I am currently reading ‘The Gap and the Gain’ by Dan Sullivan and Dr Benjamin Hardy. It was recommended by Suzi Dafnis (from Her Business) for women to find the Gain rather than the Gap in their businesses and it is certainly very useful in that regard (you can see by all the stickers how useful I am finding this book). However, I can also see the benefit for parents.
Often, as parents, we compare ourselves to others: our own parents, our friends and siblings who may be parenting differently to us, and to those we see on social media. Using the advice of this book, we need to stop looking at the gap between where we are and the ideal where we want to be and instead look at where we have come from and to note the Gain(s) we have made along the way.
Often our parents did the best they could but it was not ideal, certainly not when compared with what we know now. They were influenced by their upbringing which was, in turn, affected by the best their parents could do. And so it continues back in history throughout the generations.
The thing with ideal parenting (or anything ideal) is that it changes over time. If we reach our ideal, we become aware of better again and that becomes ‘ideal’. So, we have in mind what is ideal for right now but there is always better that can be achieved. If I looked at my parenting, compared to how I was hoping to parent, I would be disappointed. There have been times that I got caught up in the moment and parented instinctively (as influenced by my parents) rather than with kindness and compassion. I disciplined my children using means that I vowed I would never use.
If we look at the gains we have made in our parenting, we can see how far we have come rather than how far we have to go. Rather than berating myself for disciplining ‘badly’, I have been able to stop myself, engage the conscious part of my brain and make the best of a ‘bad’ situation. Then I can congratulate myself on being able to turn the situation around and create a new ‘normal’ for my children which will affect them as people and as parents.
As parents, we need to accept that we are not perfect and so the ideal is something to aim for but not to measure ourselves by. We need to celebrate where we are doing a great job, recognise that there will be (many) times that we could do better and be honest with our children that we are doing the best we can but that we have room to improve. This takes the pressure off our children to be perfect, motivates them to always strive to do their best but to accept that they too will make mistakes and so live a happy life content that this is what being human is all about: aiming to be better but recognising that we cannot be perfect. Because in the recognition of how far we have come, rather than how far we still have to go, lies our happiness and so the possibility of becoming the best we can be.