Leave your emotional junk out of your kids’ lives August 24, 2015 – Posted in: Advice, Leaders and Teams, Relationships – Tags: childhood, children, family, parenting
When I first became a mum in 2004 my own childhood came into stark relief and I realised in a fresh way just how painful and traumatic much of my early years had been. With this in mind I became driven to do it differently with my own children to the point where I became a perfectionist about my parenting. One cross word from me to my daughter and I felt an immediate avalanche of guilt and shame. This guilt and shame then caused me to either overcompensate with her or push the pain I felt over my inability to be perfectly calm all the time inwards and continue the ongoing cycle of abusive self-talk. It was not healthy and I was not the best parent I could be because I was held back by so much negativity and fear about my abilities. I was permanently rating myself and my efforts – it was exhausting!
My intention to give my children a lovely childhood was a good intention. My methods, however, were very wonky. I had to learn a new way.
Where I’d gone wrong in the past was to try and fight against what I’d experienced as a child. I was out to prove something and probably to try and fix myself (and my feelings about my own childhood) by doing it differently with my own kids. I was operating from a place of fear with a good dose of pride and bewilderment thrown in too. I was a lovely mum but I couldn’t see it or allow myself to relax into it due to the negativity I was operating under.
Things are different today – very, very different.
Today, I’ve learnt that the way to stop something or change something isn’t to fight it but to practice the opposite behaviour. So rather than saying, “I won’t do it like ‘them’,” I ask myself how I would like to be or behave and I practice doing it. For example, rather than saying, “I won’t ever shout at my children,” I try to practice lowering my voice. My focus is then on developing a new behaviour rather than fighting an old one.
It really works!
The other thing I did was invest in a long stretch of therapy, which was what I needed to be able to come to terms with what I’d experienced as a kid and accept that we’re all doing our best with the tools we’ve been given. My daughters and I continue to reap the rewards of this crucial period in my life.
I wish you joy and freedom in your journey as a parent.