Ironically this piece is doing the exact thing the title is trying to save you from but hear me out, there is a method to the madness. I promise. My aim in this post is to leave you filling inspired to parent your children truly your way, without feeling guilt that you’re not taking on others advice, nor embarrassment or shame in the way you have chosen to do it. You’re safe from political parenting here.

The justification

I have two kids. No doubt you have at least one, or one on the way. I also have people in my life, as I’m sure you do, that *want the best* for our kids. I’m also convinced some how people have even convinced themselves that they *want the best* for our kids even more than we, as parents, would want for them; “some how”. Parenting is a solo act, solo meaning between Mum and Dad and not 3rd party contractors such as in-laws, out-laws, siblings, friends, relatives, the mechanic or hairdresser…

If you haven’t mustered the courage to explain to that 3rd party contractor that their redundancy package has been approved, here is your opportunity to share this article in your facebook feed or tag a friend suffering from parenting-pain so others get the hint that you’re done with co-parenting and you’re ready to raise your kids your way. You will also be equipped to declare that when you need the advice of others, that you will ask for the advice, only when it’s needed.

What parental leadership should look like

This is very subjective. It probably depends on a range of things, namely;

  1. How you were raised
  2. What you value, and, what you don’t
  3. Your children’s strengths
  4. Your strengths, and, your partners strengths (or lack thereof, *hand slap*)
  5. Your ability, or, inability to be selfless

How you were raised will play a key part in the direction you choose to take when parenting. And lucky for you, the choice is simple. You either do the same thing your parents did, or you do things differently. I know for me personally there are things I would proudly take from the parenting style deployed in my upbringing, and then there are things that I certainly won’t take. Depending on the next factor, you will pick and chose, or chose not, what you will in turn deploy.

Your values, and what you don’t value, play a large role in leadership. If you value independence and letting your little ones make choices for themselves, take their own initiative at tasks and are OK with them making their mistakes and interpreting what those mistakes mean to themselves, then you will need to value trust more purely than someone who micro-manages everything their child does which otherwise requires an element of letting go of fear.

What are your child’s strengths? A recent parent-teacher interview I attended started off with the usual blah-blah distracted blah-blah listen more blah-blah I tried this blah-blah non-sense. Not that I don’t value good behavior, but when the ramble just went on-and-on (inspite of a very good academic report, so it was to my surprise) I just felt that a little focus on a child’s strengths would go a long way, significantly more than the former approach. I firmly moved to direct the conversation to how we can bet on a child’s strengths, their assertions, confidence, emotional intelligence, ability to pick up on technical tasks quickly and so on, clear strengths I know my child has and displays when you take a moment to see them, all of which on a macro level, when playing the long game, will be of great benefit. Quite different to what society has historically valued as “the norm”. So, I challenge all of you parents to hone in on your child’s strengths rather than give attention to much of their perceived weaknesses. Facilitate what makes them great and build their confidence around things they are intrinsically good at. It’s the most valuable and rewarding place to start. It’s the opposite to what we were probably taught, but so are most great leaders.

It was no accident you were prompted to look at your child’s strengths and support their’s before looking at your own. Remember, we are in fact talking about leadership. If you are a parent-to-be you’re in a fortunate position to be able to evaluate yourself before having to look at how your children emerge in this space. I vividly remember before my own son was first born, being in fear of how good of a leader I will be for him. It was by far the biggest expectation I had for myself and I’m sure many of you would feel the same. Let us take a good moment to evaluate how well we respond to self-doubt, fear, uncertainty, inhibition, failure, our past experiences and general variables life routinely throws your way. If you commonly live in a place of fear and self-doubt it’s likely you will bleed these values, by example, into your children. I’d go as far as to argue that we have a duty as leaders to address these within ourselves, if not for yourself, for your children. The way we lead ourselves, the way we carry our own values, the act of betting on our own strengths over any weaknesses we otherwise have will shape the way we raise our children. These personal strengths are driving forces in raising our children and so I’m confident they will play a key role in how we play out the role as parents and ultimately as leaders.

Selflessness is by far one of the most underrated attributes of a profound leader. Putting integrity and the other person above and before yourself takes both courage and confidence not without a genuine desire to see others do just as good as we hope for ourselves. It’s that desire to give, to see others be happy, to follow what brings joy to their own lives, without judgement, persecution, ridicule or cynicism that embodies what it means to be selfless. What do you want your child to be when they grow up? Happy. It is up to them to define what that is. It is up to us as parents to facilitate their journey until which point they can carry their own, to pave out their own happiness, taking responsibility for it. By betting on our children’s strengths, raising them with independence and focusing not on our own weaknesses but supporting what makes us strong as leaders, we are inherently increasing the odds of a life not centered around being selfish, but one based on being selfless.

And when others do not approve?

By embodying those points raised above, one should feel equipped to need not justify the decisions we make as parents, as we needn’t answer to anyone about our own children just as much as anyone needn’t answer to you about theirs. There will however be those that fail to understand what it means to be selfless and through their own fears and insecurities may try to level the parenting playing field so that their opinions come out on top– “Don’t breastfeed in public. Don’t feed your children that. You should send them to this school. You should teach them not to say that. Letting them do that will be a distraction. You’re not feeding them enough. You’re feeding them too much. You should teach your child to marry their own race. I couldn’t bare if my child was homosexual. Get married in a church, not a garden. Don’t get married. Make money before anything else. Get this job. Don’t follow that dream, it’s not a real job.” Blah. Blah. Blah.

Nonsense. All of it.

By the very nature that is human evolution, a child is raised (in the modern world) by two parents, i.e., the act of parenting. Indeed, it is unfortunate that sometimes this journey will be a solo one and single parents move extraordinary mountains and deserve such respect, but co-parenting (with in-laws, relatives etc.) is something to consider staying clear of when it is clearly not supportive, not conducive to living out the values of being a truly selfless leader for your children. Welcome those that lead as such and together we can live out the role as parents with the utmost fulfillment and satisfaction, watching our children grown up, happy. And maybe one day, should they so chose, they may even do the same.


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