Parents... never stop working on yourself

In a week long series, parent coach and teen mentor Eileen Keane Haly looks at issues facing teenagers. Today she outlines the importance of self-care for parents and why it’s necessary
Parents... never stop working on yourself

Self-care can involve anything from having a quiet relaxing bath, to a catch up with friends, or listening to music. Picture: Stock

ONE of the best quotes I ever heard was: “The greatest gift I can give my child, is to never stop working on myself.”

I want to finish this series with a piece about you, the parent. So many of us spend every waking hour looking after everyone else, our partners, parents and kids. But who is looking after us?

All any of us can do is our best and be the best parent we can be. To be the best parent we can be however, we need to firstly be in a good place ourselves.

Looking after ourselves is so important, because a happy, contented parent is in a much better place to parent their child the way they want to.

Self-care is vital, yet it is something most of us do not give enough time to. Here are some self-care strategies that have helped me;

  • Go for a walk with a good friend
  • Have a bath, light a candle and relax
  • Chill with a good book
  • Listen to music that helps you feel at ease
  • Spend time in nature and ground yourself
  • Learn to breath, allow the breath to control the mind, not the mind controlling the breath - maybe start a little meditation

Most of us will have experienced a personal struggle at some stage in our lives that we were unable to fully deal with at the time. These short term self-care strategies mentioned above will only work on tackling short term problems. Sometimes we many need support from elsewhere.

Acknowledging this and being brave enough to get the help you need, is in fact a sign of great strength.

Why might you need to get support from elsewhere;

  • You many be struggling with issues from the way you were parented
  • Your confidence may be low
  • You may have relationship issues
  • You may have trust issues
  • You may have had abusive relationships in the past
  • You may struggle with regulating your emotions
  • You may be lonely ……the list is endless.

How we were parented ourselves strongly influences how we parent our children. Our parents did their best but they were learning on the job too. We should take on board the things that worked for us, the beneficial things our parents did for us and reject the things that did not work out so well.

Make the changes that you feel are right for your family, if you do not make the changes that you need to make, these patterns can be passed on from generation to generation.

The world our kids are growing up in is a very different world to the world we grew up in. We cannot parent them the same we were parented, it just won’t work.

Parent your child the way you think is best, not the way others (parents, siblings, peers, teachers and so forth…) want and expect you to. No one knows your child better than you do. Trust in yourself.

We all have people in our lives that we trust and respect and of course we may ask them for their advice from time to time on different issues. We may also have people in our lives (family, friends, neighbours, teachers) who are more than willing to give us advice, but we must remember that it may not always be the right advice for our family. Every family has different values, different beliefs and different expectations in life, so not all advice received will be relevant to your family.

Sometimes it is a good idea to leave the outside voices where they belong - outside. It is also good to remember that sometimes the problems with opinions is that everyone has one.

A friend once told me, “Look after yourself and your family and everything else will fall into place.” By this she meant we all need to take time to decide what is important to our family, what we may want to pass onto our kids and what we may want to leave behind. Trust in yourself and your family unit, and support and look after one another. That is, after all, what family means.

I strongly believe parenting is the hardest job any of us will ever have. It will bring us to every height of emotion, ups and downs. Don’t underestimate the importance of your role as a parent, you are rearing the next generation, the next creators, musicians, doctors, teachers, politicians etc…what job could be more important?

Your kids will always need you, whatever age they are, and believe it or not, we need them too.

Enjoy your parenting experience, make the most of this precious time - it goes by so fast. Parenting is not to be feared, in fact when we embrace this experience wholeheartedly it can be the most rewarding job we will ever have.

Eileen Keane Haly.
Eileen Keane Haly.

About the author:

Eileen Keane Haly, is the Director of and author of The Parent. Eileen is a qualified Parent Coach, Kids Confidence Coach and Teenage Mentor, with a background in child psychology.

Most of her professional life has been spent gathering information about how our younger generation work, how they deal with difficult situations, how social media is affecting them socially and emotionally, how their school life, social life and home life impact on their everyday experiences. She has recently published her first parenting book called The Parent which can be purchased on her website

You can also follow Eileen on her Instagram page jumpstartyourconfidenccork and Facebook page.

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