By Anastacia Gavalas
What is it that today’s parents really want? Let’s start with the declaration of deserving it all; to be happy, raise smart kids, find their passion, have good relationships, and be financially independent. But, more often than not parents are being caught up in a roller coaster of fear-based competitions to be the perfect parent. The alarming speed of daily life, constant chatter, and bombardment of stimulation, technology, and global turmoil exemplifies the need for parents to recognize the extreme impact today’s disconnect has on raising children. We allow ourselves to get absorbed by elevated levels of fear and distractions that result in the prevalent sacrifice of human connection. If ever there was a moment in time that called for rising above life’s chaos and instability, that moment is now. We desperately need to bring back some sense and sensibility to the parenting arena.
The recent menagerie of flawed approaches, whether tigerish or hovering, controlling or carefree, all overlook the most essential aspects of parenting – consciousness and meaningful relationships between parent and child. Parents who have the courage to strike a balance within their lives set their kids up for success. Others will have to work hard at clearing the onslaught of busyness that influences daily life in order to reconnect and have a chance at success. This includes creating space and time to have courageous conversations. Communication needs to be fair and balanced, as do expectations. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the noise and distraction of modern-day life, we as parents have the opportunity to choose between bringing clarity or adding noise to life each day. When parenting practices are simple and balanced without being drenched in fear-based notions, children exceed expectations.
The current culture of the world exhibits consequences of disengaged philosophies and imbalanced practices. During these times of global unrest and uncertainty, we must return to truth and sensibility. Restoring balance begins as an internal shift and needs to be practiced every single day to foster a responsive and successful progression. Finding balance helps individuals identify their feelings, make confident choices, and remain present. Stress in the modern world will continue to accelerate; but the better we utilize the time we share with children will determine how well they grow. Remaining thoroughly modern and brilliantly balanced in parenthood is possible. There just need to be some shifts in perspectives. The hurried pace and superficial connections thrust upon us will need serious reflection and a new level of consciousness in order for families to not only to survive, but thrive.
Like never before, parents are caught up in intense self-satisfying battles of perfection displayed as the window dressing in virtual profiles. The hunger for “likes” and engagement on electronic devices trumps real-life living. Our craving for approval is now deeper than ever as technology tracks our every move, but the images often portrayed are slated. Individuals chronicle perfect parenting with forced, snapped, edited, and posted selfies, children’s accomplishments, and chef-like meals in anticipation of gaining approval. Worth is based on the amount of “likes” received on their Instagram or Facebook posts rather than what is actually happening in front of them. This fierce emergence of super-happy, camera-ready, one-sided personas, and lifestyles perpetuate more disconnect, imbalance, and an unbearable level of insecurity. This, will no doubt, produce a generation of children who lack self-esteem and continually crave outside approval. We must acknowledge this sense of urgency to incessantly be connected to the external world in order to live happily; the need to do it all, have it all, post it all, and gauge personal success by what others notice, rather than genuine experiences with the people who are right in front of us.
Modern day distractions generate experiences on a superficial level. The more connected the world has become, the more disengaged people are on a personal level. It takes courage to sever from the prolific habits that have led us to the gross disconnect currently in society. Today’s disengaged families are everywhere from ball fields to dinner tables, from urban life to the suburbs, to good old ‘reality’ TV that represents families filled with outrageous drama. Parents are bombarded with fake personas and addicted to keeping up. It is as though we’re duplicating a high school mentality of needing to be part of the crowd, but the crowd has grown and the world has shrunk with the growth of technology. We’ve forgotten the most important focus should be on real family life and not just the peripheral. That’s the central accomplishment parents need to concentrate on. Parents who live consciously, authentically, respectfully, and open-mindedly will organically ignite their children’s physiological potential.
Everyone benefits from parents being balanced. The simple effort of trying to reach balance, in the various aspects of life, helps your true self emerge and provides an opportunity to see your children for who they are. Family focused lifestyles do not warrant constant updates on our social media feed. Re-configuring these unproductive patterns will lessen stress and help parents live with more clarity and purpose. Raising a family is not meant to keep us from enjoying life, but rather to experience what really matters and, essentially accelerate personal happiness. Consider that parenting doesn’t have to be the hardest job on earth. That it can actually be fun. Parents make it hard by striving towards perfection, fearing the unpredictable, stressing out unnecessarily, and resisting what is right in front of them. They are the ones responsible for the energy they bring into the family. Those able to release the grip on perfection naturally create the desired space and energy to move passed challenges and enjoy life.
The energy expelled on pretending to have it all together deprives children and parents of the depth of relationships and true happiness. The longer today’s parents keep up this pageantry, the more they’ll get tangled up in instability and chaos. Continuing this pattern makes children more susceptible to respond to negative influences as they grow. Nourishing real-life connections and having more faith in the individual process eases the intensity of external powers and helps us live presently. Life as we know it is moving at lightening speed and children are quicker, smarter, and far more intuitive than ever before. Children have an inner sense of when parents are floundering in the chaos or striving for alignment. Balance brings clarity and the opportunity for individuals to take back their life. We often hear that parents are so busy and just need more time. With lack of time comes the incapability to be kind, patient, or flexible, all of which children need to grow and develop in a healthy way. A slowing down of the constant spinning that causes a loss in reality will help parenting. A process that is unhurried promotes more responsiveness rather than reactiveness which organically cultivates a deeper resistance from fear.
There is no such thing as perfect parenting. The good news is that it’s not about perfectionism; it’s about progression, which is something everyone can embrace. Learning from the not-so perfect moments will get parents closer to the life they imagined. Slowing down rather than trying to cover up reality or keep up with others helps individuals recognize how perfect their child is for them. That child is the one person who will split their parent wide open, force them to expand, and unmask their true self in a way that no other relationship will do. Parents who live intuitively recognize the path that’s right for them as opposed to the confusion that comes forth when they mimic someone else’s life or try to fit an image. True success lies in the letting go of the pressure to be perfect, continually striving to stay balanced, and courageously connecting more with the children you are raising. Remaining conscious of what being a parent really means and how it affects the deeper happiness we seek will allow us to create experiences that help to raise healthy, well-balanced, productive children for today’s world. It’s a balance; a buoyant blend of guiding and allowing that will propel children to not only succeed but, soar. Regardless of the diversity of our lives and experiences it remains obvious that parents simply want to be better-balanced parents.
Today’s world dictates the urgency for parents to get back in the driver’s seat and engage with their children in a collaborative, well-balanced way. They need to rise above this tide of insecurity and set proportionate examples because children learn from what they see and experience, not by what they’re told. Children who bare witness to parents constantly engrossed in their smartphones will lack self-awareness and the ability to form healthy relationships, which is really what life is all about. They will not acquire the ability to distinguish truth from fiction, balance from imbalance, simulated and real life, and whole-hearted success. When children witness parents who work to realign their physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual progress they will learn to do so themselves. They will know to look inwards instead of outside for approval and contentment, and will reach true fulfillment in doing so. Parents need to wake up and remove themselves from the intensity of reaching for forged connections. The effort to get real helps us experience authentic happiness, raise smart kids, find our passion, develop good relationships, and be independent, which ultimately launches children to success.
Anastasia is a parent coach, awardwinning author, internationally recognized speaker, Huffington Post blogger, and mother of five. With over two decades of real life experience, Anastasia’s proven success is based on balance and results. She teaches parents how to create healthier lives and find the happiness they desire. She shares innovative strategies and new perspectives that put an end to uncertainty and stress and, lead her clients to success. Her Wing It™ philosophy helps modern day families build strong foundations, rebalance their lives, and launch happy, independent children. Anastasia is the author of the award-winning book, Leadership Through the Eyes of Children, and WING IT: 6 Simple Steps to Succeed as a Modern Day Parent. She is the founder of the WING IT Project, a non-profit that funds educational opportunities for children locally and globally, and co-creator of Hamptons Wellness Week. She provides private parent coaching as well as speaking at small or large gatherings about making modern parenthood easier and rebalancing family life in today’s world. Anastasia has also been featured in multiple media outlets such as TLC Network, The New York Times, ABC Family Television, The Huffington Post, Well + Good, Hamptons Magazine, NBC Television, KIWI Magazine, Parenting, ZLiving Television, MSN.com, Sheknows, Parents Magazine, ivillage, Live It Up Show, News 12 Long Island, eHow, San Diego Family, Metro Family, and Everyday Family.