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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.
Do you want to learn more?
Or share your thoughts below. I would love to hear them..
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.
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.
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.