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The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto, By Brené Brown

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By Sukh Singh, Associate Partner & Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

I think it's fair to say that most of us, whether we are a parent or not, seriously underestimate how hard it is to be a parent. To be the very best and give the best to our children, to be responsible for not only bringing a life into this world, but being partly responsible for their wellbeing, their self-worth and their experience of life is such a huge demand.

Author and researcher Brené Brown is definitely someone who has learnt the hard way how to be a better parent. On her journey, she has seen that rather than trying to be the 'perfect parent', that being vulnerable and more open with her children, more honest with herself, has brought her a lot closer to her family.

In her book, Daring Greatly, she developed a parenting 'manifesto'. As she explains...

"I wrote the following parenting manifesto because I need it. Steve and I need it. Putting down the measuring stick in a culture that uses acquisitions and accomplishments to assess worth is not easy. I use the manifesto as a touchstone, a prayer, and a meditation when I’m wrestling with vulnerability or when I’ve got that “never enough” fear. It reminds me of a finding that changed and probably saved my life: Who we are and how we engage with the world are much stronger predictors of how our children will do than what we know about parenting."

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honouring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practising compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honour hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

While this is not gospel by any means, it is incredibly powerful and can help us all to be more honest, open and giving to those we love. When we are genuinely vulnerable with those close to us, it can provide an immense amount of strength for us and the other person. You can download your own copy of this manifesto and learn more about the book, Daring Greatly, here. Or, you could start developing your own manifesto?


    If you would value any guidance as a parent (or budding parent) from someone who can guide you from their experiences, you can get in touch with one of our family and parent mentors here and we will get back to you very soon.

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