1. Build a strong support network
Studies show that a good support system or network, featuring strong relationships and ties you can depend on, is vitally important for family health and wellbeing. It also provides that grounding we need, to give us the platform we can spring from, and fly.
Your support network will usually start with your home family unit, building out to include wider family, friends, childcare providers, your community and anyone else you trust and identify shared values with.
Whether it’s the fertility world – join our amazing free Fertility Squad community now, for bags of support – or your LGBTQ+ community, therapists or healthcare pros, create a picture of who everyone is, what you can rely on them for, and ways to stay in contact.
2. Make room for questions
It’s difficult to feel proud, if you’re coming at it from a place of awkwardness or taboo. By laying a foundation of honesty, at home, with plenty of time and space for questions, we’re helping our kids feel strong, with a super-tight family unit to back them up.
Making space for questions is also a crucial way of showing our kids we respect them, and their right to know their amazing story. And remember, younger kids won’t have a pre-conceived (so-to-speak) view on donor conception. Trust them to absorb their origins as just a part of their story, approach their questions with confidence, and watch their sense of pride grow.
3. Get out of their way …
Whether you’re a first time parent, a parent of donor-conceived children, something else (or all of the above), ‘helicoptering’ can become a habit. And lots of us do it completely unconsciously.
When we helicopter, we’re over-focusing on our children, often finding it difficult to give them space to try, fail and learn.
Helicopter parenting can range from being nervous about the child’s physical exploration, to a focus on their schoolwork or social interactions. But to take pride in themselves, kids need the freedom to develop and grow, without constant interference or correction.
It can be difficult to let go – we know – but try to reframe it. You’re not letting go, you’re empowering them to develop self confidence, skills, esteem and pride – always present, even if it means taking a back bench at the playground.
4 … but be a safety net
You can get out of their way, but equally important is knowing and sensing when to step in, intervene, advocate and keep them safe. This enables and empowers pride, strengthening our bond with our children, grounding them in the knowledge that as their parents, we’re there for them 100%.
A good example might be with a childcare provider, who isn’t aware of your child’s donor-conceived story, or a healthcare provider your family is struggling to get support from. Depending on your child’s age and situation, being their safety net allows them to head into the world, with a strong sense of self-esteem.
5. Model your pride
If 80% of parenting is modelling (that’s the estimate), how can we use this to our advantage, when filling our kids with a sense of pride?
Modelling is all about setting examples, doing as you say and demonstrating key behaviours and life skills for your kids.
So if we shout a lot and are quick to flare up (yep, we all do it), our kids are more likely to see, pick up and replay this behaviour, as they develop. Modelling breathing in and out for ten seconds, laughing at life’s craziness and kindness, for example, are behaviours we may be more keen for our kids to pick up.
Ask yourself these questions, to start building the behaviours that root your family in pride:
- do they see me knowing when to speak up, and when to listen?
- do they see me surrounding myself with a strong support network?
- do they see me taking an interest in our world?
- do they see me asking questions?
- do they see me advocating and empathising?
- do they see me reaching for the stars, learning and building the life I want?