Parenting & Fulfillment: Embracing the “Being” of Parenthood

What does it really mean to be a mother or a father? What is the true definition of these roles? Can we still nurture and give life, even if we aren’t parents in the traditional sense?

Embracing parenthood as our children grow.


 

Do we need to put our own personal growth on hold while we’re nurturing our children?

It’s no secret parenting is an emotional and in-depth experience. It’s a rollercoaster—a series of ups and downs. Often parents look back on the first years of their child’s life as a blur. We wonder if we did everything wrong. We may even feel like our own needs were put on hold or overlooked during those first years raising kids.

To understand why this is, we must explore the roles of mother and father.

When we hear words like “mother” and “feminine,” we think of emotional, nurturing qualities, especially as they pertain to our roles as parents. Motherhood is the very being of the parental role. “Father” and “masculine” might bring up opposite images—someone who DOES, rather than is. Father goes out, he obtains things to fulfill the needs of his family. He provides.

Now obviously in today’s world these normative gender roles no longer apply as rigidly as they once did, but there’s still a masculine and feminine component. Fathers today can be very nurturing, emotional and caring. Mother might be a high-powered executive and the sole breadwinner for the family, but at the core, parenting requires both the “being” AND the “doing” sides of the coin.

Male and female personality types aren’t cut and dry along gender lines either. Co-parenting and raising children as a family unit, rather than just “being” in the mother role is becoming the norm as we move into a more evolved and modern viewpoint.

Still, there are certain qualities that are assigned to parenting by the very nature of the role—nurturing, growing, connecting and evolving right alongside our children (or our projects, whatever “creation” we give birth to), whether we fall into the traditional roles of father and mother or something else.


Being a parent to the fullest extent is about BEING. It is through being that we can use parenting as a platform for our own personal growth as well as the growth of our children. We cannot simply “do” parenting; we have to BE a parent.


Emotion and the “Doing” of Parenting

Every parent knows there’s a lot of “doing” as a parent, particularly at first—there’s tossing dirty diapers in the trash, warming up bottles, feeding, sleeping, washing, and so much more. While these things involve some nurture and care, they’re definitely process-involved.

Sometimes within the processes of doing parenting, we can forget we also need to embrace the being. The “being” is vital to our own social emotional growth.

As parents, and particularly as mothers, we might forgo our own desires and yearnings to meet the desires of our children. Years pass, and when our kids are grown or have moved beyond the stage where they need constant attention, we might find ourselves less fulfilled, even empty. We might wonder why we spent so much time ignoring our own needs while we focused on the needs of those around us.

During my graduate study work (and in my own journey as a parent), I closely explored this role of motherhood and the dichotomy of being constantly “needs focused” and yet forgoing one’s own needs.

On the purely practical level, there are the basic functions of the job of mothering—feeding, dressing, changing diapers, maintaining nap and sleeping schedules, etc.—that require a significant amount of time for the woman engaged in mothering, especially in the early years. One might assume a woman’s facility with her emotions is not significant in these day-to-day happenings, but that would be a limiting assumption. –Excerpt from my dissertation, Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering (pg. 21)

At the core of motherhood and through these practical actions, there’s a great deal of emotion, but these emotions are often undervalued by society, and even by the parents who are experiencing them.

Even from the first moments of being a parent,

she is confronted by her fear and scarcity/survival about being strong enough, or capable enough to birth and feed her baby. She will need to be in a relationship with herself, allowing past fears and beliefs that she is “not enough” to come to the surface for healing, acknowledge that she actually is capable and move to trust—in both herself and those supporting her. Not only will she achieve the desired outcome more effectively she will have experienced it as a fulfilling here and now moment. –Excerpt from my dissertation, Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering (pg. 18)

Experiencing Growth Together

Parenting can be both frightening and fulfilling. It can dredge up much of our past and our beliefs about ourselves—the doubts, the feelings of, “I have no idea what I’m doing,” and the fears can become almost palpable as we try to raise our children.

At the core of becoming a fulfilled parent is embracing our own personal growth alongside the growth of our children. The amazing thing about children is that they can become our model for how we can go forth and view the world. Children are always open to new experiences. They approach each day as a new adventure. They experience wonder and awe every day.

How wonderful for each of us, if we could learn to apply the same approach! By working through our fears and limiting beliefs, we not only discover and engage, but also thrive and evolve, not only as parents but also as individuals.

Parenting Workshops

The Wright Foundation offers several parenting workshops, including our popular weekend family adventure retreats where parents can spend time with their children and apply the skills they’re learning to their parenting.

By expanding our own social and emotional intelligence and doing our personal growth work, we parents can look back on the years of raising our children as years of fulfillment and joy. We can fully engage and live with intentionality and purpose. Rather than simply “doing what it takes” to parent, we can BE what it takes to parent.

At the very core of parenting is a need to embrace, rather than shirk your emotional side. You must feel your emotions fully and understand your yearnings and innermost desires. Fulfillment isn’t something parents must forgo, it can be found within the act of parenting itself.

For more information on our weekend workshops or opportunities for personal growth at Wright, please visit the Wright Foundation website.


About the Author

Gertrude Lyons

Gertrude Lyons is a human emergence coach and adjunct faculty member at Wright Graduate University. Her academic career spans from a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting, a master’s in psychology from Antioch University, and a newly completed doctoral degree from WGU. Gertrude is a wife and mother of two and resides in Chicago, IL where she continues to learn, grow, and develop her skills as a human emergence coach with the Wright team.


Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Portions of this post are taken from Gertrude’s doctoral dissertation, Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering—A Curriculum Evaluation Study.

Finding Happiness
as a Mother

At Wright, we like to focus on the age-old saying, “If mama isn’t happy, nobody’s happy!”

Can motherhood bring joy? Learn to find happiness as a mother.


 

When I was a graduate student at Wright Graduate University, I wrote my dissertation on Expanding Mothering: Raising a Woman’s Awareness of the Opportunities for Personal and Psychosocial Growth and Development in Mothering—A Curriculum Evaluation Study.

A mother of two daughters myself, to say the program and my EdD journey was a profound personal exploration would be an understatement. The program and my studies deepened my relationship with my daughters, as well as my sense of self.

As a coach for sixteen years, I’ve seen time and again the way parenting can both halt and expand personal growth, particularly motherhood. (Although fatherhood isn’t without its own set of growth opportunities.) Mothers, as caretakers, are often balancing what Dr. Judith Wright refers to as the Trifecta of Mothering—mothering children, mothering career and interests, and mothering yourself.

It’s not hard to guess which area is often avoided, put on the back burner, or hidden away during our years as young mothers.

For myself personally, this was the case—I found that I avoided my own emotions, needs and yearnings, often deferring to the needs of my children and my clients, rather than caring for myself and doing my own personal growth work.

Through my doctoral studies at Wright, my coaches, advisors and allies were able to help me reawaken this sense of myself and stir within me the strong desire to help fellow mothers and women in my life stop delaying their own yearnings.

The Parenting Program at Wright

The parenting program at Wright takes foundational work…and brings it to focus in the arena of parenting.

In this program, students engage in coaching and training that are deeply rooted in proven theories and methodologies—most particularly Adlerian psychology and methodology.

Dr. Bob Wright has designed parent and child weekend training programs that are laboratories for parents and their children to live the Wright Integrative Model. These fun, structured weekends give a safe place to really strengthen parent connections and apply insights to parenting skills.

On these weekends, parents are challenged to look at what they are satisfied with, or not, in their role as a parent. Mothers receive training and learn skills on how to engage with their children so they are satisfied and have the opportunity to practice those skills immediately on that weekend with the support of other mothers and facilitators.

Wright parenting also includes family system analysis, which fosters deep understanding of the current family system and coaching to bring out the best in each member of the system. Everyone has a different role within the family unit, and it’s important to understand how these roles play out and where they can lead.

The Wright parenting model uses the rare approach of focusing always on the mother’s own self-improvement and having her practice at the task of mothering. In doing so, the Wright model is a framework based on mutuality, focusing on the mother-child dyad and specifically on the mother’s growth and learning in the process.

It charges the mother with becoming aware of her own emotional manifestations and to focus on her own satisfaction, all the while clearing the limiting beliefs that underlie less than optimal thought, feeling, and behavior patterns.

In this new model of raising children, the mother is engaged in her own growth and development as she also nurtures the development of her child. This personal growth focus empowers her to “grow up” with her child(ren)—what the transactional analysis theorists refer to as re-parenting herself.

SOFIA Women’s Program

Founded in 1990 by Judith Wright, SOFIA – the Society of Femininity in Action – is the Wright Foundation’s program for women. Members of SOFIA are trained in feminine leadership harnessing the power of values based in feminine principles such as caring, beauty, cooperation, and feelings at the same time honoring masculine principles as the support to get things done.

In the trainings and curriculum of SOFIA women are exposed to the following concepts: the state of feminine values in our world, the way we as women get in our own way of valuing feminine gifts, an exploration of the limiting behaviors that keep us from becoming who we were meant to be, inspiring examples of women who have broken through the mold to create lives of meaning and purpose, and context about emotional charges and responsible expression.

For a woman who is engaged in personal growth and transformation, it is critical she aligns with her feminine values as they are the medium for a deeper connection with her most genuine self. This is incredibly challenging in our culture that values masculine principles over feminine. SOFIA does not propose one is better than the other, rather it shares with women a vision of the two forces working powerfully together for fulfilling and productive outcomes.

It is through the women’s training and curriculum developed by Dr. Wright that a woman is exposed to new ways of thinking of herself in the world.

One concept, in particular, that was introduced to women at the seminar was that because they are women they are already mothers. A woman does not have to birth a child to be a mother when mothering is seen as a feminine quality and something all women share.

A woman can best manifest herself in her full feminine when she uses masculine values to accomplish her deeper desire. Wright calls it, “using the masculine in service of the feminine.” A simple example would be where a woman is in touch with her feminine value of beauty and she uses the masculine value of results and orders flowers to be delivered monthly to her office.

Embracing Our Role as Women

Many times women might feel their status of “motherhood” IS their identity. While motherhood of self, career or children (or a combination) is a powerful role, it’s only a part of who we really are at our core. Our potential goes beyond simply nurturing and caring for others.

As we explore our relationships with others and ourselves, it’s important to look both internally and externally—to gain inspiration and engage with our children, but not to live through them; to be examples of women leading fuller and more expressive and engaged lives; to be leaders and find strength within our femininity.

Doing your own personal growth work and exploration is fundamental to uncovering our full potential. If you’re seeking a deeper fulfillment, a stronger connection with those around you, or even to find the power within your role as a mother and nurturer, the Wright parenting program is unparalleled.


If you’re ready to explore these themes, please contact us at Wright. You can work with a life coach to help discover your path and articulate your vision. For more information, please visit us at wrightliving.com.


About the Author

Gertrude Lyons

Gertrude Lyons is a human emergence coach and adjunct faculty member at Wright Graduate University. Her academic career spans from a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Accounting, a master’s in psychology from Antioch University, and a newly completed doctoral degree from WGU. Gertrude is wife and mother of two and resides in Chicago, IL where she continues to learn, grow, and develop her skills as a human emergence coach with the Wright team.


Loving the content and want more? Follow Judith on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Liked this post and want more? Sign up for updates – free!

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.