Women often struggle to feel the often contradictory feelings & emotions they have in relationship to their mothers. In a world where mothers are often deified or criminalized, it's hard to just embrace a woman as the complex human being that she is. But honestly, I can't think of a way to honor my own mother more fully than to love myself deeply enough to allow for the full range of my emotions and human experience, as I acknowledge hers. And in that experience, I acknowledge her to not as an angel and not as a demon, but as a complex and dynamic human being. And that's what I deeply want for my own kids. I want them to love themselves enough to never need to deny any part of themselves for me or for anyone else. That means to embrace it all. And in case you need it, you have my full permission to do so.
Did you realize that you have access to a Marvel-level superpower that can alter the course of your life and your children's too? That's precisely how I've come to view the work I do in my life (as a mom, and as a human), and that I now LOVE to teach, because it feels just like that. Carl Jung said, "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." Making the unconscious conscious isn't something we're taught, but I'll share one small example of how learning to do this creates an entirely new path for us to walk.
I don't believe in bad behavior. In fact, I'd love to strip away from the discussion of behavior all the moralizing we tend to do. And instead, come to see behavior within the broader context of a person's experience. Just as medicine begins to look beyond the symptoms a person's experiencing, and just treating symptoms (the old model), to understand more about the environment of the body and the psychosocial well-being of the individual (the emerging model); doing the same with behavior will shatter the old model of punishment & reward and help us see the child behind the behavior. And no one could welcome this more than me. I was that kid whose behavior was the problem, institutionalized and medicated based on that behavior even, but there was so much more to that story than what the behavior alone could tell. The behavior was only the outward manifestation of what was happening within. And I realize now that my pursuit of a deeper understanding of "self" and experience was an incredible act of self love. Having done this work for myself, this learning becomes a gift I actively give my kids and others around me.
We tend to think about and approach our kids and their behavior in a superficial way in the sense that we don't understand what's motivating that behavior. This can lead to thinking of behavior as a "problem" or a "pathology" and turning to strategies to "fix" behavior instead of understanding the child enacting it. I want to explore this concept and offer another perspective on our kids and their "bad behavior" that's more liberating to them (and to us), and which can help us see behind the scenes to what's really going on in that behavior for them. P.s. our ability to see the kid in those moments of "bad behavior" is greatly helped by our ability to see ourselves in moments of "bad behavior" as well. P.p.s. This is a two-parter!
I'm experiencing a bit of a rebellion lately. And it's not a problem! It's all part of an organic process we can experience as we move through life. Whether or not we're aware of it, we're constantly receiving guidance from the body in the form of a "push or pull"; that, if we learned to listen (not from the mind but through awareness in the body), we'd realize there's a path unfolding before our feet that we can follow. As much as we can appreciate guidance from the outside, ultimately it's all helping us (if we let it) clarify our own path.
An (on my heart) episode riffing more on the topic of parentification and what it means to walk away from that dynamic with a parent. We're thwarted in our development when we stay in this dynamic as adults; doing a disservice to ourselves, but also often to those we seek to rescue (and be responsible for) as well. Speaking for myself, I could never become the mother I wanted to be until I was able to do the work to reclaim myself from that dynamic.
The parentified child is the child who often played the role of the parent in relationship to her own parents. Becoming "adult too soon", and bearing more responsibility for an adult's well-being than she could actually carry. This experience can create belief patterns and behaviors that we can carry into adulthood. It's not always easy to see this happening because it's such a pervasive experience; but knowing about it can help us understand experiences we had as kids, why we may continue to struggle as adults, and how we can help avoid re-creating this dynamic with our kids. This episode pairs well with the episode on emotional development.
I'm not dishing out any parenting advice in this episode - but I'm also not against parenting advice and parenting strategies per say - what I am promoting in this episode is a parenting beyond the books approach. You don’t need the outside world to tell you how to parent. When we learn to trust ourselves everything else falls into place. And when you have reached a place of self-understanding and you’ve learned more about what it means to be a human being in this world through studying your own life; you will come to trust and to know in your bones what each next step; each next response; needs to be.
Statistics for childhood sexual abuse are abysmal, with some stats reporting 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 8 boys under the age of 18 experiencing childhood sexual abuse. Stats like that are enough to bring on a sense of powerlessness in the face of an epidemic like that; it's little wonder why it's one of the top concerns mothers have. But we are far more powerful than we realize to influence the prevalence of this experience. I'm on a mission to help women and mothers (and anyone who cares for children) realize just how powerful and influential they actually are to create the kind of environment in which this experience is far less likely to happen. Like all of what we do; it starts with us. It puts the power back in our hands to act and to act effectively. Listen until the end of this episode for a special call-out to hear from women and moms like me, who want to know what makes a child vulnerable to this experience and what makes the experience far less likely.
At the heart of what we often struggle with most as mothers is how we can provide for our children something we didn't have as kids. This is not a matter of blame more than it is taking an honest look at our lives and experiences. One area we often struggle most is in how we think about and work with our own emotions. We often either shut down and avoid “difficult” emotions, or we become emotionally volatile or easily triggered; both indicators what we don’t have an equanimous relationship to our own emotions. And we likely didn’t learn how to be with and relate to our emotions in healthy ways. It’s endemic in our culture and so our parents likely didn’t know how either. This imbalanced relationship to emotion can create havoc within us, and until we learn another way of being with emotion, we’ll likely pass on these patterns to our kids.