Parenting Yourself First
Parenting can be one of the most challenging journeys we will ever take. It’s a 24-7 type of commitment for the rest of our lives and a journey that can bring up all sorts of emotions, especially if we have unresolved stuff from our own childhood. Parenting can be also very rewarding and an opportunity to grow and heal the wounds from our experiences growing up and in our relationship with our parents and ourselves. It can expand our comfort zone and allow us to become the adult that our children need us to be while taking care of our inner child.
Like many parents, I tend to become so caught up in my own agenda and the emotions that arise from being a woman trying to show up for everything: being a mother, a wife, a professional, a daughter and a friend, that I miss to see my kids wanting to “take their time” as opportunities to slow dawn in my own day, my kids “asking questions” as opportunities to teach them something new and share my experiences with them. In the midst of the business of my days sometimes I miss taking a look at my own frustration and feelings of guilt and shame when I lose my patience or my sadness when I provide my children an opportunity for growth that I didn’t have as a child.
Reality is that our culture promotes “doing” more than “being” and often times we just get so caught up in our own rush and peruse to achieve and get things done that there is little time and space to check in with ourselves and connect to our inner child, our children and others around us. Reality is that we can’t give what we don’t have, we can’t teach our children what we don’t know and we can’t be really present for our kids when we are not connected to what’s arising within ourselves. In other words, we need to be aware of our own feelings, thoughts about what it means to be a parent, the views we have on parenting and our own feelings about the way we were parented in order to be fully parents to our children. This doesn’t mean we need to be perfect or go to therapy in order to raise healthy children. What this means is that we need to be present, aware and willing to see ourselves while we parent or kids. If our children see us constantly displacing our feelings onto others, blaming them and not taking any responsibility, this is how they will live, too. It doesn’t matter if you say the right words. You need to walk the talk!
So in order to parent our children we need to find the areas that we need to heal first. Our feelings will show us those areas through our emotions as well as the reactions we have to our children’s behaviors. We can only accept our children to the degree that we accept ourselves. When we can’t accept our children as they are it’s because they touch places that are still soft and vulnerable for us. Unless we learn how to accept ourselves and be honest about what we are feeling we can’t raise children that are able to deal with their emotions without feeling overwhelmed by them. We don’t need to have it all figure out, but we do need to be aware of what’s happening in our inner world and willing to work on emotions and behaviors that are on the way of positive parenting. Remember that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood by reconnecting to your inner child and parenting yourself first!