Think you’re emotionally healthy and mature? Odds are, parenting will make you rethink that.
Parenting is, some days, like one consistent trigger. The constant flashbacks that This Is Us hits you over the head with used to bug me, until I realised how reflective of reality this truly was if I just stopped to consider it.
I had a good chat to a group of fellow parents recently, and we all agreed that our gentle/empathetic approach is going well for us and that our generation is raising the next in a new way. We aren’t going to be get it right every time. Nobody is perfect. But if we can get it right more often than not, and try to avoid the mistakes of our parents, that’s a step in the right direction.
Even seemingly throwaway words and actions have a lifelong impact, especially on a sensitive child. And I want to do all I can to avoid doing the same to Spud.
I do my best to validate/praise, and not be dismissive of him. To let him feel his emotions, no matter how uncomfortable that is for me. To encourage him and let him be himself.
As he gets older, I hope to be able to maintain a realistic view of who is he. To let him be his full, true self. My dad had overblown views of my talents; my mum probably quite the opposite. No wonder I’ve struggled to calibrate my own self image and establish my own identity.
I hope to maintain healthy boundaries. To not put him in the middle, and never to use him to share my adult problems.
In hindsight, moving countries was hard for me. I was a sensitive kid. Never bullied, but little comments from classmates here and there, and visibly being different, made me feel extremely self-conscious and insecure in ways I never really interrogated; ways that I’m waking up to now and working to heal and integrate. It must also have been incredibly hard for my parents, and I think it was the turning point for a lot of things going wrong there.
At least they modelled some good financial habits for me, and that is something I hope to pass on. Spud has already gleaned that you need money to go to the shops and buy things … and I tell him that I work to earn money that pays for our house, clothes, food, toys etc. I’m almost looking forward to when he’s old enough for an allowance and to start to manage some of his own money 🙂
When I get overwhelmed by rage and frustration and grief all over again, I’ve learned to turn it into words. If you’ve run out of people to talk to about it, the good news is that writing is even more powerful. I journal out the anger as part of releasing it. And I forgive others, as I forgive myself, for doing what we could and what we knew at the time. Forgiveness journaling has been a sanity saver these past few months.
Ooooof learning how to let JB have their feelings and the space to feel them safely has been a real trial of patience and self talk these past few years. I didn’t even know how to allow myself that space so it was all a theory we put into practice without having had our own practice at it.
Therapy this year has really blown the doors off my repressed memories and feelings, though, and it’s so helpful to be telling JB what I needed to hear growing up.
Parenting is rough no matter what style you take, I think, but I think we’re taking the tougher, but so worthwhile, road.