We all lose it differently. Some of us want to curl up in a ball. Some of us disengage on screens. Some of us cry. Some of us yell. Some of us explode. Some of us get aggressive. Some of us curse. Some of us use threats and bribes and say hurtful things that were said to us when we were children. Some of us do a combination of all of the above. It happens I tell you. Even professionals in the field of helping parents and children, react in ways that seem hypocritical of everything that they teach and value. It happens…
I was joking with my husband the other day, saying how young children can be like drunk people. Irrational, intensely irritating, incoherent at times, unable to do the simplest of tasks, etc. It made me laugh talking about it… but it also made me feel enormous compassion for myself and for other parents trying their hardest to be gentle, aware parents. Because it’s easy to go on parenting in ‘react‘ mode. It’s a challenge to become aware of our tendency to react, and if you’ve taken the challenge, you’re already doing amazing things!
Kids have the ability to unintentionally push every single one of our buttons and can trigger, in us, our absolute worst reactions!
I started meditating when I was in uni and I became such a relaxed, balanced person. For years, I thought I might never get angry and worked up again in my life! And you know what happened… I had a child. Then, I had another one. Suddenly, I had a 2 year old and a newborn and POOF, I found myself getting angry so easily!
I definitely don’t get as angry as I would if I didn’t use powerful stress management techniques or if I hadn’t spent years searching and healing from deep inside, or if I hadn’t read and learned about gentle, aware parenting practices… but yes, my kids still send me totally up the wall! At first, I felt like a huge hypocrite… but then I started to see my situation with so much more compassion and patience. It just happens… we can only do our best.
We’re so lucky that a young child has the same unconditional love for us that we can hold for them. We can do our best, and mess up, and they still come back to us, with open arms. I’ve been shocked before, witnessing how patient my kids were with me while I was learning and falling and learning all over again. I thank them for their patience! Kids want us to have fun. They want us to be fair. They don’t want us to be stressed. They don’t want to hang on to grudges. Young children live in the present moment, so even if we lose it, they’re not going to hold too much against you.
Modern western parenting sucks! I have a lot of friends that come from countries where they grew up with maids and nannies. Paid people who do all the cooking, cleaning and a lot of child minding. I imagined what my life would be like if I had that much help. Or, I imagined what my life would be like if I lived in a village, surrounded by grandparents, aunties and cousins. How much better my parenting would be?!
But, in our society, even the ‘best of us‘ who have shaved down every unnecessary activity in our lives, we still struggle to find enough time. And, when we don’t have enough time, we get stressed. And when we get stressed, we don’t respond the way we want to. Be kind to yourself. Multitasking is something that actually doesn’t exist.
Awareness is the only real ‘Step’. There’s no medal or certificate we get for improving our parenting skills. So, the only way we can know that we’re doing anything better is through our awareness. The more we’re aware of our tendency to react instead of respond the way we want to, the better we’ll get at doing the right thing. If you have a tendency to yell and smack, and you can be aware over and over when that tendency comes up, you’ll see that the tendency to yell and smack reduces. Awareness, observation, and respond. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It can take years.
We’re all on a journey with no end point, the only measuring mark is our evolution. Even if we can only see the change inside of ourselves and our outward behaviours are still similar to what they were before, that’s STILL a major improvement!
If you’ve spent 20 or 30 years living in one way, or hanging on to experiences that majorly impacted you as a child, you can’t expect to magically erase your entire life history and start fresh in one day! I mean, in some cases, it can happen, but don’t expect it! Reading a few books or taking a few courses on improving your parenting can help enormously, and can really blow your mind to show us the potential we have as parents… But, it takes times. It really takes time. Honour your journey. Be compassionate with yourself. And, be always willing to learn. And, remember that nobody, NOBODY, is being a perfect parent. We’re all on our way.
This is post is not to say we don’t need help sometimes. If you find yourself getting really aggressive with your child or can’t control your raging towards a child or are truly losing it, please don’t hesitate to get professional help.