Parenting Made Me Braver

Photography:Rachel Burt Photography

By Lelia Schott

But first I had to feel safer. Safer in myself. Safer in my discernment. Safer in my relationships. Safer in my imperfection. 

No longer ashamed, I’ve grown comfortable in my vulnerability and sovereignty.  

Parenthood is a soul searching, heartbreaking, mind-blowing, ego shaking, body stretching experience. And yet it is the ultimate soul-enriching, heart fulfilling, mind-opening, character building, body changing miracle!  

It is almost 23 years ago that I became a parent for the first time. I was devoted but disciplinary techniques left me daunted.   

Parenting a first-born child is something everyone experiences for the first time and needs to grow in. Sometimes it feels like it’s working until it isn’t. We are always experiencing something new. Adjusting our sails.  

I have many happy reflections and sad regrets from the years before I became aware of gentle parenting.  

I have happy reflections because instinctively I was gentle when I followed my heart. I parented with playful connection and affection most of the time. We made incredible memories together.  

I have sad regrets because there were many times I punished because I was exhausted, anxious or overwhelmed. After the emotions passed I’d see wide-eyed little faces looking up at me and determine to learn to do better. I’d apologise for my behaviour and they’d always say, “it’s okay Mama”. 

My children taught me what grace truly feels like. I wanted to learn how to live and parent with grace.  

I’d like to share something I’ve learned from each child on my parenting journey:  

My first son taught me that children learn to treat the world how the world treats them and that discipline is not something we do *to* someone but something we do *for* ourselves.  

My second son taught me that easy-going pacemakers frequently suppress their own needs and benefit from permission and role-playing to put up their own boundaries.  

My third son taught me the power of listening and how we are braver after we feel safer. In other words resilience comes after we find rest in our hearts.  

My fourth child clung to me more than any baby, cried even on the breast, slept curled into me, fingers intertwined, grasping for me if I moved even a little, slept on top of me for at least five years, her sweet face in mine woke me for a decade or more. She followed me around to get the connection she needed and never gave up on asking for what she always deserves. She taught me the power of trust.  

My fifth child taught me that self-worth blossoms from the seeds of belonging and being…securely us and freely you.   

My sixth child taught me that it’s not all up to me. Nurturing is powerful but nature has a purpose. Maturity unfolds under the right conditions over time. 

I wish I’d had the information, understanding, and practice I have now. I like to believe we do the best we can with the understanding we have at the time. Maya Angelou’s words inspire us to “do better when we know better.” 

Of course, our children are the greatest inspiration and motivation for our self-improvement. Through education and self-nurturing we find our way back to trusting our instincts.  

Most of us want to parent from the heart (instinct) but our heads (conditioning) get in the way. I was tired and frustrated with the monotonous cycle of disconnection each day. As a newly single mum, I aspired to cultivate calm and confidence in our hearts and home. Putting my aspirations into action proved challenging.  

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