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A few days ago, I had a heart to heart moment with the youngest of my two daughters - who is one of the oldest ones of my bunch. This came about because I came to the realization, that from all of my kids, she is the one that needs the least amount of stuff from me. She is self-sufficient, reliable, always in a great mood, and very even tempered...seems like the perfect kid, huh? But, when I remember how she was as a baby, I realized that this was not how she came to this world.
For starters she was born colicky. She cried and cried for hours, and days without end... She was an emotional child - and I don't mean this in a bad way, but in that way, that when she feels something, she feels it in her soul. She was one of those babies who was tough as nails, but also gentle as a butterfly.
Now, self reliant and practical, the traces of that emotional baby are long gone. She no longer shares her feelings with me - or anyone else for the matter. She is excellent in terms of helping her baby brothers when they need her to hold them, cuddle caress or care for them: but her emotions are bottled up tight and held in the safe of her heart. She does not share them with anyone...and you know, this makes me sad. I think that a lot of times we adults don't care for ourselves in the proper way, because we have learned to bottle our emotions.
Where did they go? I'll tell you. I tucked them away. You see. When she was a baby. She cried so much and was so full of emotion that I didn't know how to handle it. She was one of those kids that cried all of the time...and I didn't know how to deal with it. You see, I was taught that there is no reason for children to cry. I was taught that crying was bad, and that if a child's needs are met (food, clothing, toys, etc.) that there is no reason for them to cry. I would tell her to stop crying. I would scream at her because she seemed to cry all day long. Non stop. Most days it would drive me crazy and I would become angry with her. Now after a few years, she is older, I am wiser, and have learned how to become more patient, and have become very aware that crying is a sign of a need, not something to become annoyed with. I have realized the harm that I did during that time, by not allowing her to feel free to feel her feelings...I made her bottle them up. So where is the heart to heart you ask?
Well, a few days ago, while I was making breakfast we were having a talk - about random stuff. Food. Her brothers. The day. Nothing in particular. And she tells me that she remembers being a baby, and me putting glove things, on her hands because she used to scratch her face. She was months old when this used to happen. So I asked her. "Do you remember crying a lot, when you were a baby?" Her response, "Yup. I used to want you to pick me up." Folks. My heart sank! My little baby, only wanted to be held...and back then I, didn't listen to my heart, I listened to people tell me that I should not pick her up a lot, because she would become spoiled, and would want to be held all day...this, BTW still breaks my heart to know. Anyhow, I told her that I was sorry. I told her that I was sorry that I didn't hold her more then. That I was sorry that she has learned to feel that her emotions are supposed to be buried deep within. And I told her that I take responsibility for her thinking that way. And that I promise to always, be available for her, and that I will help her feel comfortable in sharing her feelings.
I was reminded this weekend, once again that the way that I treat my children matters...but mostly, I was reminded that learning to understand myself, and love myself while I become healthy emotionally and physically, are a few of the most important things that I can do for my children. Because the way that they see themselves and interpret their lives comes directly from the way in which they see us react to them and our environment. It is my mission, to help her learn, in as loving a way as I can, to help her heal and learn to express herself fully... and I am happy to report that over the course of the weekend, hugs and kisses have been in abundance :D and she is willing to come out of her shell.
I am dedicated to helping other mothers out there, so that they don't have to go through these hard lessons with their children. If you have a situation that is similar to this, or would like to understand and/or prevent this or understand yourself and child better, please sign up for Regaining Harmony. It's FREE.
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Tonight, I watched Mommie Dearest, and it made me cry. I sat up in my bed and cried during the infamous "No more wire hangers" scene. I'll be honest with you, I'm not exactly sure why I cried. Obviously I cried because I was watching Christina - the daughter - be beaten with a wire hanger...but I was also crying because I was watching what utter lack of control, self knowledge and the inability to understand one's emotions can do. Of course, this is an extreme reaction, but who is to say that these things can't actually happen?
I remember, a long time ago, when I had four under four - and it was HARD. I remember going into my bathroom to cry, because I didn't know how to do it all. I always felt lonely and alone during this time. My family was far away, my husband worked all of the time, just to bring in the bacon, and I was alone all day long with four small children, and you know what? I know what it's like to be furious and exhausted. To be so angry at my situation that I didn't know what to do.
For the longest time, I had to crawl through the trenches, and relearn everything that I thought I knew about myself, so that I could become a different kind of human being, one step at a time, I had to turn myself around to be the best mother for my kids - I didn't want to turn into that (Mommie Dearest)...and I learned that the hardest struggle that I had to overcome was myself. The story that I'd told myself for so long.
I had to rewrite patterns, change my reactions, and release old habits. You see, I learned that many of the things that I was struggling with, were in fact not truths, but merely beliefs that I was holding on to. Beliefs like:
Although this movie is an extreme example, the truth is that we all loose it is at times, and react in ways that at our best, we would never consider. We all have moments of frustrations, and self doubt, it's only natural. The trick is to use these moments to learn more about yourself, and your child, and the key factor to learning from yourself is HONESTY. Learning to understand why I felt the way that I did. Learning to understand the purpose for my reaction. Taking responsibility for the reactions, feelings and thoughts that lead to my reaction, and understanding where it came from. You see, if I did not learn to be honest with my feelings, myself, and my children, how was I supposed to change?
Being as transparent as possible. When you're honest with yourself (your actions, the reasons, and reaction) you can begin to understand, heal and move forward. When you're honest with yourself, believe it or not, you understand your child and life in a completely different way. Yes. It takes courage. It takes strength to live in such a open/raw manner, but when you take this step: learning to ask yourself why or why not, a different world opens up for you, and you can begin to live...with no BS in between - and then you can start to live the life that you want, for yourself and your children.
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I have forgotten how hard it is to have a fussy 2 year old - I admit it. My older children, have passed that stage, and are now in the stages where they are perfectly able to express themselves and their needs...this weekend, my two year old was over tired, fussy and achy, and this weekend was extremely hard - on both of us. I spend a lot of time holding him and meeting his need for extra cuddles...but you know what? That does not mean that it's was not hard...towards the end of the night, I swear I was close to tears.
He needed me all. Day. Long. and he wouldn't nap. Add to this my sky high laundry pile, food cooking and prep. , dishes needing tending, house a mess...while the other ones fought for my attention....I had a LONG weekend, and you know what, I had to put myself in peace mode, because I knew that it was the only thing to help me through.
Today I will share with you what I did to keep from loosing it:
The first thing that I did was remind myself over and over again, that he was not trying to give me a hard time, he was having one. It's easy to take tantrums and moods personally when we are tired or cranky and nothing is making baby happy - but reminding myself that it's not about me, but about what my baby needed at the moment helped me remain aware of his needs, as well as stay calm when he needed me most.
Two was to eat and nourish myself. If I don't eat, I can end up cranky...mommy needs to eat. :D 'nuff said.
Three, I left the lesser important things for another time...yes I had the biggest pile of laundry ever - like ever - but I left it for the next day, because I am only human and can only do so much in a day...sometimes things get lift for the next day, and that's ok.
Four, I talk less throughout the day. I think more about the way that I am feeling, and why. I take these days as days of introspection: this way, I am less reactive and more observant...on purpose. I've learned the hard way that it's very easy to take my feelings out on my kids when I'm cranky or moody...
the final thing was play. I played with him, and the other kids, and I took time to watch them play together. Often when I feel as if the day is taking a crazy turn, I literally, turn off "to do" mode - if I can avoid it - and I go into hyper attention mode. Where I play or pay attention to them (what they are doing, how they are playing and the way that they interact with each other, etc.). I do this because it allows me to reconnect with them on a more personal level...if I stop trying to do, and focus on what they are doing, I enjoy them in the present moment - having fun and laughing at silly things...I might even laugh a little, inbetween wanting to cry :)
The best motivators for change are our children, and heres' why - they're the best people to mirror our own behaviors back to us - especially if they are young, and are with us the entire day...save interactions with siblings and their other parent.
Allow me to explain with a story:
Before I began this journey into connected and understanding motherhood, I did not realize how deeply I affected my children. I was under the impression, that if they did or said something unfavorable, that all I had to do was tell them to stop, and that that would be it...until my behavior came back to me. My then 3 year old, was doing something with her sister (they were playing with a toy or something) and as I walked by them, I asked them, "what are you doing?" The response that I received was "none of your business!" Ouch! To say that I was taken back my this, does not explain it. It hurt my feelings. I was sad. Sad and hurt, because she talked to me like that. Now, my first reaction was to be angry. How dare she talk to me in that way? Why? I just asked her a simple question. How could she?...all of these things crossed my mind...and then I remembered that she heard that here. No. I don't remember when. I was probably talking to someone, or on the phone, or whatever, and didn't want to be bothered - and she heard me or daddy say it. Boom. Right back at me! And you know what? I didn't like it.
Now it's easy to say, hey you don't speak to me like that. I am your mother, you shall respect me, and all of that other stuff...yeah, it might work in the meantime, but what about her siblings, or another child, and they ask her a simple question, or want to know something and she's cranky or moody, or whatever, and they happen to be in her space in that moment - how do you think that she'll react with them when they ask her, "what's are you doing?" Guess what? It's probably not going to be in a very pleasant way.
You see, it's been said for a long time, that children don't do what we say, they do what we do...this right here folks. This is where the gold is, and this is where the magic happens. This is where we have to put on our big girl panties, and learn to react and behave in the ways that we want them to behave. Trial through fire. Learning and growing through not so pleasant experiences, and having the courage and love to try a different way.
After this, I wanted my children to start to communicate better with each other, and have courtesy for one another, and guess what I had to start learning? Yup. How to treat them with courtesy, and have better communication with them.
Now, I am not saying that they learn EVERYTHING that is unfavorable from us, but they do learn to react in the same way that we do, because it is what we model that they pick up...
You see, the thing is that we always hold the key to help them learn another way, but it does start within. We can only always start with ourselves - because nothing else is permanent. Learning to parent in a different manner than we learned - or in a way that may not be natural to us is hard at times, but it's the only way that we can grow. So, next time, that your child does something that you want to react to - remember two things: 1) they are watching and 2) your learn and grow into a better you through challenging yourself to see a different way. You are worth it, and so are they.
Too often, I come across broken or saddened teens and preteens, who appear down on themselves. The youth and vigor for life, that we expect to see missing. Young people, who we adults think are in their prime, walking around as empty vessels, looking for anything to fill them...in the case of Izabel Laxamana, her fix was suicide...and I ask myself does it have to be this way?
In a society that values productivity, numbers, and letters, virtues such as compassion, empathy and love are seen as secondary and not as important. We push our children to do more, listen more, act better, do better, but are we? We expect that they become the models of what our visions want them to become and we forget that they have already arrived, brining who they are...only we've forgotten to look. In her case, the last straw seemed to be the public shaming from her father - although, there is talk about bullying and things of that nature happening in her life.
Izabel Laxamana's life is typical to many younger people that we see: bullied in school, and shamed by her father, and yet, many many times, when we hear about this happening, some think, eh this is normal, and dismiss their feelings by saying, they have to learn to accept this part of life. But I ask you, how many more children are going to take their lives due to feelings that are too dark for them to understand, before we accept that we have to try another way?
I've seen it many times. Tired parent. Parents that are trying to make a living. Exhausted. Trying to scrape together enough money to get by, and taking their frustrations out on their children. Parents who are trying to reach their children, and have them do what is necessary for them to be successful, in order to lead the lives that the parents dream of...only it's hard to listen when you're not listening. Children are crying out in mass about what is going on in their lives - the second leading cause of death in children/teens ages 10 to 24 IS suicide - and about what they don't approve of, what it is that they need in their lives, only we don't listen....and one would say: I ask them, but they don't tell me. Or, they don't listen. Or, my child is not behaving properly. Only...What we think is "bad behavior" is actually a cry for help. They say I need to be heard, and I don't know to ask for it properly - or I don't think that I will be heard - and you will won't understand.
The problem is that we don't know how to identify the behavior, because many of us, are dealing with our own sets of problems and think that our children's problems are somehow less than ours - until it's too late. Until cases like Izabel Laxamana's pop up...this does not have to happen.
I use this post as a call to action. A call to have any parent out there rethink their strategies: children don't have to be shamed (publicly or privately) or punished to make them behave better...we can learn to do it another way. You can challenge your beliefs and stories. Learn to listen to their song, and DISCIPLINE them in a way that brings you closer together and helps you both learn to heal...HEAL WITH THEM.
I've quoted before, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous lines
and they seem fitting again. Let's not let her life mean nothing. Let's take it as a lesson, and allow it to mean everything. Yes, what we tell our children, how we treat them, the way we think about them, makes a difference.
The truth is that this dad was probably doing his best. The best with what he knew - because come on, that's all that we can ever do at any moment - only it didn't help his daughter, Izabel Laxamana.
So, how do you know if your child needs you to learn another way? I'll tell you, it's pretty simple. Start by asking yourself the simple question, "does my child open up to me?" When he or she is hurting (crying, sad, upset, angry, frustrated) do they turn to you and open up? Do they feel safe feeling vulnerable with you? If not, it might be time for another way.
Do you need help? You can start by listening to your child. Quieting your old stories, and learning to listen to your child.
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There is no question about it, parenting is one of the hardest things that humans can do. From all of the tasks that we assign ourselves, and are given, raising a human being is difficult. Often it can be hard to pinpoint the reason why. We think that it has to do with the child's behavior. Or the never ending list of things to do, or the fact that it never seems to end...but does it really have to be so hard?
I have learned that what makes parenting so hard, is not the child (or our children) but rather the story that we have adopted of what or who our children should be. What they aught to be doing, and in the manner in which they should behave. It is the fact that we have already created a story of what should happen, and have a list of expectations about their "proper behavior," that often causes us unnecessary grief - a lot of the time.
So often, we are try to mold them into someone or something that we fail to see who they already are. We remove from them, who they are, while removing the pleasure of getting to know them, and their beautiful complex natures.
I find that when I treat my children like human beings, and not as people to mold or make to fit into something, I learn a lot about my child and about who I am as well...
you see, the actual reason that so many of us have issues with our children, is because we first have to parent ourselves. We have to learn to understand our emotions, their origins, and the reasons to why we behave in certain ways - so that we don't pass these things down to them.
The real reason is because our actions towards our children have a great impact on the way that they view themselves. Because they watch what we do not what we say; because our impact and what we put into them, carries down the line; and because they learn to interact with others, by the way that we interact with and treat them.
Parenting is hard, not only because we are raising human beings, but because we are learning to undo our stories in the process - and when we don't we can create unnecessary tension, reasons to rebel, or a reason to fight with us - and rather than having an impact, we can - without wanting to - push them away. When we learn to start to understand them, while learning to relate and understand them, as early as possible we release ourselves, as well as them from repeating unnecessary patterns - starting from within, and undoing old behaviors, is where it starts.
I know, it's hard. Most of us were not given these examples going up. Most of us learned to react. We learned to ignore. We learned to not trust or listen to our children. We learned to treat them in a way that disconnects us from them, creating more of the behavior that we don't want...but the great thing is that is can be unleaded. You can learn to listen to that inner knowing. You can learn to understand your needs as well as your child's needs. And. You can learn to silence that voice that is telling you sweet little lies, and learn to bring joy back into parenting once again.
Although the our 12 week program is not available at this time, don't forget to sign up for the waitlist to be the first to know of when it does open. Also stand by for other goodies to come :)
Let me know your thoughts below :) I can't wait to hear them.
I’ve been there; exhaustion – at 2 pm, and lots more day to go: hungry children, needing food: dishes needing to be cleaned: laundry piled up: work to be done: stories needing to be read. Kids screaming, crying and fighting due to a combination of hunger, and the need to go outside or release their wiggles. I know that place well. The dark world that can be a sea of emotions bubbling up inside. With a mile high list of to do’s and kids behaving like kids. These are the most intense moments in my house - the moments where I feel overwhelmed and in serious need of help…or a nap, or wine, or a beer…or something that takes the edge off…but you know what I’ve realized time and time again? That this is the time when my children need me to be the calmest, because these moments create patterns. These moments create habits, and most importantly these moments of emotions, and crazy, and needs reverberate through my house for weeks and months at a time.
Now, I am by no means perfect. I have days of stress, where I am snappier than normal, and am dry or short, but these things are always apologized for: and with me taking responsibility for my feelings, and the reactions for my feelings – I am human after all, but the work that I’ve done over the last few years to release my old patterns and hurts, has created a magic in my life, for which I am eternally grateful. I have learned to see my children and myself in a way that helps me feel connected to them always, and also helps me to understand them. This week, I want to share with you, the 5 realizations that helped me turn our life around. These are things that took years to understand, that I want to share with you today.
1) Most over reactions came from me and my expectations of who they should be, and how they should behave.
Expectations are harmful for them and for ourselves, because we are projecting onto them what WE think they should be or who they should be. This does not serve us, and leaves us expecting them to be someone what they are not: always measuring them, by our rulers, and not by their own: it does a great disservice to them as people. For instance, it is, unreasonable to expect a 2 year old, to not touch a new item on a table. The nature of a two year old is one of curiosity and exploration. If you don’t want your two year old to touch something that is on the table, simply don’t put it within their reach. Hitting a two year old or yelling at them for something like this is harmful to them as people because it makes them feel bad for something that is an innate to their nature. It creates a pattern of misunderstanding, lack of communication, and trust. Often when we are having a continuous problem to something that our children are doing the best place to look is within ourselves, and examine our expectations.
2) Hurt that is not dealt with, or handled, becomes a crutch for negative behavior.
It’s hard to stop behaving in a way that we don’t like when we are not dealing with the things that are bothering us in life. By not dealing with situations that may be uncomfortable, or seem difficult, we push the hurt feelings deep within us, and hide them, sometimes using different coping methods, to deal with the hurt feelings. The problem is that, somewhere within our psyche we are still aware that we are unhappy or hurt, and as we become aware of the negativity, and the feelings begin to pour over into out daily lives affecting our children. Some of us have the ability to not lash out when our lives seem out of control, but often it’s hard to deal with everyday tasks when we feel hurt in different ways.
3) Most of the times that I was angry and hit or yelled, it was because I was not taking care of myself.
I realized somewhere along the way that when I was tired, hungry, needed sleep or a moment to myself, I became the most moody and angry. It’s not possible to not take care of one self and take care of someone else, and feel great at the same time. When we do this, feelings like hurt or resentment, creep in. Sometime, it’s martyrdom. I know when I begin to feel resentment while cooking or cleaning, that it’s time to take a mommy break. In order for us to properly take care of our children, we must first take great care of ourselves. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, its loving yourself. And. Necessary your health.
4) They are human beings, and come with a deep sense of who they are - their needs, and what serves them.
This may seem like an oxymoron, at first, but it is a fact that we seem to forget. This may become apparent in the way that we handle an uncomfortable situation(s) with our children. For instance: one of my twins has always been what can be normally be considered “picky.” He’s been like this since the moment that he was born. When he was a newborn, he developed nipple confusion, between breast and bottle, and for a long time, I thought that there was something wrong with me, and what I was doing. I tried everything that I could think of: expensive bottles, nipples, binkies, nursing weekends (where I would nurse exclusively for days on end) no bottles or binkies, and giving him more solid foods. Nothing seemed to work. After about 7 months of age, he was eating regular mashed food because it was the only thing that he would eat…flash forward to now. I’ve come to realize that he is a determined and consistent person – he likes routine and order. He thrives on this. My switching from breast to bottle, was wreaking havoc on him. He was born with this trait and I understood it in the long run. It’s part of his personality, and a part of who he is. Realizing that he is a human being with a personality and a sense of who he is, has allowed me the freedom to give him his freedom, and nurture his trust in himself (he and all my other kids, as well).
5) I teach them how to behave with each other and how to react to their feelings, with the way that I treat them, and behave with them.
The saying kids will always do what you do and not what you say is true – they do. I have learned that if I want my children to do something or behave in a certain way, I have to start first with me, because if not, the changes that I want to make through them are not real, and won’t stick. In order to change a behavior, I have to stop creating it myself, also true if I want to start a behavior or trend in my home, i.e., modeling what I want vs what I don't like. These changes last, and have a positive effect on all of us.
Remembering these 5 things has changed the way that I live my life with my children. They remind me to learn to understand them, as much as possible, as well as to take care of myself, and my thoughts so that I can get the best of any situation of difficult moment with them.
I would love to hear what you think, in the comments below, or if you have had any tips or realizations over the years you would like to share.
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There is a young boy who lives in my neighborhood, one who I’ve been watching grow up for years. He’s 19, he’s handsome and he seems to be aware of the things and people around him. He seems kind and is very quiet. As you can tell, by my vague description, I don’t know him very well: but I can tell you that when my dog got out of my yard, he brought him back – this action has always stayed with me, and gives my me a nice memory when I see him. So when I found out yesterday that this young boy has a severe drug problem, it saddened me. Deeply.
Now, I’ve always recognized that within him there is a deep sorrow but lately he’s been more lost. He’s becoming lost into the world of drugs and all of the dark things that go along with that world. The mom in me wants to help him. I want to hold him while he cries and tell him that it’s going to be ok. I want to rub his head, while he releases his sorrow in tears, and tell him that it’s a fleeting moment, and that it will pass like everything in life – but I can’t. Watching him grow into a tortured person hurts me from the outside and makes me think, “What can I do?” So I pray. I pray and I pay more attention to my kids – because you see, the thought of one of my kids choosing a life style like this keeps my up at night.
I lay awake at night, in the dark thinking about all of the people that we come across who have chosen this lifestyle and what brought them to this. I wonder about their family life, and about the examples or experiences that they saw in their childhood that made them run to these methods of coping. These thoughts help me remember to become more present: because I know that the key lies in the now.
The moment that I live in, always NOW, is what holds the key. When they – my kids – are crying, what’s the true reason behind the tears: the purpose behind the sadness. When they are struggling with something, how am I nurturing a healthy way to learn from the challenge? When they are feeling big emotions, like my daughter and her anger, how can I turn this moment into introspection and understanding for both of us – and chose connection and understanding vs. guilt and shame…so many questions.
Did I forget to mention that this boy has a son? Yes. He does. This lost boy has a 2 year old baby son – a son who is watching his father, and learning from everything that his father does. Not what his father says, but what his father does. Because the truth is that they learn from what we do. Our children, especially when they are younger, watch us intently, learning from our behavior. They learn to see the world through our eyes. They learn how to react to the world around them, by watching the way that we react to our world - they take on these understandings as their own while they grow. They learn to see and react to challenges, emotions and changes, as we do. The adage, the change begins with you, has everything to do with this.
We are all beginning to feel somewhere within ourselves that the stories and beliefs that we have been telling ourselves is no longer working – I dare you to challenge and change them. Not for yourself, but for your child. We can each change the world, our families, our children and our lives one choice, thought, feeling and emotion at a time.
By taking time to nourish YOUR soul, and nourish what makes you feel good - and alive. By bringing that into your life, family, community etc., you can be the change. It’s time to be authentic, and live your happy. The only way to break the cycle is to be the change. It starts with you…and in the mean time, I will keep choosing connection and understanding wherever possible...and as for this boy, I will continue to pray and send out good vibes his way.
Image found via Pinterest
I've been wondering if its possible to discipline my child without disciplining myself. For the last few weeks, I have been having some trouble with one of my older children. She is growing up, and the tension of her inner world, is bubbling up into our family life, creating havoc. I will admit, that when this first started happening, I was shaken to the core. She has been angry, combative, and stubborn. Now, it’s easy to hear this, and classify this behavior as bad, or some label whose connotation feels the same as the word bad, but I know my child. I know that she is nurturing and kind. She is the kind of person that cares about why her baby brother is crying and tries to do what’s in her power to help him out. She is the kind of kid that cares about dogs in shelters that she’s never seen in person, and whose goal it is to build a shelter for abused or lost dogs, and homeless people…this angry person is not my child.
Believe me when I tell you that my first feeling was anger. I became upset when this started to happen. Why is she behaving in this manner? Did I do something wrong? Is there something that she needs that I am not providing…all of those typical mom guilt feelings running through my mind. The first instance hurt me deeply. I cried. I admit that it hurt my feelings. I cried a lot. This is not something that I am used to receiving from her. The second instance, I realized that that preteen age is serious and that I have to learn to understand – I looked for help. I consulted with a mom who I admire very much, and asked for advice, while I scoured the Internet for anything that can give me answers. I found this great article, regarding the changes that 9 year olds go through. The article explains that this is a critical age, in which the world of a child is starting to be left behind for the world of a more conscious teen/adult. She is basically in a stage of development where children begin to question themselves and their place in the world. Eureka!
With this new understanding I began to perceive what she is going through, and see it in a different way. It’s easy for us moms to take things personally at times. When our children begin to react to things, as human BE-ings, it’s easy to latch onto something that causes us hurt and react in ways that we know. In fact this is where she learned this behavior from, it’s a learned behavior from my own childhood. Watching her struggle with these big feelings, and her lack of understanding has reminded me that, this is an old family reaction that I’ve decided to end; reacting to things without fully understanding them: reacting to feelings without knowing their origins: and reacting to others with anger when there are so many emotions inside, and allowing them bubble up to the surface.
You see, my beautiful, kind, nurturing kid learned this as a child – how to react without understanding, because it’s how I started out as a mother, because it’s also what I learned as a child. Watching her struggle with this has reminded me of two things:
1. She is my reason for learning to do different, because I will not continue those patterns, and
2. This is a never ending process where we all grow and learn from each other - learning to silence the emotions and old story is an important part of the process.
Because this is what I taught her in the beginning - how to react when one is scared of not understanding of situations, it is my job to stay balanced. Balanced so that I can help her understand and create different associations, learning to react in different ways. She reminds me of why I must continue to fight my old stories so that I do not revert to being that mom that does not understand and does not connect. She reminds me of the true meaning of discipline: to teach, and guide - to learn about myself, so that I can show her different possibilities. You see, the discipline in this situation has nothing to do with shaming her or making her feel guilty for being human, but has everything to do with me having self discipline, so that I don’t continue to react to her hurt and her cries for help in negative ways. The self-discipline to quiet those voices fuelled by past experience that say that I have to guilt, shame, yell back, or control.
I am always learning and growing, and have made it my life’s mission to continue to release old stories that no longer work, so that I can show my children a better way: understanding that I hold the key, and that I can show them that different ways are possible… we don’t have to continue in ways that we know - we can strive for better.
My action plan, while this period of change happens, is to connect with her as much as possible. Without reacting to the things that she is feeling. Helping her to understand her inner world, I will show her healthy boundaries, and show her how to release those feelings that she is learning about through a medium that she loves ex. music, art, reading, or writing – the choice is hers, while I walk her through her growing process.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ….
Image found via lifehack.org
Understanding her silent plight is opening up in me, the desire to connect with her more, while I grow to become the mother that I always wanted to be. I strive to quiet the voices that tell me that they are not worthy of loving connection, even though they are human – one challenge, one child, one moments at a time.
I would love to hear from you in the comments. What are your tricks or tips to connect, or to understand.
Also, if you found this post inspirational or helpful in any way - or knows anyone that needs to read this, like and share! :)
The key to spiritual growth through your child is to learn from them and with them. It’s so simple, yet so hard. We have so many stories in our heads about what parenting should or should not be that we often forget that our hearts know the answers, too.
In my observation, the biggest problem between parents and children is the lack of understanding: from the parent to the child. We just don’t know how to relate to our children. Somewhere along the way, we’ve become seriously disconnected – and this disconnect is causing serious harm to our ability to bond with our children.
Stories and beliefs that we hear or observe as children, play a big role in the way that we see our children. Unfortunately for some of our children the lack of understanding, observation and listening skills, is pulling us apart from our primal instincts and joys as parents: to naturally guide our children into adulthood, while allowing them to show us the glory of life.
When I talk to my clients and to mothers in general, one of my favorite stories to hear are the stories of their children’s births, because I've learned that when we listen to these stories, we learn so much about our children and who they are. We learn about their personalities, their traits and demeanors, just by observing our births and *pregnancies. For instance, my first child is very fun loving, free spirited and caring. Her birth was in a birthing center, and was beautiful. I was in a protected loving space, where I was allowed to birth naturally, at my own pace - her arriving at the time that was deemed appropriate to her own (and cosmic) timing. These are all words and descriptions that fit my daughter’s personality. My twins’ birth however, was via c-section: medical, exact and effective - they are just like this. They are old souls, and are extremely direct, logical are literal. They are the kind of people who say what they mean and mean what they say and carry hearts of gold to match. They instinctively know when to hug someone versus when to leave them in peace. During rough times or long days, remembering these things often takes me out of a funky moment, and allows me to align with who they are as people - allowing me to taylor my response to a need according to their personalities.
There is a beautiful story written in birth psychology, which describes the bond and understanding that child and mother share starting before birth and continuing after. It talks about how the mothers of an African tribe go off to sit under a tree after they've decided to have child, to that they can hear the song of their child. I think that this may be one of the key components needed in our current relationships with our children: the connection and understanding of their songs. When I stop struggling with my children and listen to them I realize that already know how to handle various situations in gentle, peaceful and connected way. We can forget that our children are conscious and deeply aware people, who come with their own guidance. We can forget during errands and to do’s, or feelings and memories of behaviors and battles. But, I believe that when we allow them to be who they are, while observing them with love, they blossom and grow into beautiful people. When we allow our relationship to take the forefront - remembering the natural flow of their energies, while allowing them to help us release our old stories, we gain more than we loose. Learning to be mindful, and remember that we all come with an inner guidance and map: being respectful of this, and trusting that we are born with the tools that we need to become our greatest selves, can set us mammas free – because we are reminded by our children, to trust the process, while connecting to our divine knowing and goddess.
Disconnection creates emotional responses from both, but understanding and connection help us blossom and grow – we just have to remember to listen to their songs, like the mothers in the African tribe.
Do you want to share you story and birth with us? Have you become aware of knowing your child through pregnancy and birth? I would love to hear your story in our comment section below :) Feel free to share, mamma!
*I've written about my meeting my children through pregnancy and birth HERE, under "Violet's Story," if you'd like to read more.
Your relationship with your child, is like any other relationship your life: here to teach you something about yourself. It is has been said that
“Most parents will do anything for their children, but let them be themselves”
I think that this does and does not have some sort of truth to it: because we don’t do this intentionally. The truth is that our children, with their behaviors and actions, have the ability to pull out of our subconscious memories, actions and behaviors that we sometimes hide or ignore. Of course the majority of us don’t want to yell or treat our children in a way that we know might cause them emotional hurt (or any other kind of hurt), but often, when we are in a situation that we do not know how to handle, due to lack of example or any other reason, we are left raw and gnawing for any way to make sense of the situation.
Fortunately, the greatest lessons happen when the circumstances become tense and we feel powerless, weak, or defeated. These are the moments when we can learn about ourselves through the magic in our relationship with our children. When we stop and listen we understand. If we treat our relationships with our children as if it were a romantic relationship: one of equals, and mutual agreement, the possibilities of the relationship open up. We are better able to learn about ourselves - and our reaction helping us to change the way that we behave towards our children.
When I began to listen to my children, not to answer but to understand, the world opened up for me. I felt as if the skies rolled back and something magical happened. They began to listen to me more often and I began to understand them. I fell in love, with them (and do so over and over again), and they with me. Once I stopped trying to control them or make them do things (treating them as equals in a relationship rather than people for me to mold or create) our relationship changed from one of constant struggle to one of mutual understanding and more full of joy. Once I allowed them to be themselves we were both free. I slowly became free of the confines of my past and a lot of the beliefs that I had about myself: like the belief that I was only loveable when I was being a “good girl”or being agreeable and nice. Learning to let my children be who they are, helped me realized that that old childhood belief of being loveable when I was good, was crap. I learned to love my self, when I was moody or cranky whenever I loved my kids though the same.
When I learned to love them for being them selves, without changing them or trying to mold them, I gave myself permission to do the same. I love my children naturally, but I also learn and grow with, and because of them. Every challenging opportunity is a new chance to find another layer of love within me – a layer to uncover another lie, and find the truth, and with each challenge I am pushed to find another way. They are my teachers, and I am their guide. Looking at them in this light, continuously reminds me of how special they are, and how lucky I am to have them in my life. So today I ask you: what challenges can you turn into beautiful lessons?
I am a floater...I've always been a go with the wind, and ride it kind of gal! I've had many great opportunities from just being open and flexible. As a result, I never felt the need to change many things, because I was just going with the flow: from one thing to the next, and learning as life happened and as people, places, and events came my way...In fact, I tell most people, that if it were not for my children and husband, I would float away into the sky. I was like this until I started to have my children. My children are the biggest reason that I've learned to seek and actively change, in more ways, than one.
One example is me becoming a raw vegan. I did this because I was tired of being tired. I wanted
to have energy to play with, and run with my children. I felt compelled to do something about the way that I felt and found raw veganism to be an answer. For those of you who have not had a food related life style change, I tell you that this is SO HARD! For the first few weeks, I wanted to stuff my face with everything and anything that was around me. But, knowing that this change meant the difference between a connected mamma, and a tired grumpy mamma made all of the difference - I pushed on. There have been others things like learning to stop yelling (which was big), learning to listen and understand my children in a deeper human level, or learning to understand and pick apart my past and family/ancestral lineage so that I can pick apart and release old family patterns and hurts.
I've learned to be present, more empathetic, and compassionate because of them. In every stage of my life, they have been the driving force for me to become a better person, so that I could become a better mother. I think that when we face the demons and the darkness that we feel, with a brave face, we learn so much about ourselves. I believe that children are our mirrors, in that they reflect what we are putting out into the world and into our home. Being honest with these truths, we are able to embrace the changes that need to happen and learn to live a fuller, more connected life. I have found that even though different circumstances may seem challenging, I don't have to define the challenging times as hard - but as a new way to see the world. I have understood that in life's divine timing, I have the fantastic opportunity to learn and grow...and for this, I thank these beautiful people that I am proud to share my life with.
Let’s talk about beliefs, and why we must look at the importance of them in our lives. When we are in the process of changing our parenting style, our beliefs shape how we see the world. Whether we are aware of it or not, these things affect our every day lives, essentially affecting the decisions that we make. Now you might ask, what does this have to do with being an Introspective Parent? My answer is everything.
New Oxford Dictionary defines belief as an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists: or something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction our beliefs are as subjective as reality – meaning, that what we think or perceive is what we accept as reality.
A long time ago, when I was learning about changing my parenting style, I came across an article, which talked about the importance of language and the effects that it has on us, and how we see our children. For instance, if one of my children is insistent on doing something in a certain way; a specific hairstyle, wearing a certain article of clothing or anything that they want to choose for themselves, I can interpret this in various ways, and the words that I use to describe the action, make a huge difference in my interpretation of the event: words like bossy, leader, decisive, etc. The word that we chose correlates with our belief systems and what we learned growing up, as well as how we define ourselves, and our children. The reaction that we have after the definition of the word has seeped into our consciousness, has a direct effect on our behavior, and in order to change our reactions from within, we must challenge our selves, and what we have learned and/or have been taught, i.e. our beliefs.
When we are not able to, or are unwilling to acknowledge our triggers and behaviors, in correlation with our belief systems, we usually behave in the same manner taught to us during childhood - or something similar. But when we begin to look at our belief systems, and understand them, we can learn to perceive our relationship with our children in different way - then change accordingly. When we learn to understand our lives in another context: learn to live more openly, more fully aligned with our convictions and desires, we are better able to open up and learn to see our children in another light. The question then becomes: How can I heal myself, and learn to change my perception, and old behavoral patters?
Challenging your belief systems is never easy, but it can be a crucial step in changing the way that we interact with out children, and the way that they open up and trust us. The first step is always acknowledging that there is another way, and learning to listen to our children - not listening to respond, but actually listening with the intention of understanding. Slowly as we practice this, we learn more about who they are, and also who we are.
Last night, I learned a lesson in paying attention and listening that I will never forget. My 9-year-old daughter has the habit of not making her bed until the very last minute of sleep - a habit that makes me nuts. Every night, I remind her countless times to fix her bed before getting tired or getting ready to sleep...sometimes she does it, sometimes she does not. She has admitted to me that she detests fixing her bed, and this is why it often takes her so long - tonight was no different.
As I walked by her room, everyone already asleep, I peek into her room and see her sitting on her bed: bed unmade, and daughter fiddling around with paper. I open the door and say to her, that her bed should've been made hours before, and that she should stop being lazy and just get it over with and fix her bed. Now, my daughter, without batting an eye, sits up, smiles and says, "mami, I have something for you." To my surprise, it's a card. She was sitting on her bed, writing cards out for everyone in our family, and had just finished my card, and had it ready to give to me.
Now, I feel like an asshole. I look down at this card, and then back over at my beaming baby! The most important thing to her, is me reading that card. Not that I called her lazy about fixing her bed (even though its killing me!). Not that in a few minutes time she has to dreadfully fix her bed, and definitely not the fact that judged her actions before I was aware of what she was doing.
As I opened and red her card, I heart fully apologized for calling her lazy and for jumping to conclusions...she said that it was ok, and waited for my reaction. As I read her words of love to me, I cried, smiled and then kissed and hugged her. I told her my feelings, and about joy-filled her card made me.
I often feel very proud about changing my mothering habits: going from being a hitter and yeller to a peaceful and gentle parent, but these moments like this remind me that the journey has many roads and bumps along the way, all leading to healing my relationship with them and my self. The more open and honest I am with her, the more that she teaches me to be a better mother, for her and to my other children. My daughter did not think twice about my unfortunate choice of words, but I did, and I will from now one. As a homeschool mom, its easy to think that I'm teaching her and her siblings all day long, but the truth is that she and all of my children, teach me in more ways than they know. Opportunities for growth are eerywhere, sometimes, we just have to adjust our lense.
Have you recently had a moment like this with your child? I would love to hear about it! Please share in the comments below.
Healing the relationship with your child can be scary. It requires questioning our beliefs and behaviors. We have to begin to treat our children and ourselves in a way that we are not familiar with.
When I began the process of learning to understand my children, in order to become a more gentle peaceful parent, I didn't realize that, although my initial mission was to change the way that I reacted to my children, I was also changing myself. I learned how to change the patterns that were the norm, and I learned how to heal my own emotions while healing theirs. Today, I will share with you, some of the things that I learned along the way.
Forgiveness Is Important
This one is very difficult for us to do. As mothers, I think that we have attached a strange pleasure to the guilt martyr feelings...I jest! Kinda. We replay things that we did over and over and over again in our brains, replaying what happened. We obsess over the things that we've done. Or could've done better. Or should've. Or blah blah blah. When the truth is that we all have moments that are not stellar, and holding on to these things is sure to do one of two things:
The truth is that every not-so-great moment, is a chance to learn something. A new way to react in the future, form a new perspective and understand where we learned the behavior. Rainbows come after the rain, and we too blossom through every experience. We all go through this. Beating yourself up does not help you in the long run. See it for what it is: a chance to change and start anew.
Being Less Reactive Can Be A Miracle
I still remember when I realized this for the first time. I was on my couch, after a long day: 9 pm and husband still at work: kids needing to be bathed: exhaustion: lack of sleep: and me needing a break. Most days this would've been the perfect concoction for cranky and yelling.
One of my twins walked by me, and headed to the kitchen. At this time, he was 3 years old, and had a new found fondness for climbing onto the kitchen counter and going through the cabinets. He would take everything - as long as he could reach it - out, and would throw it everywhere. This time was different. I asked him what he wanted, and if he was hungry. He nodded his head yes. Being a late talker, this communication was huge. If I would've reacted as times before: yelled, assumed that he was playing in the cabinet and wanting to take things out and spill them everywhere, I would not have learned to understand. Instead I would have become angry with the thoutht that I had to clean the mess that always happened when he went through the cabinets.
Being non-reactive and understanding instead, allowed me to change my perception and reaction. I learned that day, that being one sided and not giving thought to the why he, or any of my other children, do certain things is disconnecting. Taking a breath between feelings and reaction can often be life altering.
Listening Without Defending and Apologizing After
Admitting I Was Wrong
When I was pregnant with my last baby, I had a conversation with my oldest daughter about my old behaviors and parenting style (yelling and not understanding). It forced me to confront the reality that I was not listening to them. We spoke about where I learned those behaviors. She was glad that I was not going to be "that mommy" with her new baby brother, and that I am not like that anymore with her and her siblings. When I listened, and created a space for her to feel trust, without her feeling attacked, or as if she had to defend herself the healing process began.
When we listen to our children and what they have to say about our actions/reactions to them, we learn to understand them - their needs, wants, feelings and thoughts. We allow them to get out what they keep inside, and help them heal past hurts. We learn to understand the consequence of our actions, and learn to behave in a way that honors them and ourselves while fostering the relationship, and just as important, we gain their trust.Saying that I was wrong and apologizing moved mountains. Not only for my children but also for myself. It lead to freedom.
Understanding My Beginnings - My Ancestry
It might be hard to know why act in a certain way, when we don't know or understand were these behaviors come from. When we are unconscious of the energies in our relationships: thoughts, emotions, feelings, acts etc., with out children we may be doomed to repeat them. Unconscious energies have a great ability to creep up in our everyday lives. Changing and understanding my behaior, was one of the reasons that I started to question my beliefs and ancestry. Research has shown that it is possible to pass along memories and trauma through our DNA. It is possibly carry along family dramas or past actions into the present, and being unaware of these past issues, patterns, or stories, can lead us into repeating them. Fortunatly becoming aware of these energies, gives us a head start, and the ability to consciously change.
Becoming More Available
The more present that I am, the more I am able to connect, and understand. I am able to see issues, before they become a problem. I am able to understand what my needs are, hunger, tired, thirsty, sleepy etc., so that I can be more available to my children and I can nurture myself, and also be more nurturing to them.
Checking messages, looking through social media, reading articles online, etc., these are all things that take more time that I may have at the moment. Leaving devices alone has helped me tremendously. I have realized that having my smart phone with me creates a lot of crap that is not necessary. In the world of a child, 5 extra minutes in hunger mode (or mommy - hanger is real here folks!), can make the big difference between melt down and cooperation.
I am learning to leave my laptop in my office and my smart phone in another room or on a shelf. I check only when I have a personal message or call from family. Everything else is left for certain times of the day (early morning or night). Of course, at times, I do pop in, but I have noticed the difference between being present and just being in the room.
It is said that there is not such thing, as a good or bad child, only someone that needs attention. I agree with this. I find that when my kids are acting out, is when they need more attention: open, honest, and loving attention. I am able to deal with the issue head one and figure out a solution that helps and heals us both. Labeling the behavior as "bad" stops the progress.
When we label something, we automatically define it. Our children are more than labels. They are not black and white, or good or bad. They are people with feelings and emotions that span the entire spectrum - as are we. When we learn to remove labels, we learn to deal with the issues that are at hand.
Learning to LOVE Oneself
This one is kind-of a big deal. In order to properly nurture and heal my children, I had to learn to start healing myself, emotionally, physically, and spiritually while listening to my inner guidance. I had to learn to be honest with my needs. Listen to my body, and take care of it. I learned to stop doing things that were hurting me. This is one of those things that I am always learning and improving.
I will not say that all of this happens over night. In fact, I think that the older the child is, when we start to heal and move forward, the longer it might take to heal and move past a lot of the layers of baggage - but, I know that it is worth it. If I can change the relationship with my "defiant" child (the one who came along to help me heal and learn another way, into one of harmony, trust, and openness), then you can definitely do it too.