Many of us grew up believing that vulnerability was a bad thing, a dangerous exposure of self to be avoided at all costs. Having children can inspire a change of heart around this belief.
Being vulnerable can bring such an open heart to parenting that it is worth exploring. If you parent from a guarded place of protection, you also guard yourself from the closeness that you desire with your children. Hiding your vulnerability denies your children the opportunity to see you as a fully alive and imperfect — yet loving — human being.
Requiring so much hiding out, guarding yourself from vulnerability can be exhausting.
Pamela Dunn, author of It’s Time to Look Inside, refers to vulnerability as being “open hearted.”
She says that by allowing ourselves to fully feel afraid when fear rises in us, we get to experience our open heart and vulnerability as strength.
There are many times you may feel afraid as a parent — when your infant gets sick, when your child is afraid, when your toddler falls or when he goes off to school on his own. Fully feeling the fear and letting it go will allow you to handle those scary situations from a place of solid strength. You will be modeling vulnerability for your children, a heart-opening experience for them in which they will learn how to handle scary situations, too.
In Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown wrote, “Vulnerability sounds like the truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”
She also wrote, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
If you want creativity, love, courage, belonging and joy for your children, it begins with your willingness to be vulnerable. It begins with your willingness to be seen in all of your “flawsomeness” — your beautifully flawed awesomeness. Children don’t want perfection from their parents. They want authenticity. Take baby steps towards vulnerability. Your children will love what they see!