The 'definitive' guide to parenting

Advice from a real life ‘teen mom.’

Ok, so maybe it isn’t ‘definitive’, maybe its only 5 steps… And these are just my light-hearted musings... 

Just so you know that I qualify to muse on this subject…

In my illustrious career as a mother, I started out at the ripe old age of 18 – managed to survive teenage pregnancy and now I’m tipping the scales at 32. 

I worked hard, studied hard, found a pretty decent bloke to marry and started my own company. 

I’ve made a lot of mistakes and had some pretty great wins along the way. 

My son is now 14, we co-parent very successfully with Ethan’s dad and step-mum. (that’s a whole other topic)

So… buckle up and follow my steps.

Step 1.
Throw out all the parenting books you have ever bought or books that have been thrust upon you by well meaning friends. 

Step 2.
Tell your well meaning friends and family to ‘shut it’ – unless you ask for their advice or opinion, you just ain’t interested in how they potty trained Billy by the time he was 6 months old. Do what works for your family. You and and your child.

Step 3.
Feed, water, shelter and clothe said child.

Step 4.
Love the hell out of your child, tell them every day, show them every day and most importantly…

Step 5.
Spend time with them doing normal everyday things and teach them to find joy in the ordinary. 

We live in a world that is constantly demanding instant gratification and the stimuli required to keep up is getting more and more intense.

Ask any parent, ask yourself right now – if you could have one wish in the world what would it be? I know my answer would be: 

“For my child to live a happy, healthy life.”

This may sound contrite and a bit too cutesy but, really, when you think about it if this wish I’m granting you could ensure your child’s health and happiness what else comes even close to trumping that? 

If you can teach your child to be happy in this moment, to find fun and pleasure in the everyday, surely you are giving them the greatest gift of all…It is my belief that the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our emotions and feelings we experience on a consistent basis… if you regularly experience joy, peace of mind, good health, energy, contentment and happiness (these are just a few examples of emotions I place value in) – I’m willing to bet you are pretty satisfied with life… and far more equipped to go after the more tangible goals and dreams that make life more comfortable (i.e. house, nice car, private education).

Don’t we want this for our children? 

Ok, so before I said throw out any books on parenting, I meant all books except this one by William Martin author of ‘The Parents Tao Te Ching.’

He wrote:

“Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives
Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

In this crazy life we live, in the hustle and bustle of the everyday, these moments are often forgotten. 

I became a mother when I was barely an adult myself. To me at the time, it was my reality; I didn’t feel like an 18 year old. I had a job, lived with my partner and thought I pretty much knew it all. I look back on my situation and think ‘how the hell did I do that’? I look at my son now, at 14, and my heart swells with pride, pride for my son and I know we aren’t supposed to pat  ourselves on the back  these days, but I AM proud of who my son is. 

Whether my parenting skills have anything to do with it, I don’t know, what I do know is that Ethan teaches me more now about how precious time is and how to be a good parent than I would ever previously have admitted to knowing. The ultimate gift our children give us is the ability to see the good bits of ourselves in them. 

Sit back, look at what you have created and allow yourself a moment (or two) of heart bursting pride, happiness and gratitude. 

Just doing this little exercise in allowing yourself to admire your handiwork, marvelling at the creation of your offspring – is a perfect way to come into the present moment and feel gratitude. Filling your heart with gratitude will instantly dissolve any feelings of stress, angst or frustration (go on, try it!) and turn an otherwise ordinary moment into an extraordinary one.

Teach your children to find pleasure in their own company, to slow down and enjoy the ordinary moments in life. 

Teach your children to enjoy today.

Enrich their lives with the company of their family and close friends… these are the pleasures they will treasure forever. This is an ability they will need to rely on in life…in the good times…and when inevitably things go south at some point (and they will), your child will need the tools you’ve equipped them with and the right people around them to get back on top.

Everything else comes and goes. All the material crap we place so much importance in obtaining and filling our lives with is immaterial (mind the pun) when faced with life’s great and testing moments.

The Chinese always have a great proverb to sum everything up…

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

I like to use this modern day analogy to bring it back to our topic at hand…

Give your kid an iPad and keep him happy for an hour (or until the battery runs out), teach your kid how to play football, that’s something you’ll share for a lifetime.

Tenar Larsen Roberts

Tenar Larsen Roberts is the Founder & Director of The Lifestylers Co.

The Lifestylers Co (TLC) provides Health and Lifestyle consulting services for companies and individuals across Sydney.TLC is a community of people, brands & products that enable their clients to lead happier, healthier lives with less stress and more time to do good things!
Tenar is a certified Life Coach, a recognised Sports & Exercise Nutrition Coach with Precision Nutrition & holds a Master Trainer Qualification from the Australian Institute of Fitness. Tenar combines her training in the areas of food, movement and mindset to deliver truly holistic, outcome-based solutions.
Find out more about what TLC offers or contact Tenar directly