules and lists that say what your child “should” be doing at a certain age. If he’s a toddler and freaking out, it’s more important to figure out what’s wrong than to scold him and try to fit him into my convenient box. I’m going to file this post away in my “future stuff for baby” folder!

  6. What a wonderful post and some really great advice. It is so easy to get caught up in a vicious-rowing-circle, this has made me realise I maybe need to take a step back and actually see what is happening and what my child needs.
    Thanks so much for sharing with the Monday Parenting Pin It Party x

  7. This is a really brilliant post. Even the title really made me sit back and think hard. Thank you. I’m going to be reflecting on this a lot – I think number 5 is my biggest stumbling block at the moment.
    I’m featuring this on the Sunday Parenting Party this week and pinnning to the SPP board.

    1. Thank you for your encouraging comment! I must confess I still wrestle with number 5 from time to time and my boys are adults!!

  8. The one chord that seemed to run through the whole list is to let your parenting be about the child and not you. I think we often just get in the way. Great post. You have me thinking about trusting my child more. Thank for linking up with the Sunday Parenting Party! I am a new host!

    1. So glad you could visit. I really like the Sunday Parenting Party and will be visiting each week.

  9. this is all so important, I agree with what you have said, and sometimes these simple things are too easy to forget! When I first had my 1st baby I had all these ideas of what I will do, what he will be etc etc… then as they get bigger it dawns on you that they wont be doing that, because they have ideas of their own, they are their own people and don’t need to be moulded into anything else! You explained it all so well 🙂

  10. This is such an important post, Sharon. So much of our adult pain comes from feeling a lack of acceptance as a child. If we can be aware of and heal our own pain, it will makes such a difference in our family and our world.

  11. I needed this today for Thanksgiving. As a mom, I’m secretly embarrassed of my family. I was raised Christian conservative background. My in-laws are Christian conservation. When I married my husband, I thought we were on the same page. My husband is considered the “black sheep” and my children follow 2 paths of us. When I go to my in-laws, it feels that we are on the outside because of my husband and children. It’s the same way at church. We tend to get in groups for the sense of “belonging”. I belong to the Christian conservative world, but because of my family, it does limit me. Such as, we don’t get invites from other families because of the differences. I can only get invites as a single person, such as, ladies functions and the like. I was depressed over this for a long time. Now I am accepting it more and accept my loneliness (accept with God, Who will never leave nor forsake me). I stopped fighting in trying to change my family. I just let them be and I be who I am – practicing being loving, non-judgmental humbleness, being quiet and listen, and just let it go . It’s just more difficult at the Holiday gatherings like today on Thanksgiving.

  12. What about if your teenager has so much going for them but chooses to lock themselves away in their room?

    1. Sharon Harding

      Jane thanks for your excellent question. I am away with family for a few days, but will respond next week.

    2. Sharon Harding

      Welcome to the teen years. Separating from your parents is part of growing up and adolescence is the time when that process of separation really gets going with a vengeance. At this stage of development it’s normal for teenagers to want their own space and to want to spend less time hanging out with parents and family. They are preparing to live independent lives. The only place they have to call their own is their room, so they tend to retreat there. Some also need to get away from noisy and demanding siblings. I know it is frustrating for parents, but yes it is normal and it is would probably be helpful to accept that this is part of the teen years. The only time I would be concerned is if it is accompanied by signs of teenage depression. You can find a list of symptoms here.
      My boys all lurked in their rooms during their teen years. They were expected to join the family for meals and they were not allowed to have food in their room, which meant they had to emerge at regular intervals. They all had jobs during their teen years, so that got them out of the house. I have heard that the book “Staying Connected To Your Teenager: How To Keep Them Talking To You And How To Hear What They’re Really Saying” by Michael Riera is very good, but I haven’t read it myself. You might want to give it a look though.

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