Gary John Bishop is a leading personal development expert and the New York Times bestselling author of Unfu*k Yourself, Stop Doing That Sh*t, Do the Work, Wise As Fu*k, and Love Unfu*ked. His “urban philosophy” approach represents a new wave of personal empowerment and life mastery that has led to miraculous results in the quality and performance of people’s lives.
Below, Gary John Bishop shares three key insights from his new book, Grow Up: Becoming the Parent Your Kids Deserve. Listen to the audio version—read by Gary himself—in the Next Big Idea App.
Life is confusing enough without my attempting to add to the myriad of things we have to make sense of in our day-to-day lives! My approach to life is simple, direct, and, at times challenging and confronting. Why confronting? Because I like to frequently take on our most precious ancient artifacts: our point of view. Our story, current truths, beliefs, and narratives run the cyclical script in our minds. The funny thing about that is we don’t see how sensitive we are about preserving that stuff, no matter how painful, until it finally gets questioned. Then we fight for it. And in the process, fight for our pain.
We need to focus on changing who we are as parents rather than another forlorn attempt at changing what we do in the role. Why not focus on what we do? Because that’s been done before. I’ve been hearing a lot both in traditional and social media about the notion of breaking a “generational chain.” This means raising the next generation of adults in an environment that is both unique and independent of the last one. It seems to get a lot of traction with parents who may not have had the kind of childhood they thought was beneficial to them.
However, there is a certain arrogance in believing this generation is the only one to make this attempt. The reality is that every generation has tried to make the next one better than the last. And yet here we are. Still trying. Why do we fail? Because we make circumstantial change in the absence of substantial change.
What I’d like to lay out for you here are three critical areas that I’ve tackled and would like to give you a sense of them so, without further ado, let’s get into it.
1. The past will come up while parenting in the present.
You simply cannot forge a new and lasting future without being complete with your past. Yes, that includes all the stuff that you might say you are over or insist doesn’t bother you, all the way through to ghosts from a bygone era that you just have never managed to get rid of. From the horrific to the mundane and everything in between, all of it plays out in your attempts at being a parent.
For anyone to wipe the slate clean, one must begin by examining not only how they themselves were parented but look into the same process for their parents too. The reality is that everyone walks out of their childhood with something to overcome. It actually becomes the foundation for life to be lived. You did, your parents did, and your children will. We basically parent in one of two ways: either the way we were parented or the opposite of that. If there is such a thing as a generational chain, that’s it right there.
2. We have a real-life addiction to blame.
It’s simply impossible to free yourself from even the least invasive feelings of regret, resentment, frustration, or anger AND hold onto your view of who is to blame for it, even if that blame is directed toward yourself.
“The reality is that everyone walks out of their childhood with something to overcome.”
We need to take a deep dive into the nature of blame, why we do it, and, most importantly, how to free ourselves from this easy-to-come-by solution to life. When you include the inauthenticity and downright hypocrisy of insisting our children move past their upsets while holding onto our own, it’s not hard to see why this generational thing is cemented deep into our subconscious. We forward it blindly because we quite simply do not understand it.
3. The burdens we face as parents are twofold.
The first burden is our concern for screwing the job up in such a way that our children somehow suffer or are damaged by what we do or don’t do. It can stretch to the extent that we become parents-on-eggshells. All of this comes from a primary pretense though, i.e. the illusion that we’re supposed to know what we’re doing. That’s right, we pretend we’ve got it together and we do that pretending mostly with our children. I mean, they can’t see through this stuff…right? Like you couldn’t see through your own parents’ schtick? That all brings us to the solution.
What would it take for you to shed yourself of every hang-up, trigger, and “should be” in favor of something a little more grounded, real, and powerful? Authentic parenting? That’s what we’re doing here! Freedom to be and act in a way that actually makes a difference in the lives of everyone involved. Including you!
The second burden is seeing yourself in terms of three generations. By doing so, you reveal the mechanism that ties your parents, you, and your children together. It is then, and only then, that you will discover the pathway to parenting unlike any you have seen before. This pathway leaves the past where it belongs and keeps your hands firmly on the wheel of designing the kind of impact you would love to have on your own kids. Rather than simply re-inventing your parenting, you need to reinvent who you are as the child of parents, too. That’s not a path all people would like to or even feel like they can follow, but perhaps that’s because there is a static idea of what that would even look like.
To listen to the audio version read by author Gary John Bishop, download the Next Big Idea App today: