Over the years, I've come to the clarity that there are two primary things children need in order to develop as healthy whole human beings which are rarely focused on in our society and which are what the bulk of my work is intended to create: feeling emotionally safe and developing a healthy sense of self.
(I cover this in my audio 'Creating a Sense of Safety in Children and Helping Them Build a Healthy Sense of Self.')
I've been talking extensively about the importance of supporting children in developing a healthy sense of self ever since starting Parenting for Wholeness.
And claimed for years that it was the most important thing for parents to focus on.
Though all my work was inherently designed to create a relationship with children and a life in which they'd feel safe, I've only started directly talking about it and prioritizing it in recent years after I realized through my healing work the extent to which I NEVER felt safe!
The topic of safety is one I've become passionate about and on which I keep gaining ever deepening levels of understanding as I continue my journey in healing my complex PTSD which is the result of the damaging way I was parented.
I had an insight this past week that I believe is powerful based on the way it's been landing with moms I work with, so wanted to share it with you today.
But first a bit of general information on children feeling emotionally safe:
It's important to realize that children feeling safe has nothing to do with our knowing that they are safe and everything to do with how they personally feel. What they're experiencing in their bodies and how they experience their lives.
Here are some key conditions that need to be met in order for them to feel safe:
My latest insight came through doing my own inner work this past month, working diligently on healing a feeling of powerlessness which often causes me to go into fight/flight mode in the most banal and inconsequential of exchanges and situations.
I feel unsafe because in me lives a deep belief that I don't have the power to affect change in the people around me, therefore don't have the ability to get my needs met.
It caused me to feel unsafe with most people or in anything that I deemed a potential source of disagreement or conflict.
Part of me saw almost everything and everyone as a threat so I lived in a constant low level or activated state of vigilance, alertness and even defensiveness.
(Thankfully I'm finally freeing myself from this!!)
This happened because I was raised by parents who ignored, invalidated and denied my feelings and needs when I expressed them, so as a child I had no ability to get my needs met, to affect change in my life where needed.
It's what we want to make sure doesn't happen for our children.
In order to feel safe and develop as humans were meant to, they need to know they have the ability to impact their lives and the people responsible for meeting their needs.
They need to feel they have the power to get their needs met, to affect change in their circumstances when they communicate their painful feelings and unmet needs.
Can you feel that?
If you too had parents who were unable to or uninterested in attuning to you, can you imagine how differently you might have developed if you'd grown up in a world and with people who were responsive to you, where you had the power to get your needs met?
And again, please understand that being responsive to children doesn't mean giving them everything they want! In fact doing so will lead to them NOT feeling safe.
It's about honoring their feelings and respecting them as human beings while leading them and setting boundaries.
(This can easily be done through what I call Clear Benevolent Leadership, demonstrated in the video below.)
All this leads to children feeling truly safe so they can live relaxed in their bodies, able to behave their best and available to take others' experiences into account.
WANT SOME HELP IN THIS?
If as I did you want to make sure that your children grow up with an intact sense of self and healthy relationship with life and people and would like my help doing so, let me know by emailing me.
It's what my Clean Parenting program is designed to create, in addition to helping you honor your truth and your needs and create a life that fully works for you so you can all thrive.
Lots of love,
P.S.: For a sense of what an adult with a healthy sense of self looks like, you may enjoy this video of my oldest daughter.
Though I recorded this video so Cassandra could provide a wonderful example of Clear Benevolent Leadership, several moms contacted me after watching it for a completely different reason.
They were moved to tears watching it because they could see and feel in Cassandra what a healthy and thriving human being she is, and it's something they so long for for themselves as well as their children!
And they expressed gratitude that through the work they've done with me they had confidence that their children will also thrive as adults as mine do.
Here's what Amanda Lambert from Australia wrote about her experience of this program:
"I am SO grateful that I did this course. This program is not just another parenting technique course, but is an in-depth exploration of how you see yourself and your children, and how you understand your role as a parent. My family life is so much more peaceful after completing Clean Parenting! My children are much more content and happy, and when they are having a meltdown, or are whining or upset, I know what I need to do to help them back to being calm and centered. And it works!!! As a result, we have a more trusting relationship. I feel much more confident in my parenting. I have changed from just wanting to be respectful, gentle, and effective to being a lot closer to living those daily.
I really felt that Eliane personally invested in seeing me grasp and live what she was teaching. I also loved the fact that she encouraged each of us in the course to figure out how the practices would look in our lives – there were no standard solutions – but each person was encouraged to figure out how to make life work in their particular family and context. The individualised, specific feedback to our issues and problems was very powerful, as was the participation in an open, honest group. I felt truly mentored and guided through applying the principles of parenting to my life – able to work on the nitty gritty, day-in, day-out interactions."