how to be a good parent to yourself

Today we ask that you learn to be good parents to yourselves.

This is not easy to do, especially if the parents who raised you were fearful, reactive people.  There are very few “good parents” on this planet, although it is not for you to judge any parent as “bad.”  Everyone does his best.  You live in a crazy world.  It is only natural that most parents are crazy.  They don’t know any better.

Good parenting is all about creating a safe, nurturing environment conducive to growth, creativity, and exploration.

Good parenting does not just apply to children.

Are you someone who creates a safe, nurturing environment conducive to your own personal growth and exploration?

Good parenting is like good gardening.  It requires an understanding, cultivated partly through education but mostly through trial and error, of what works best for specific plants in specific environments.

You garden a rose bush differently than you do a cactus.

You make adjustments based on climate, and season.

Every plant is unique.  Most plants will thrive in one environment, but wilt in another.

For example: some people are naturally more sociable than others.  Some people thrive when they frequently interact and engage with other people out in the world.

Other people do better with solitude, and quiet.  While they can socialize, they do better with a lot of down time.  

The lively, sociable person would wilt with boredom in a secluded, solitary environment.  The quiet, reflective person would wilt with exhaustion in an environment of constant socializing and stimuli. 

This doesn’t mean there’s anything “wrong” with either of these people.

A rose bush won’t bloom in arid desert soil.  A cactus needs a lot of sunlight.

Good parenting is knowing if you are a cactus or a rose bush, and doing your best to create a conducive environment for your growth.

Sometimes a cactus is born into a family of rose bushes, or a rose bush is born into a family of cacti.  This can be challenging.  But a good parent is able to recognize and accept that a child is not wired in the same way he is, and do his best to help the child flourish.

Sometimes you must work with limitations.  Maybe you are a rose bush living in a desert, and you cannot move at this time.  What do you do?  You create a little private patch of space that is conducive for rose bush growth.  You create your “pot.”  You make sure that your pot is well-watered, has good soil, and gets the right amount of light and shade.

What you do not do is get angry at yourself for not being a cactus.

Does this make sense?

It requires honesty, and clear perception.

Really the best thing you can do is just give yourself permission to be you.

Maybe you are cactus, maybe you are a rose bush, maybe you are a geranium or a spider plant.  Whatever you are, you are perfect — and there is nothing else that you can or should be.

Good parenting is knowing and accepting who you are, as you are.  It is knowing what is good for you.

What is good for someone else is probably not good for you, unless that person is very much like you.

Maybe someone else can drink alcohol, and it is not a big deal for him.  But for you, it is bad — it makes you sick, or triggers addictive behavior.

Being a good parent to yourself means you do not drink alcohol.  It does not matter if other people can do it.  You won’t, because you are committed to taking good care of yourself.

Good parenting means accepting your limitations, while working to expand and grow.  It is a delicate balance.  Before you can grow, you must create a safe, nurturing environment for yourself.  This does not mean you need a lot of money and a big house or anything like that.  It is about taking good care of yourself — eating well, sleeping well, exercising, meditating, staying healthy and so on.

If you are not a social animal, then do not pressure yourself to socialize.  If you are a social butterfly, don’t shut yourself up in a cave with your nose to the grindstone.  To thine own self be true.

Once you create a good environment for yourself, then you can expand.  But if a rose bush is planted in desert sand in the summer, don’t expect flowers!  

Don’t force yourself to be like anyone else.  That is the essence of good parenting.  Know what is good for you.