The Secret Sauce to Successful Parenting

Interview with Abigail Wald for the Women in STEM, Reimagined masterclass.

If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely you’ve had some success in your life. Maybe you’ve got a masters degree or a doctorate. Have landed a job and maybe even already moved up a bit. It’s only natural you want your kids to succeed, too.

Yet, sometimes you feel like you’re failing as a mother. That you just can’t live up to your own standards. I interviewed Abigail Wald about how women in STEM can feel good about their role as a mother.

Being a “Good” Mother

Abigail gets that you want to excel both at work and at home. She says that underneath that desire is a person who’s committed to excellence. The best question to ask yourself is “How can I have that, but with a growth mindset?”

Growth mindset means that you give it your best, keep improving, but also allow yourself to sometimes bump up against your limitations or fall short of your ideals. Without beating yourself up over it, but rather knowing that this is how everyone learns and grows – even as a parent.

The second thing to get curious about are silent promises. These are promises we made to ourselves, often as a child: “When I grow up, I will…” And even though they may not be on the forefront of your mind, they could weigh you down when you feel like you’re not keeping them. Abigail urges you not to beat yourself up over that. Self-compassion is key here.

Well-Behaved Children

That’s all nice and good – growth mindset, self-compassion… But how do you get your toddler in the car without them throwing a tantrum, because you have to go to work?

The secret sauce is building connection, says Abigail.

She explains that the behaviour we’re after is a byproduct of the relationship we have with our child. We don’t create proper behaviour so we can have the relationship that we want. But we’re building a relationship so that we have the ability to bring out that behaviour that we want to see in our child. That the child seeks out our guidance.

A simple example to illustrate this when you’re running yourself ragged “doing all the things”: cooking, doing the laundry, keeping the house clean, driving them to soccer practice and so on. And are they thanking you for it? The key here is to not just do the things, but to truly be with the children. Having that connection, so they appreciate all you’re doing.

(The same applies to work, by the way. You can do all the right things, but they won’t matter if you’re not connected to your team members, your peers, your boss and build that ‘know, like, trust’ factor.)

And it doesn’t take a ton of time either. There are quick ways to supercharge connection. Small moments sprinkled throughout the day work wonders.

One tactic you can use is “special time”. Abigail explains that this is time for a quick little, active practical thing to do with your kid. Anything they want to do (if it’s safe and legal). Give them the choice and then do whatever they want with them. Make sure to be really present and “in it” with them (no coffee, no phone). How long are these child-led explorations? It can be 5 minutes, 30 minutes you decide when and how long, your child decides what you do together.

Missed Women in STEM, Reimagined? 

Abigail Wald is your mentor for a radically bold and uniquely loving approach to parenthood. She translates the neuroscience of attachment into actionable strategies, so you know exactly how to handle it when your toddler throws the quesadilla on the floor just because you cut it wrong. Connect with Abigail on LinkedIn here.

Dr. Nicole Tschierske is a positive psychology coach who helps women in STEM get noticed in their company so they attract their next opportunity with total ease.

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