If there’s one thing I love in a fellow parent, it’s the ability to share the stuff they get wrong. Scratch that, I think that’s my favourite quality in most humans.
So hurrah for Jessica Alba, the Hollywood actor and mother of three admitted her “worst” parenting habit in a recent interview.
Jessica told In Style magazine:
"I have this terrible habit: whenever my kids ask me to find something, they're like, 'Mum, where's my . . .' you know, backpack, toothbrush, whatever. And I just say, 'Up your butt,' and that's probably bad parenting. But they got to a certain age where I'm like, 'That's where it is: it's up your butt.'"
After being in the spotlight for over 20 years and having three kids, Jessica also revealed she's really enjoying this chapter of her life. "That's something I really appreciate now that I'm getting older. I give so little f*cks . . . so little. All that matters is to be happy and live your life."
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Parenting can often feel like the most bewildering of life’s experiences; there’s just SO much to do and think about, little wonder we question ourselves so much. Another person’s honesty about their own parenting challenges can give you a bit of perspective. While their picture might look different from the outside, often what’s happening inside can be practically the same.
Jessica’s quote made me giggle – and reflect on my own worst parenting habit, which, for the record, has to be palming off the iPad and bribery (snacks, TV etc) when I want some time to myself.
But I also think what Jessica is describing comes down to being ready to embrace your own parenting style.
Making your parenting soup
Pat Jewell, team leader of the Parenting Program a the Australian Childhood Foundation told Kinderling Conversation, often this reflection comes, as Jessica describes, as your kids get a bit older and your parenting experience grows.
Pat calls it “making your parenting soup” or “trusting your gut”.
“When you meet another adult and you come together as a family – you're essentially making your family “soup”. You bring your family of origin experiences and your partner brings their own elements and rituals. The "soup" is made when you combine these things together. You need to ask yourselves: What are the values you want to pass on? What are the values we don’t want to pass on.”
As Pat explains the soup making process is entirely down to the individual.
“You make up your parenting soup as you go along. You are in a bit of a fog with the baby, but as the child gets older you start to sot out the traits you want to pass onto your children, and the stuff you want to leave behind," says Pat.
“[Parenting] is seat of the pants stuff, and you learn as you go. You learn from your child and your family unit. Every family does the best they can with what they’ve got.”
Pat's top ingredients for "family soup"
- Be strong in your skin and comfortable in your gut with what you want for your family. “You will be inundated with media messages and experts, but you have to sift through it.”
- Be safe in your skin and adventurous with what you want for your children and your family.
- Be prepared to be the minority voice among your group of parents if you want to do something for your children. E.g. You may be the only one in your parenting circle that doesn’t let your kids watch TV. If that’s you, stick to your guns.
- Take a moment (or several for reflection). “A lot of parenting happens by osmosis, but we have the power to create the family soup that best reflects our values and the values of the other adults helping to raise our children.”
What ingredients do you want in your family soup?
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