Did you know that our reactions are typically driven by what we’re telling ourselves in any given moment?
For example, if my child is having a meltdown and I tell myself, “This AGAIN!? What’s wrong with him/her? I don’t have time for this!” Imagine what might come next.
Now, if my child is having that same meltdown and I tell myself, “My child is having a hard time. I can handle this. I’m going to take a breath and focus on connecting with him/her.” Imagine how I’m going to show up in that moment.
What do you notice?
Here’s the thing…We are constantly making interpretations of our child’s behavior and how we think things “should” be, which is often based on our own histories as well as our fears (i.e. fear they’ll fail, fear their behavior will reflect poorly on us, fear we’re not a good parent etc).These expectations and fears get passed down from our childhood (generations, actually) as well as our culture. They become so ingrained in us, that we rarely stop to question them. We then end up projecting these unrealistic expectations onto our child (Ever find yourself thinking, “I never would have gotten away with this in my house!”).
Yet, if we were to slow down and get curious, we’d find that, more often than not, these expectations we cling to are quite unrealistic, even unreasonable, for our child’s age and stage of development (just as they were likely unrealistic when we were young). When you really think about it, this whole projection “process” isn’t so fair to our child, is it?
Fortunately, we are always in choice. For starters, we can choose to take ownership of our feelings, including our fears, seeing them as our own (often based on old, unhealed wounds), which have nothing to do with our child. Once we have this awareness, we can pause, let go of our unrealistic expectations and begin to practice responding with empathy and compassion, instead of reacting out of impatience, frustration or anger when challenges with our children show up.
Is this easy? Heck NO! Yet, what’s the alternative? I fully believe we owe it to ourselves and our children to acknowledge these painful feelings which underlie our reactivity, while giving ourselves permission to feel, rather than dismiss them. Once we can let go of blame, fear and projection, we’re better able to grow and evolve into the conscious, present and empowered parents we’re meant to be. AND, we become better able to guide our children in evolving into the conscious, empowered individuals they’re meant to be!
It just takes time, patience, practice and lots of self-compassion.
The good news…We’re built to do hard things! ❤️