Get ready for a parenting makeover!
If you’re a parent today, you face extreme pressure to get everything exactly “right”—a pursuit of perfection that probably makes parenting feel hard. It encourages you to worry about whether you’re doing a good enough job, and to wonder if your kids will turn out okay.
In The “Perfect” Parent, Roma Khetarpal puts all of that agony to rest. She explains that the key to a fulfilling parenting experience is to stop chasing an ideal and instead use your inner perfection to nurture a strong, communicative connection with your children—which will lead them to be happy, think positive, and do good.
Drawing from the fields of personal growth and emotional intelligence and distilling cutting-edge scientific research, Khetarpal leads you through five communication tools designed to help parents strengthen their bond with their kids and handle the doubt, guilt, worry, and fear that often accompany the challenges of raising children. Along the way, she shares helpful, humorous real-life stories taken from the popular parenting classes she’s taught for years, as well as easy-to-remember exercises—such as “Dealing with the Feeling” and “Take Five”—for use in common family situations.
With this short, useful, and enjoyable guide, you will be equipped with the simple tools you need to build a relationship with your kids that lasts a lifetime.
Includes a “Perfect’ parent toolbox!
|Publisher:||Greenleaf Book Group Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Roma Khetarpal is the founder and CEO of Tools of Growth, through which she helps parents raise kids to “Be Happy, Think Positive, and Do Good.” With parenting classes, community outreach, articles, reviews, and blog posts, Tools of Growth provides parents with simple, easy-to-remember, and effective communication tools that can help them build a strong foundation and relationship with their children. By synthesizing the themes and concepts of the personal growth and emotional intelligence fields, along with cutting-edge parenting research, Khetarpal delivers her message in an accessible, reassuring, and personally empowering way. She is also the author of the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) GOLD Award-Winning book, “The ‘Perfect’ Parent: 5 Tools for Using Your Inner Perfection to Connect With Your Kids.” In “The ‘Perfect’ Parent,” Khetarpal writes that it’s the dynamic between parents and children that makes the difference. She provides tools so that parents can draw on their inner resources — what she calls inner perfection — to enhance the way they connect with their children, building trust and thereby making it second nature for children to reach out to their parents, strengthening that bond for life. Her book has been recommended by renowned editorial reviewers, Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal, and has also been endorsed and recommended by author and clinical psychologist, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, featured on Oprah’s Lifeclass, Asha Dornfest, author and founder of ParentHacks.com and Dr. Christine Carter, sociologist and author of Raising Happiness, to name a few. She is also an Executive Board Member of the Philanthropic Society Los Angeles, which raises funds for Children’s Institute, Inc., and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation, an organization providing support, programs and leadership for K-12 public school education. Khetarpal also serves on the Board of Directors at AM-Touch Dental, where she was vice president of sales and marketing for twenty years before founding Tools of Growth, and where she currently teaches quarterly personal development classes. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, Harry. They are the proud parents of two adult children, Nitasha and Navin. Khetarpal enjoys reading, swimming, dancing, cooking, traveling, sunsets and sunrises, oceans, and nature. She is currently working on a line of children’s products that will promote self-understanding and emotional intelligence.
Read an Excerpt
The "Perfect" Parent
5 Tools for Using Your Inner Perfection to Connect with Your Kids
By Roma Khetarpal
Greenleaf Book Group PressCopyright © 2014 Roma Khetarpal
All rights reserved.
Honorable Parenting: Planting Self-Confidence
Confidence ... thrives on honesty, honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
—Franklin D. Roosevelt
"What a miracle!" These were the first words that came to my mind each time my miracles were born, at 7:36 a.m. on May 3, 1988, and at 7:17 a.m. on January 10, 1991. In fact, the words were not exactly thoughts but feelings that overflowed from my heart. I didn't really know what a miracle felt like before I had my kids.
In the United States alone, almost 11,000 miracles are born every day. And every day this miraculous feeling is experienced and these words are repeated some 11,000 times. I've felt it and said it, and so have you. Even if you are not a parent yet but are soon to be one, you already know that a miracle is on its way to you.
And the best part is that our miracles, our gifts from life, are not momentary or temporary—they're here to stay. They are gifts that we receive but also our gifts to give to—to love, to cuddle, to take care of, to nurture for years and years to come. From the moment they arrive, their very presence keeps us flowing. We know from the onset that we will spend a lifetime paying our love forward. We will guide these miracles, groom them, and help them grow. We are their first teachers. We will teach them to take their first steps. We will teach them their first words, including the magic words, please and thank you. We will teach them to get along with others. We will teach them to ride a bike for the very first time, and we will nurse their booboos when they fall. Most important, we will teach them resilience. We will teach them how to get up and go at it again.
We are not only their teachers; we are also their biggest fans, their protectors, and their guardians. I find it amazing that all the different roles we play in their lives are packed into one powerful word: parent. What's more amazing is that we assume this awesome responsibility willingly, even eagerly.
And yet too often we go through our family lives without giving this role much thought. This is not to say that we are not good role models for our kids but that we don't stop to give ourselves credit for this important commitment.
Let's face it: None of us knew what this ride would be like. We didn't know if we would have healthy children or not; moms didn't know how they would survive the birthing process; and dads didn't know if they had it in them to change a diaper or wake up and comfort a crying little one in the middle of the night. We simply stepped up and hoped for the best.
All along we had, and we continue to have, faith and trust in ourselves. We know we might not always succeed in every decision; we most definitely know that we will stumble many times along the way. But we always have some degree of confidence in ourselves, some conviction that we will get right back up and march forward. We never know what lies ahead, but somehow we have faith that we will make it through. If we didn't, we would not be able to commit to parenthood.
Parenthood is not just a conscious decision. It is also a subconscious commitment to protect our children in the most unselfish performance of our lives, and that commitment manifests itself as confidence. This confidence shines brightest when you—the parent—recognize and honor yourself.
We get no awards for parenthood, even when we do it well. It's not something we get paid for. It is a voluntary position, and volunteering for a lifetime of anything deserves a standing ovation. But to volunteer for a lifetime of responsibility for raising another human being ... Now that is worth honoring again and again and again. The only one who understands the depth of that kind of dedication is a parent—you.
You are dedicated to guiding your children and shaping them to be responsible adults as best as you can. But remember, while you are helping them grow their own wings, you, too, are growing as a person and a parent every day. You are devoted to this cause because you love your children.
Vedanta, the philosophical portion of the Hindu scriptures, says that love and devotion are the same in their nature but differ only in direction. In other words, I can say I love my kids, but I am devoted to parenting them. I can love them just the way I am, but to parent them means that I have to access my inner self, my higher self. I have to be aware. I have to be awake. I have to be willing to grow with them and for them in order to keep up with them.
I have to be truly present and willing to consciously practice that love with patience. I will be challenged, tested, and tried, I know—probably more times than I ever imagined. And yet I will rise above the challenges and do what is best for my child.
I also know that things will not always go my way. I acknowledge that what is best for my child might not be the best for me; it might not be the way that I wanted or the way that I had envisioned. And yet, if and when needed, I will go beyond my personal likes and dislikes to make things happen for my child. This has to be devotion. As often as we can, we want to do our best for our children. As parents, we are all devoted to this purpose, and such devotion is worthy not just of respect but even more so of honor.
When I talk about Honorable Parenting, I like to view the word honorable not just as a whole but also as its two components: honor and able. I like to think about it in the sense of "having the ability to honor" or, in other words, the ability to accept and respect.
Honorable Parenting, then, is first and foremost about having the ability to honor yourself for taking on this role. Understand and feel the depth of this devotion, and pat yourself on the back for doing the best that you can, every chance you get. Be your own cheerleader; applaud yourself for attempting to embark on this journey. And for those of you who have already been on this journey for a while, congratulate yourself for the great job that you have done thus far.
"But wait," you might be saying. "I've made so many mistakes!" Of course you have—we all have! That's the only way you can get better at it. Beating yourself up for mistakes you might have made will stall your own growth and, eventually, that of your children. If you commit to learn from your errors, however, you will also teach your kids how to recover, learn, and grow from theirs.
When we accept and respect ourselves and our role as parents, we practice Honorable Parenting. Only when we honor ourselves can we put into perspective the emotions and feelings that are attached to this role.
It's not always easy to do this in our everyday lives, particularly when we're confronted not only with our own personal roadblocks, but with the opinions and perspectives of others, too.
"My husband thinks I sit at home and eat bonbons!" complained one stay-at-home mom. She remarked sadly:
Little does he know what my day is like! I plan my whole day around the kids' schedules. Even when they are at school, I am busy! Laundry, cleaning, groceries, volunteering at school events, tending to the family needs ... I am constantly on the go, doing as much as I can. I know I signed up for this, but all it takes is one comment like, "How come you didn't have time to pick up the dry cleaning?" and I'm fuming! I start to feel bad and unappreciated.
Another mom mentioned to her friend, an attorney, that she had needed a break and had left her daughter with her mother and treated herself to a movie matinee. "Must be nice," said the attorney friend in a sarcastic tone of voice.
"I know that I willingly decided to be a stay-at-home mom after we started a family," the mom went on. "And yet I can't help feeling bad or guilty when my working-mom friends make comments like that."
Another mom, a marriage and family therapist who works part time, views the same issue from a different angle. "I don't feel so bad now. I thought only working moms like me felt guilty," she commented as she witnessed this exchange. "I love what I do. It's my passion. And I adore my son—he gives my life purpose. I can't pick one or the other. To feel whole, I have to do both. But to be honest, it's not without a ton of guilt."
Yes, as parents, our journey is filled with emotions like guilt, insecurity, and self-doubt. Often, sometimes unexpectedly, we are bombarded and confused by our own feelings about our decisions. We start to second-guess and doubt ourselves, even though we accept and respect our parenting role in theory. This is hardly unusual; it is parental nature to doubt oneself. Other people's questions about our decisions can hit an open nerve, and other people's comments can play into our emotions and make us feel guilty. So besides accepting and respecting our role as parents, another important part of honoring ourselves is dealing with our emotions; it helps us put issues to rest.
Say a dust storm hits your neighborhood, and you realize a half hour later that you have left a window open. Your first instinct, obviously, is to go and close that window. However, that is not all you do. You can't walk away from the room without cleaning up the dust that has blown in.
Similarly, even when we succeed overall in honoring our role as a parent, emotional storms sometimes leave a bit of a mess. By reminding yourself to honor yourself and your role as a parent, you have merely shut the window and stopped the dust from blowing in. However, the job is not complete until you sweep up the emotional dust that is left behind. It's a two-step process: First, you accept and respect your role. Then you must do what I call "Dealing with the Feeling," which we will discuss shortly. Together, these steps complete the process of becoming an honorable parent—one who has the ability to honor oneself completely, emotions included.
Before we dive into emotional management, we should quickly look at the role that emotions play in balancing communication.
Understanding Your Communication Balance
As we all know, emotions can create havoc with effective communication. If we don't manage our emotions, we allow our emotions to manage us. If we do manage our emotions, however, we can also manage our thoughts, our child's emotions, and, therefore, our response to the situation at hand.
Let's take a minute to understand how thoughts and feelings fit into the landscape of communication. We all have an inner communication landscape and an outer one, each dedicated to its own purpose. Your inner communication landscape is your internal dialogue—your thoughts and feelings. Your outer communication landscape, on the other hand, is how you express those thoughts and feelings externally, through words, behavior, tone of voice, and body language.
Our inner and outer communication landscapes are deeply connected to each other. What we say and how we behave depends on our feelings and thoughts. If we are not feeling and thinking positively about an issue, chances are it will not be long before those negative thoughts and feelings end up expressing themselves in speech and actions.
Think of your communication balance as a kind of seesaw.
When your inner communication landscape is balanced, your outer communication landscape improves as well:
Once you balance your thoughts and feelings, your expressions will follow accordingly, allowing for lasting effective communication. It is these balanced expressions that make an impression on the inner landscape of our children—on their thoughts and feelings. We all know when we are angry and say things harshly, our kids respond harshly—it's a communication breakdown! The negative energy behind our thoughts and feelings emerges in our expressions and reflects directly onto our children. As a result, they fight back and respond negatively too. What we put out is what we get back.
It is our job, as parents, to model effective communication for them. If we are upset about an issue and let our feelings take over before we approach our kids, we make ineffective communication a habit, and what overflows from our anger and harsh words is nothing other than the all too familiar emotions of guilt, doubt, worry, and fear. When these destructive aftermath emotions occur again and again, they hurt the self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence of our children as well—taking us far from our goal of building lasting healthy relationships with them.
Similarly, by overthinking things, we can let our intellect outweigh our emotions, with equally poor communication as a result. If we can get into the good habit of balancing our emotions and our thoughts, the result will be balanced expression, which will always lead to effective communication.
When my son was in the fourth grade, a friend shared some horror stories about her child's experience with a certain fifth-grade teacher. Naturally, this created an impression in my mind, and alarm bells rang when I found out the following year that my son would be in this teacher's class. Suddenly I was besieged by negative emotions and fears. But there was no other option, because there was no other class available. I did not want to taint my son's thoughts and feelings about this teacher, however. So almost every day I would beat around the bush, trying to gauge his opinion by asking him some indirect question: "How is Miss X?" I would ask. Or, "Is she a good teacher?" "Is she nice?" "Do you understand what she is teaching?"
A month into the school year, my son asked if I had met Miss X yet. "No," I answered.
"So how come you don't like her?" my smarty-pants wondered.
No matter how much we want to conceal our thoughts and feelings, they will always influence our expressions. We can't help it. Our thoughts and feelings are intertwined with our comments and our actions. Together they can help us move forward—or they can push us backward. But if we sort out and lighten the weight of those feelings, we can shift from thinking negatively to thinking positively. This will guide us in responding positively as well, which will bring communication back into balance.
My son had seen right through my doubts and reservations about Miss X. The next day, however, I came up with a great idea: I called a close family friend who also taught at that school and casually asked, "What do you think of Miss X?"
Her response? "She's a great teacher. Very experienced, very patient. Both my kids have been in her class. If Navin has her, he'll do well. It's a good fit."
This was the opposite of what I heard before, and it was information that came from a trusted source—information that could have saved me a great deal of worrying. Why hadn't I thought to call that friend earlier? Because I was too wrapped up in my emotions to think clearly! So then, what made me call her now?
I had turned to that wonderfully effective tool: Dealing with the Feeling.
In his research on emotional intelligence, Dr. Daniel Goleman has written that the emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than our thinking brain. It is obvious, then, that in order to think clearly and make decisions, we need to manage our emotions when they overtake us unexpectedly. Dealing with the Feeling lets us do just that.
Dealing with the Feeling
To balance the emotional part of your inner landscape, try three simple steps before moving to resolve an issue: 1. Spot it. 2. Say it. 3. Okay it.
What do I mean? First, spot it—identify the emotion that you are feeling. Literally ask yourself, "What am I feeling?" In the case of the schoolteacher, my answer was fear.
Next, say the emotion out loud and expand on it. I said to myself, "I am afraid because my son has ended up with this teacher whom I have not heard good things about."
Finally, okay it. That is, validate the feeling. "It's okay for me to feel this way," I went on. "I'm only looking out for my son's best interest."
Now you're ready to solve the problem. If you're stuck, talk out the solution, either in your head or with someone you trust. Either way, by following the three steps above, you will be able to rise above the fog of confusing emotions. Your thinking brain will kick in, and you will be able to think a little more clearly. Then you'll be able to move toward resolving the issue more objectively and less emotionally.
When I put my feelings about Navin's teacher in perspective, I was better equipped to make an intelligent decision about my next step, and that's when my teacher friend came to mind. I had been too emotionally tangled up to have thought about her earlier.
When you complete the three steps—spot it, say it, and okay it—you're turning down the volume of your emotions and inviting your thoughts to participate in the problem-solving process. Dealing with the Feeling helps us manage our inner communication landscape by bringing it back into balance. This simple practice assists us in accessing our innate intelligence, empowering us and leading us to resolve any issue we might face. It also helps us build good, effective communication skills. Dealing with the Feeling is a foundational practice that leads us to the larger goal of building a strong relationship with our kids.
Excerpted from The "Perfect" Parent by Roma Khetarpal. Copyright © 2014 Roma Khetarpal. Excerpted by permission of Greenleaf Book Group Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Foreword Julie Watson xi
Get Ready for a Parenting Makeover 11
Tool #1 Honorable Parenting: Planting Self-Confidence 31
Tool #2 Approachable Parenting: Growing Trust 61
Tool #3 Sensible Parenting: Nurturing Connections 87
Tool #4 Reasonable and Responsible Parenting: Branching Out through Understanding 123
Tool #5 Enjoyable and Memorable Parenting: Reaping the Fruits 149
The "Perfect" Parent Toolbox 181
Recommended Reading 191
About the Author 207