At the heart of parenting

Uncategorized Dec 02, 2020

"I feel so lonely as a parent. I feel my teenage daughters 'hate' me. They don't take my advice, they can't connect to me, and it's tough and lonely. I wish I could turn back time so that I invested in the connection when they were younger."

A client in my Mastermind shares her heartbreak. It's so common. 

The cracks of connection between our children and us show in the teenage years.  

There is a complacency that's common amongst parents.

We take for granted that our child has entrusted us with their heart.

We "assume" that they will always come to us in their moments of need - and we assume that they will seek our advice and guidance in the teenage years - without us needing to put in the effort to build and cultivate that emotional connection in their younger years. 

There is a simple question that gets straight to the heart of parenting.

On a scale of 1-10, to what extent did you feel seen, heard, and understood by your parents?   .... Now, put yourself in your child's experience. To what extent do they feel seen, heard, and understood by you?  

"To love, without knowing how to love, wounds the one we love." - Thich Nhat Hanh  

Most of us didn't grow up with a healthy relationship to "Love".

We think it's some emotion that's based on something external to us.  

We unconsciously believe Love is conditional.   ....And then we pass this onto our children.  

Our children then interpret Love as; 

- I'm only loved when I'm obedient

- I'm only loved when I listen to what they say (even at the cost of sharing how I authentically feel)

- I'm only loved if they consider I'm "good."

- I'm only loved if I don't display difficult emotions

- I'm unlovable if I disagree with them

- I'm unlovable if I can't control and regulate my emotions - even if I'm having a really hard time

- I'm unlovable if they consider that I'm acting "bad."  

This then supports beliefs such as; "I'm unworthy", "I'm not enough", "I'm unlovable", "I'm broken", "I'm a disappointment".   

This is how generational wounds are passed on.

When a young child feels "unlovable" in the moments that they are challenged, and this happens on a regular and consistent basis, the seed of "shame" has been planted. 

When they are "challenged" and having a hard time - that's when they need us the most.     

To the child, whether they are 3 years old and having a challenging time regulating their emotions when they are frustrated, or 16 and challenged with peer pressure and stress of their exams - it's the same emotional experience.

They are seeking from us to know "Am I still lovable?".   

As an "adult", when we unconsciously place our "judgement" on whether their reaction is valid or not based on our perception of a circumstance - we have chosen to stop meeting them where they are at.  

In our child's world, we have "withheld" Love. Once again, reinforcing that "Love" is conditional.   

This is why most of us "struggle" to love ourselves when we fall short. 

This is why it is challenging to have compassion for ourselves when we have made a mistake.

This is why the idea of being kind to ourselves is almost foreign when we are judging ourselves.

This is why we are unable to receive love (for we think we are unworthy), to forgive ourselves (because we believe we are inherently broken), and give ourselves grace - when we are running on empty.  

We are so hard on ourselves - because we don't know what it felt like to be met with gentleness when we were challenged. We failed to feel seen, heard, and understood - when we needed it most.

.... So, on a scale of 1-10, how seen, heard, and understood does your child feel by you?

The answer is your starting point.... and when you know better, you can do better.

To learn more about understanding how your child "receives" love, check out my latest conversation with Lisa Winneke on The Good News Guide here: Conscious Parenting and the Five Love Languages.  

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