Many of the parents I work with feel challenged in their relationship with their oldest child.
In fact, a few years after starting to run my Clean Parenting™ program, I noticed that every time a mom signed up for it in order to work on issues with a specific child, it was always their oldest (I'm not saying that this is universal in families, just that it's how it had shown up in my practice at that point.)
For some families, parenting this child was challenging from early on.
But for many others, things were going well, or even great, until some time after their second child came along.
At that point, their oldest child stopped being easy going and cooperative, started exhibiting new unpleasant behaviors, or even started hurting their younger sibling.
Because this is true for so many parents of multiple children I've worked with, I’ve given this phenomenon a lot of thought.
And I've come to believe that a lot of the issues that show up with our first child are because we're so new to parenting.
For many of us, parenting our second child is so much easier!
We get to experience what I call unconscious parenting - in the most positive of ways!
We mostly know what we’re doing, are tapped in to our instincts instead of in our heads trying to think through and analyze every single little thing and worrying about everything, like we did with our first.
We are therefore present with them.
We’re coming from a more grounded and confident place, less child-centered, and both baby and ourselves greatly benefit from this.
But when we're new moms, since our society is so not attuned to the emotional needs of children (and all humans, really!), it's easy for us to feel conflicted and make decisions to follow mainstream advice, rather than following our instincts.
This can lead to wounds in the oldest child which later need to be healed, as well as a sense of self, of rightness and even of security that's not as solid as in subsequent children.
And, if there are any unmet needs in the child, they become even less likely to be met after the second child is born because of our split focus and because a new baby needs so much attending to. As they watch us give the new child loving attention, any sense of lack or unresolved issue in them can get triggered and amplified.
I didn’t experience having a very challenging child, but I did have struggles with my first, Cassandra, which I didn’t have with my other two.
My impulse to control her, and even at times to inflict pain on her when I couldn’t control her or she wouldn't just obey me, was very strong. For the first five years of her life, Cassandra didn’t smile a lot or show much affection. At times, she was pretty headstrong and resistant.
Around the age of five, my unwavering commitment to adopting a clean parenting approach allowed me to finally fully let go of my baggage around controlling and wanting to punish her, and a total shift occurred.
It’s difficult now to even relate the Cassandra before age five to the Cassandra after.
It was that drastic.
Back then, I thought it was just a developmental milestone, but now I know that her shift happened as a result of mine.
She’s such a happy, easy going person who lights up any room she walks in! I call her my sunshine. ♥
And I would guess that had I not succeeded in shifting my approach and clearing my drive to control her, I would have ended up with a much more challenging oldest child, rather than one who is so easy to be with, happy, wholesome, cooperative (while still being strong!) and who everyone adores.
I’m happy to say that most parents, through my Clean Parenting program, are also able to clear, heal and align what was at play with their oldest child to also find the ease I found with my Cassandra.
After a lot of courageous work in the program, they often move on to have ease and joy in their oldest child relationship that they never dreamed was possible.
Many even achieve what I call family homeostasis.
There are three specific ways I work with these moms in order to reach this beautiful place of ease and harmony which I wish all families could live:
1. Establishing a clean parenting foundation
First, we work on clearing their conditioning and false beliefs, and connecting them to their inner guidance.
I help them find their way to parent from a place of presence and connection to their children, and provide them the support and examples we all would have had if we'd grown up as have mothers-to-be for most humanity, in tribes in tune with human's needs with lots of good parenting modeling.
Some of the specific things we work on are:
2. Helping the child heal anything unresolved in them
Once their clean parenting foundation is established and often times more trust and openness is then present in the children, we work on them developing the empathy and space holding skills to bring out and process what's in the way of the child fully feeling good in their skin, trusting their parents and life.
The points that I most actively work on with those parents, which relate directly to the topic of this article, are:
3. Working on and healing what’s triggered in the mom
Once your Clean Parenting™ foundation is established, you're likely to still find situations where you get triggered, where you don't have access to the positive attitude and responses you've now developed.
This happens when your 'stuff,' your conditioning, your unhealed wounds are activated.
So the second step is to do inner work to clear your stuff and heal your wounds which are impacting your ability to parent.
This is what follow up PFW programs like my Clean Relationships and Clean Parenting YOURSELF ones, Annemie's Self-Love program, as well as healing sessions are designed to do.
I'm truly amazed at the results parents I work with experience, when they start with the Clean Parenting™ program and then (either with me or with their trusted and effective counselors) do inner work on their leftover issues.
WARNING: It is NOT an easy journey.
It requires you to:
I'm grateful beyond words to the young mom I was with Cassandra, and to the brave moms in my program who have committed themselves to healing their relationships with their oldest child.
What is possible through effective peaceful parenting is likely beyond anything you can imagine possible. You can read about that here and here and here.
And one of my goals in life is to share this message of what’s possible, so that as many parents as possible will commit themselves to doing the hard but oh so rewarding work to get there!
I want you to know that you too can have what I and many other parents have!
Here's what Sally, from the UK, wrote after completing my Clean Parenting™ program:
"Before I did the Clean Parenting Program I was practising peaceful, respectful parenting but there was something missing and I was feeling burnt out.
Through doing Eliane’s amazing program I was able to find the missing jigsaw pieces and slot them into place. The program provided me with all the information, techniques, strategies and ideas I needed to become the parent I longed to be. But more importantly, it helped me to connect with my own inner wisdom and figure out for myself how to deal moment-to-moment with the challenges of my unique parenting journey.
Eliane does not just hand out textbook answers, but gently guides you towards finding your own answers in your own way, shining light on your blind spots and celebrating your strengths. The incredibly well thought out format of the program, with weekly modules, a Facebook group where participants can support each other, feedback from Eliane and group Skype calls, provided a safe, holding space, a kind of magic circle where real transformations could occur.