Parenting. How do we know how?
I think the truth is that we often don't really know how to parent, or how to be the parent that we thought we were going to be. Some of us draw upon strategies that our own parents used, while some of us want to change and be a different parent than how we were parented. Personally, I fall into the latter category and prior to becoming a Momma, I thought that would be easy. I knew what I didn't want to be, and so, I wouldn't be that ... right? Wrong! So wrong!
When my girls push the limits and when they don't listen, I escalate quickly. Staying calm during these moments of stress, is tough for me. I work hard on staying calm, but there is always this inside part of me that wants to scream and make it all stop. I want everyone to stop and do as I say. I want them to stop simply because I said so. The problem with this approach is that it has no consideration for my girls, and the feelings that they are experiencing. I would be shutting them down if I told them to do-as-I-say right dead smack in the middle of their emotional outbursts. They are entitled to "feel" and they are entitled to have "emotional outbursts" (they are growing children!). I want my home to be safe, and I want them to be able to have freedom to express without fear. I know what I want, but why was it (and still is at times) so hard to create that space?
The reason is linked back to instincts. You know that saying, "trust your instincts"? Well, it might not always be a good idea to trust those instincts. In fact, you may have to fight (hard) against your instincts to make the right decision. Your instincts are related to how you were treated in similar situations growing up. So, if you were raised in a home that was not emotionally stable and with little room for emotional outbursts, you may find yourself reacting to your children's outbursts in a similar way that I was doing. The beauty here is being aware of how you want to parent, and recognizing when you are not parenting the way you want to be. Take a look at the situation, think about your past, and think about how your emotions were dealt with as a child. If there's a pattern there that you find yourself repeating, and you feel embarrassed that you said (or did) what you never said you would do, you may need to fight against your instincts to stop the cycle.
None of us is perfect and all of us make mistakes. All of us lose our marbles, regardless of how we were parented - it's normal! However, I write this blog for the folks who struggle with their children's emotions. Remember, it's normal for children to test boundaries, push buttons, fight with their siblings, and have extreme highs and lows. It's part of their development and growth. If your instincts tell you to stop this behaviour and shut it down "just because you said so", you need to fight your instincts and take a deep breath.
Be the best you can be, never stop self-reflecting, and remember that it's ok to make mistakes.
Please share my blog with anyone who is trying to stop the cycle of their past and be the parent they know they want to be. It's difficult when you don't have instincts to rely on - kind of like having an empty tool box. Knowing that their instincts aren't reliable, might just be the first step to becoming the parent they want to be.
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