I was writing a few weeks ago about a project that I and my partner have started, as part of our training and coaching company – Mind Learners. The project is called Mind Learners Baby – “How to raise a happy child?” – and consists of a series of courses aimed at helping future and existing parents to better know themselves and access their extraordinary potential of being a great parent.
I was sharing with you my excitement at this new endeavor, coupled with my curiosity and desire to learn from all the parents who would be taking part in these weekly two hour workshops.
Now time has come to share the first impressions I’ve gathered after the “premiere” of our project, which took place the day before yesterday – 14th July.
At 5.30 pm 10 brave moms showed up, ignoring the scorching heat. We were really surprised at the turnout, as we thought that they wouldn’t leave the house in that kind of weather. But they did! And they were full of energy, and questions, and couldn’t wait to share their own experiences of motherhood.
We spent more than 2 hours together, time in which they told us many stories “from the trenches” of this most wonderful and difficult job in the world – parenthood. We in turn, shared some of the valuable lessons that neuroscience has to offer about the workings of the emotional worlds of parents and children.
What were my lessons from this experience?
First and foremost, I learned that nothing tests one’s emotional strength and balance more than motherhood does.
Being a mother (being a parent actually, but I refer more to moms as they were the ones giving voice to their family’s experiences) is like having your heart walk out of your body and stay there for the rest of your life. Although this metaphor is not my own, watching those mothers speak of their children was like solid proof that this is true.
So never is emotional control more valuable than in parenthood. Moreover, as the attending moms shared with us, a mom’s emotional state influences and shapes her child’s emotions to an amazing degree. Sometimes, one of them confessed, just the sound of her calm voice soothes her crying baby. And the others agreed.
A second interesting lesson was that having a child creates a state of perpetual uncertainty for the parent and makes her or him confront their worst fears. So it is only too easy for a mother to stifle her child, to limit her experience of the world, just out of fear that something bad might happen.
There was a whole debate around issues such as “Is it ok to allow your child to hurt her finger closing a drawer so she might learn how to close it properly in the future, or would you better take her out of harm’s way?”. This made me realize how challenging it must be for a parent to actually stand by their child while the little one explores the world around them, oblivious to the dangers and harm that might occur. Overcoming that fear might be one of the toughest challenges a parent has to face!
Thirdly, but not lastly, I realized that the experience of motherhood is perpetually surprising, even when one is past the uncertainties of the beginning, and goes on to have a second, or even a third child.
As another of the attending moms shared, having 3 children doesn’t make motherhood any easier, because any rules one has learned raising the first child don’t really apply to the second, and even less so to the third.
They are all so different! Each with their own personality, needs, wants. A parent has to actually be a chameleon, shaping and changing their approach to fit every child’s profile.
The image of parent as army general, issuing strict rules that equally apply to all seems not to be so effective after all. The successful parent seems to be more of a symphony conductor, creating harmony between different instruments, while all the players sing their own tune, using their own unique technique and have their own, particular instrument to play on.
I’m sure this is only the beginning of my discoveries in the amazing realm of parenthood. I’ve come to believe that becoming a parent is one of the greatest opportunities for one to grow as a person and, while I am still out of the trenches for the time being, I can only watch in wonder at the courageous people who have taken this path and learn from them as much as I can.