If you're like me, you care about people and about the world. Deeply.
And you would love to be able to contribute to their wellbeing by raising children who will make the world a better place, who will be a loving, kind and positive influence on people around them.
Though I can unequivocally say that all 3 of my grown daughters ARE indeed those people (and most people who know them would wholeheartedly agree!) when I saw this image on Facebook recently I shared it on my Cassandra's wall.
Because it epitomizes her.
I call her "my sunshine" because she truly has the effect depicted on this image on people around her.
(And if you know the source of this image, please let me know, so I can give it proper credit! I just found it on a friend's Facebook wall. TIA)
I frequently hear myself saying that it's pretty much impossible to spend time with Cassandra and not feel happier, uplifted and have our energy feel lighter afterward.
Because there's such a light, a lightness, a purity, a kindness and a genuineness in her energy that I honestly don't see how we can be around it and not be positively impacted.
She's generous, seeks out how to support people, make them feel better and bring out the best in them.
And she is very capable in it.
She's constantly helping her loved ones and co-workers.
But she's also strong.
She knows how to take care of herself and how to set boundaries.
She's not a doormat. At all. Though she has had to work more on honoring her own needs and preferences than her sisters, in part because her nature is so incredibly kind, considerate and attuned to others' needs but also in part because of something that connects to the topic of this article which I'll describe later.
Reflecting on this graphic and on Cassandra on my walk this morning, I started thinking about what creates kind compassionate human beings who end up being such a positive influence on those around them.
And decided to write about it. ☺
Really, it boils down to one thing: MEETING THEIR NEEDS.
Happy people whose needs are met generally are kind and want to help other people.
Just think about it in terms of your own life.
When you feel good about yourself, happy, fulfilled, how do you interact with people?
How do you relate to people in need?
How do you respond even if someone says something negative or is a little triggered?
Chances are you have more patience, more compassion, more willingness to understand them than you would on a different day when you don't feel as good.
When your needs are met, you have energy to spend on other people, because you're not requiring it to deal with your inner experience.
Whereas if your needs aren't met, if you aren't happy or feel triggered, then you will be a lot less patient, kind and generous.
Your energy will be spent dealing with your inner experience or trying to change circumstances so you can feel better, therefore leaving you little to dedicate to others.
If you do end up having to give to others you're a lot more likely to end up feeling resentful.
So really, that's the bottom line.
In order to raise kind children who'll be a positive force in our world and on people, we need to make sure their needs are met.
And that they develop a positive expectation of their needs being met.
(I'm talking here about real needs, not all whims and desires which many people confuse true needs with. Read my article 7 Problems with Avoiding Saying ‘No’ at all Costs for a discussion on the difference between desires and needs.)
Once children know what it feels like to have their needs met this becomes what feels right and natural, what I think of as their operating system, and it's what they'll keep striving toward.
They won't put up with people or circumstances that don't feel right.
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Now back to Cassandra having had to work harder than her sisters to set boundaries and honor her own needs and preferences.
I strongly believe that in addition to her unusually attuned nature it's because her needs were not as well met from birth as her sisters' were.
This happened because she was my first, my guinea pig as I jokingly call her (which she thankfully finds funny because she actually feels good about the way she was parented.) Which is often the case for firstborns as I've written about here.
In my case with Cassandra, what we experienced that was different from what I learned to do later on was specifically that:
The good news for you in this is that we definitely do have quite a margin of 'error' in which we can fall short of ideally meeting our children's needs and still have them grow up into wonderfully healthy adults.
FIGURING OUT CHILDREN'S NEEDS
Figuring out what our children's needs are and then meeting them is our work.
We need to educate ourselves about what humans need in order to develop properly and even optimally.
I do believe that the book The Continuum Concept does an amazing job in this. I dive deeply into specific areas of focus in this article which describes the approach to parenting that in my experience leads to incredibly healthy children, as well as in this audio on meeting children's needs.
It's important to note that it's not about only intellectually figuring out what we think our children's needs are but we need to practice tuning in in the moment to this specific human being given their specific makeup, life experience so far, nervous system, what this very unique human being needs.
This requires us to be present. Present to ourselves, present to our child, conscious of who our child uniquely is and has been experiencing, aware of the particular circumstances of this moment.
And it requires us to look at all behaviors, especially those we deem negative, as communication.
What are those behaviors indicating about any need that might be unmet in this moment or more chronically in their lives? I provide a lot of information on this in this article.
(And incidentally the same is true for you of course!)
They could also be caused by unrealistic expectations, feelings they need help dealing with or past experiences that are still affecting them and that they need help processing.
Once the issue at the root of the behavior is attended to, our children (and ourselves too) then spontaneously go back to their kind, generous, compassionate nature which is really how we are all wired as human beings.
Another factor in raising kind children besides what they experience personally through the way they are treated in their family is what they observe in their primary caretakers.
How do you treat strangers, checkout clerks at the grocery store, servers, other drivers on the road?
How do you treat your spouse?
How do you talk about people? Including your ex if you're separated from your children's father?
What are your values? How do show up in the world? Conduct yourself in your work life?
How do you treat yourself? How do you accept being treated?
Our children learn from all of this. And depending on how they feel about the way you live, will adopt your ways or do the opposite (or find their own nuance in it.)
One of the nicest compliments I ever got, from my daughter who's least complimentary and most opinionated about pretty much everything, was how grateful she was that her dad and I had such great values.
She's realized it in her early 20s, after observing that some of her friends' parents didn't necessarily live with values their children agreed with. And she felt we'd made her life easier by her not needing to reinvent the wheel because she pretty much agreed with everything we believed in and the ways we both live.
One thing I'd be remiss not to mention here because it can be tricky is what can happen in the adolescent and teen years when children start focusing on figuring out who they are apart from their parents.
They are very likely to take on the values of the world and other people around them, temporarily.
My advice is to LET THEM.
They do need to discover who they truly are, what they believe and what their values are for themselves.
They need to explore, figure out how they fit in the culture and find their own truth within it all.
If you've met their needs properly and have modeled what you value, I'd be shocked if at some point in their 20's you didn't find them coming back to having similar values as yours if they are real values connected to humans' innate good nature as opposed to agendas and arising out of clumsy attempts to meet needs (which is how so much of our society unfortunately function.)
I'm in awe of how much all 3 of our daughters live by the exact same values their dad and I do. It's incredibly heartwarming.
And healing for this Canadian, healthy, non materialistic woman who was appalled at all the materialism, lookism, and junk food eating her American daughters engaged in in their adolescent and teen years.
So take a deep breath for a few years and trust in the long term results of the good parenting and good values you've modeled and instilled in your children.
It's such a joy to watch them come around to them, once they've had their time exploring and finding their own truth!
I hope this article has provided you clarity on what's needed to insure your children turn into the compassionate adults you'd love them to become.
And that you realize the importance of all the work you're doing to respectfully parent them in an attuned way, focused on meeting their needs.
It's such an incredible gift you're providing our world, dear mama! ♥
If you'd like my help in insuring that your children's needs are properly met, so that they can grow up into healthy human beings, if you'd like my help in fully stepping into what I've come to call clean parenting and in reaching the beautiful place of ease, harmony and peace I've come to call family homeostasis, check out my Clean Parenting™ program.
It's designed to and very effective in supporting you in achieving all this and so much more!
I would LOVE to work with you if this program is right for you! ♥
Lots of love,
Here's what Reut Katz from Israel wrote after completing the Clean Parenting program:
"Wow, asking how is your life different now than before you did the program is like asking how is your life different after you've learn how to talk. It's like nothing changed in the world but you suddenly know how to talk, act and react to everything that's happening to you. All my situations, except one, resolved, not because they don't happen anymore, but because I know how to react to them. I've been changed drastically. I don't get upset anymore. I'm much more empathic. I'm learning how to respect myself, my needs, my desires. I'm learning how to be the leader my family so desperately needs.
Last night I looked at my son after he fell asleep and all I could think about is how happy I am because I KNOW he'll grow up just fine because of these changes in me. I KNOW he'll be an amazing kid and an amazing grown up. I KNOW he'll be whole, confident, independent, connected to his inner self, respect and accept himself, LOVE HIMSELF - all I couldn't be and didn't have."