How do your parents show up in your parenting? Are you parenting the child within the parent?
I want you to really think about this. Consider journaling on it after you finish reading this article.
Maybe it’s the crying or the perceived chaos of children playing, that sets you off.
Perhaps it’s having to ask your kid to do something – more than once.
Or maybe it’s being asked for clarification that provokes the feeling of being ‘questioned’ by your child, which rings the alarm.
Things left unresolved can show up in SO many ways, for everyone – not just parents/caregivers.
And though it can be uncomfortable at times, doing the work allows us to authentically show up for our kids – and for ourselves. It allows us to fully see and respect our child as their own person and mitigates the damage caused by the endless power struggles, which leave our kids lacking adequate support, and our present-day self, riddled with guilt.
It allows us to demonstrate the very things we hope to foster in our children, like having a healthy sense of self.
It minimizes the use of guilt and shame as ways to get our kids to behave in a certain way.
It grows us, the parents, as we challenge our own thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors in order to soothe our young selves, and put an end to the cycle ultimately.
Growing up, my parents and I had an obvious power imbalance. The idea of ‘validating’ the stuff going on inside my kid self, was non-existent. I was a child after all; what could possibly be going on with me that was bigger or even as important as what they had going on?
Sound or feel familiar?
Were they doing their best? Sure, but when you know better, you do better.
I try hard to keep this one statement at the forefront of my mind when interacting with my girls:
If you wouldn’t talk to an adult like that, quit talking to your kid like that.
We can be so quick to dismiss their experience of the many moments of their young lives. We may not even bat an eye before publicly embarrassing them – under the guise of that’s the only way they ‘get it’. And though we might truly be doing our absolute best, regular occurrences like these, signal so many things – strengthening our self-regulation muscle being one of them.
So, how do we make lasting change that deepens our connection to our kids and enriches our experience as a parent? The kind of change that results in our kids doing even a little better than us in adulthood?
In order to heal, we must first become aware of our stuck points. Journalling is an excellent place to start. Though journalling on its own won’t completely remedy the challenges we feel – it is a phenomenal tool to gain insight and clarity. This awareness is a crucial prerequisite to our healing. It’s like the YOU ARE HERE marker on a mall map.
This one seems to be a tricky one, especially if you grew up in a culture that places very little value on spending to better your mental health.
Working with a coach for instance (ahem ahem), will enable you to become aware of your blind spots (because let’s face it, we all have ‘em), and to formulate a plan consisting of small actionable steps, to help get you to your goal. Not only might the process feel easier than taking the DIY route, but you will also progress quicker than you would, going at this solo.
Practice showing yourself grace.
This parenting gig and life, in general, can feel hard enough on its own – let alone having to now, sort through all the things you had no idea or plan to sort through.
You are worthy of honoring your needs.
You deserve it.
Your kids do, too. Show them better.
Nina is a former Social Worker (MSW), turned SAHM, turned certified Life Coach — and coming this fall, a children’s book author. She is committed to helping parents connect with the kids they have, and heal the kid they once were. Her loves include; her daughters, their cat, leggings, nature, cooking, baking… and pizza!