Menu

Motherhood is: Parenting with your heart, not your ego

I need to embrace the idea that nurturing, supporting, and loving my child has everything to do with encouraging them to be the best version of themselves and nothing to do with raising a miniature version of me.

Motherhood is: Parenting with your heart, not your ego

Like I often do, I posted (yet another) video of my kid on my Instagram. He was being his regular, carefree, joyful, pure-hearted self, twirling freely while his infectious laugh carried through the air. The online village I'm grateful to be part of sent me messages, as they so lovingly do.

"He looks just like you!"

"He laughs just like you!"

"He's your mini-me!"

I love hearing comments like this. What parent doesn't? I often see so much of myself in my kids. The good parts as well as the parts of myself I deem as not so great. I love taking credit for the beautiful and hilarious bits of him, but I have to try hard to squash the insecurities when I notice the other parts. The ones that arise when I see traits of myself, the ones I have never been fond of, in him.

My wide nose.

My loud, booming laugh.

So many aspects of my personality that cause self-doubt.

As I reflected on this, I cringed. I realized that I'm allowing my ego to drive my emotions, which, of course, affects my parenting. Not only is this not fair to my kids, but it's also not fair to me. And I know I need to make a change.

What I feel like I need to do is let go of my ego and parent with my heart.

I need to embrace the idea that nurturing, supporting, and loving my child has everything to do with encouraging them to be the best version of themselves and nothing to do with raising a miniature version of me.

Compliments are lovely, and comparisons are natural. There's nothing wrong with my children being similar to me. I love seeing reflections of myself in them, and feel proud when I do. Nevertheless, I don't ever want them to feel as though they're required to be a mirror image of me or my personality.

My children are so much more than just an extension of me.

I want to encourage and nurture their developing personalities. Positive parenting expert Rebecca Eanes says, "I think we need to hear that it's okay to listen to our hearts. It's okay to let go of control and embrace love." Letting go of my ego and parenting with my heart is not a simple task, per se, but it is a worthy one. And I know there are more than a few ways I can implement this notion in our everyday lives.

I can start by building up my children's self-confidence. By encouraging them to try all different sports and letting them choose extracurricular activities that they enjoy, this will allow them to cultivate interests that appeal to them.

I can boost them up when they choose to express themselves through their own personal style. My oldest kids (4 years old and 9 years old) have their own opinions on how they want to present themselves and what kind of clothes they want to wear. By encouraging them to pick out their clothing (and guiding them based on weather and age-appropriate style), they let their individuality shine through.

I can always be sure to communicate clearly with my children. I can watch and learn how they complete tasks, whether it be cleaning their room or creating a craft, by discussing techniques for completion rather than telling them the way I would do something allows both of us to see there are different ways to approach something yet still reach a similar outcome.

I can demonstrate my ability to be myself. By being authentically me, I hope this will model for them that being true to themselves is not only an acceptable way to be, but it's actually the best way to be.

I'm not expecting myself to be perfect—at 36 I'm still a work in progress as well—but I can show them that it's perfectly acceptable for anyone to keep discovering, learning, and growing as person.

I can put my ego aside and accept their dislikes, even when it's something I enjoy personally. I've always enjoyed going to the theater and always hoped my children would feel the same. However, a recent trip to the theater which required us to leave at intermission has showed me that it is not the case for them.

I have to accept the fact that it's not part of who they are right now, and that is okay. Maybe it'll happen for us later in life. In the meantime, there are numerous activities and hobbies available to us and there are countless other activities we can enjoy together.

It's natural and important to have hopes and dreams for my child, of course, but it's equally as important to remember that they are always evolving. And it's my job to make sure their bright personalities feel safe and secure enough to shine through—no matter what.

You might also like:

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

Keep reading Show less
Life