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I've noticed a common and very sad thread in several conversations I've had recently.
These conversations were with mothers who are exceptionally dedicated to their children.
Who are committed to honoring their children's spirits.
Whose main concern is to not in any way interfere with their children's wholeness.
Who value the quality of their connection and their every interaction with their child above anything else.
Who succeed in the vast majority of the time in parenting in alignment with their extremely high values.
Who based on what I believe to be best for children are in the top 1% of best moms I've ever met.
I hear them say things like:
They're treating themselves in a way they'd never DREAM of treating their child!
If you do, I want to tell you that what you need to do, on the contrary, is pay MORE attention to your feelings. What are they telling you? What are the unmet needs that need to be addressed so that you can sustainably be the loving mom you aspire to be for you child?
In order for you to have harmony in your family, everyone's needs have to be met, INCLUDING YOURS!
If you don't take care of your needs, you'll end up being resentful, which will impact the quality of your relationship with your child. And you'll have a build up of unaddressed emotions which WILL blow up in often inappropriate and damaging ways.
You are NOT doing your child a favor by meeting his needs at the expense of yours. You're teaching him that his needs matter and yours don't. And that in order for one person's needs to be met, another's need to be ignored.
In order for your child to learn to successfully live socially, he needs to learn to look for win/win situations. And those can be found, the vast majority of the time, if we focus on identifying and meeting the underlying needs.
the consciousness at its core and the perspective it offers are in my opinion one of the most important one available to us in radically reducing emotional suffering AND improving all relationships.
I'll write more about the concept of needs vs wants, feelings and strategies in a future post, as I believe internalizing it is KEY in achieving harmony in your family.
Now back to my most caring, conscious moms.
There's another sad trend I've noticed and found myself talking a lot about recently.
And it has to do with when they 'mess up' as a parent.
I've been amazed and saddened at HOW MUCH they beat themselves up for what they do or don't do which is not in alignment with their parenting values.
And at how FEARFUL they are that they are damaging their child!
I had an absolutely incredible mom, someone I greatly admire, write the following to me this month:
“I’m filled with such guilt, remorse, and fear that I've irreparably damaged my daughter, her true self and her innate worthiness and her future ability to have peace and joy.”
"I have fear that because I didn't handle my stuff, she went from being whole and fully intact with all the strength, loveability, worthiness, fearlessness, etc. she had to now being permanently wounded. I’m afraid she’ll be like me, wounded and behaving in ways that she regrets through no fault of her own."
Is any of THIS resonating with you?
If it is and you're like the majority of my readers, you have done a fantastic job meeting your children's needs, even though a lot of yours were NOT met as an infant and child.
It's very challenging to meet another's needs when we have an unresolved store of unmet ones. I REALLY want you to recognize how much you ARE doing that, how much more you are giving your children considering what you didn't get!
Parenting in the loving, considerate and respectful way that you are is an incredible gift you are giving your children. And you are doing it in a society (and maybe even community and family!) which largely doesn't support and understand what you're doing, and may even be critical of it!
You REALLY need to HONOR YOURSELF for what you're doing for your children.
And as you focus more on meeting your needs and healing the residues from your childhood, you'll find that you'll organically parent more in alignment with your values.
Another thing I've found myself sharing numerous times, which seems to really hit home with those moms, is that our children are a lot more resilient than we are.
Because of the way they've been lovingly parented from birth, they don't have the same woundedness that we have!
As a result of it, they don't make the same conclusions out of our actions as we would have as children.
As my daughters got older, I got to have insight into this in my conversations with them.
So think of how this is playing out in your family. What is it that you're most afraid of, in terms of messing up your child, or when you fall short of your ideals?
Once you've identified that, look at your family life objectively, as if it was someone else's. And ask yourself if it's even possible for your child to experience your actions in the way you fear, to make the same conclusions about himself as you would have as a child.
(I'd LOVE to hear your answers! Please post them below if you're willing to share.)
My advice to these incredibly caring moms I've been talking to, who had contacted me to figure out how to be better moms, has been the following:
"You already are an AMAZING mom to your child! What you really need to do more than anything is to become a BETTER MOM TO YOURSELF."
"And for me to remind you of what an AMAZING job you're doing!!!"
And I REALLY want you to hear it as well if you've recognized yourself in what I've described in this article.
With much love,
Want my support in getting to a place where yours and your children's needs are fully met?
Then join me in my next Clean Parenting™ group!
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3/1/2014 08:00:01 am
Thank you! This is just what I needed to read tonight. Like so many mothers I know, I am constantly judging myself and feeling guilty for showing my frustration, upset and anger in front of my child in fear of damaging her in some way. I grew up in a volatile house and I have never had resentment over these things with my parents so why I am doing it to myself? To answer your question in messing up my child...I'm most afraid I will take away her ability to be herself, to love whole heartedly as she does now, to stop her seeing the humour and fun in things, and scared she will see only the negative things in the world and not the good things too. I'm a rather anxious person and would hate for her to turn into a big worrier like me
3/1/2014 09:54:20 am
Thank you for responding Lola! I love to hear back when I write. :-)
3/1/2014 06:19:30 pm
thank you SO MUCH for this. not a surprise at all but an awesome reminder!
3/2/2014 12:52:33 am
Thank you Shannah! I'm so glad that my article resonated with you and hope that it made you feel a little better about yourself as a mama.
3/1/2014 07:05:52 pm
Thank you for this article. Made me cry...not sure if that was because it really hit home. It's tough trying to get it right and focus on my happiness as well as my son...I get a bit focused on his feelings only. :0)
3/2/2014 12:58:52 am
Thank you SO MUCH for your reply, Shenell! I feel that we so need some REAL emotional support as committed moms and it's my purpose to find ways to give it to you.
3/2/2014 08:44:34 pm
I have 3 children Ages 7, 4, and 18 months. I have been trying to become a more positive parent since my second child arrived and the first real difficulties arose. I wasn't able to become really successful at it until like you said I started parenting myself. I'm not anywhere near perfect and still make many mistakes but it's starting to get a little easier over time to forgive myself, apologize to my children, and try again. I really think you hit the nail on the head with this article. If you don't parent yourself and allow yourself to be human and learn to forgive yourself it will be harder to fully connect with your children. I have these fears all the time when I make a mistake that I have ruined my children for life and that they will be as messed up as I am. That is one of my biggest fears as a parent. I do believe that children are resilient and that it's very important to be open and honest with children. Apologizing to your child and learning to forgive yourself are the first steps to really making a change. I've seen the progress I've made in my own life. By learning to take better care of my own emotional wounds and parenting myself I've become more accepting of my children's faults and a more compassionate parent.
3/2/2014 11:49:28 pm
That's beautiful Shalise! Thank you so much for sharing. I completely agree with everything you say. In fact I'd already started writing some of it for my next blog article!
3/7/2014 09:35:16 am
This article is such a wonderful reminder to Mothers that it is possible to be a Mother to yourself as well. Since we are so good at taking care of others, it should logically follow that we should turn these skills on ourselves from time to time. My biggest fear/wound when it comes to my children is that they will feel like I don't advocate for them. I always want them to know that they are unconditionally loved and supported by me. My parents lacked the skills they needed to balance their marriage, work and home lives, and as a result their children suffered for it. I don't want my girls to grow up in a home where they feel resented and blamed for the things that are happening to someone else. I think that you really nailed it on the head when you said that we need to show our children that we love and respect them and their needs, but part of raising resilient, self-sufficient, happy children is teaching them BY EXAMPLE how to respect and love themselves. Thank you so much for writing all of this. :)
3/12/2014 03:49:49 am
Thank you so much for your response, Stacey! Both for your insight and your openness in sharing your fears.
11/9/2014 05:31:23 am
Yes, this is definetely me! The feeling of 'my children deserve the BEST mom and a scarf-free soul on the one hand and my own wounded inner child, me, knowing I was never good enough and wont be good enough no matter how hard I try, valuing anything I do wrong much much higher than anything I do right, thinking it is not to mention what I do right. If you knew how you got me here, most of my Work on myself is ds birth is to stay balanced in myself, not wasting energy I dont have and having my needs met. It is incredible how my kids are fine with me doing so, even happier. I do not rush or hurry indoing my stuff anymore, I do it in peace, interuptions welcome if needed, but actually the kids enjoy being around me enjoying my things, they play much more peacefully around me than before. Not saying I can read a book for hours, more when I am busy around them in an active way. Still when I am not the mom I want to be I beat myself up, weak point... Need a deeper healing program :)
11/9/2014 07:00:01 am
Let your words sink in and want to say what a huge difference yiur words on valuing situations due to ones childhood make... So logical but never came to my mind! What a heavy load off my shoulders that not every mistake I make has severe damage as a consequence cause my kids may judge things differently than I do automatically! Wow! Yes! Just had that yesterday: we were walking in the woods and a man with horses came our way. We saw him before, he is told to be a little 'strange'. Not too friendly. He is passing our house often training his horses on the waggon, well they pull a wagon, know what I mean, ah my english... So Leonie wanted to ask to ride a way on the waggon, I told her we could ask but that the man is not always open and friendly and asked if shed be sad if he said no, or dussapointed. She said no she wont, maybe he didnt sleep enough or watchef too much youtube and is therefore balabala... So I would have valued his behaviour as against me, personal, would have hurt me and left me confused, she did not at all see that stenario in any way related to her! In the end : he gave us a ride all the way home, seemrd happy we wee so interested in his work with his horses, was calm but very friendly. And even though I had it right before me I never made the logical conclusion you did! Thank you again!
9/26/2015 07:43:39 am
Melanie!!! I can't believe I never responded to you! I'm so sorry.
3/1/2015 11:26:21 am
I am crying...does this mean I don't have to go hungry any more? Because there is not time to feed me. ...I have food allergies so I have to make a lot form scratch. I wake up at night and have to eat, some times 2 times because I did not get enough to eat during the day. I struggle to justify my needs...In public school all elementary years I did not do enough school work ...so I was not allowed recess, music, gym, art, lunch, library, some years even science and social studies, math, ect and defenetaly no time with other kids. I was often in the book room storage. I was taught everyone gets to do ( anything ) but it is not for me. I cant find my way out of it.
3/2/2015 12:41:41 am
Erika, it's heartbreaking for me to read your post, to imagine this young child not allowed to do anything enjoyable. You unequivocally should NOT have to go hungry. You matter. Your needs matter. Your quality of life matters. You are as deserving as your children are of all things good as well as basic.
6/6/2015 03:20:52 am
Thank you for this article. I have been going to a parent coach for several years to learn different strategies for handling some of my innate ways of dealing with conflict. I often beat myself up how I have handled situations with my children. I feel like I am harming them during these very foundational years. My coach is often trying to help me with this same issue...its tough, but I am softening up on myself a bit as I am becoming more confident in changing how I parent. The more I read the better I feel:) Thank you!
6/7/2015 02:01:20 am
It's so lovely hearing from you, DiDi! How lucky your children are that you're so committed to being the best mom you can and even working with a coach to support you in it.
9/25/2015 11:51:24 am
Thank you for this article. Do you have practical tools for moms who are learning (albeit slowly) how to forgive themselves? I came to a more positive parenting strategy a bit later and I'm still making a lot of mistakes. Being mindful of them, I know the triggers for me, but am not always ahead of them to stop the "bad mommy" moments. Not being able to forgive myself often leads to a few more of those.
9/26/2015 05:44:14 am
Thank you for writing, Emily. And how wonderful that you were able to and willing to change your parenting midway! Your children are very lucky for that.
12/7/2015 10:55:04 am
Thank you for this post! It's one of the sign posts along the way encouraging us on, yes, we are headed in the direction of our deepest intentions. It's so interesting to me that at times I feel that nurturing my child feels so nurturing to me, as she is such a reflection of me, but that when I neglect my deepest needs I stop nurturing myself and even though I may be going through the motions of caring for her, it isn't authentic because part of me is checked out and looking to get my needs met elsewhere, and not necessarily consciously. There are so many layers here! Thank you again for your words and presence and support!
12/7/2015 11:13:57 am
Thank you for taking the time to comment, Heather! I often say that our children are little angels, come here to help US become whole. Because the only way we can truly be the parents we want to be to them is to learn to honor our own needs and emotions. And our children also tend to highlight our wounds that get in our way of being deeply happy, by triggering them and mirroring us. And once we do the healing work needed to resolve those triggers, suddenly we get to experience what we've so wanted for our children, but wouldn't have put the time in just for ourselves: feeling happy, fulfilled and worthy. It's not an easy road, but it's so worth it!
12/29/2015 09:33:26 pm
This my favorite article of yours!! I think it was the second one i read of yours when i discovered you. I actually at the time was reading the nvc book you recommend so along with everything else you mentioned it justhit home. I will definitely share this with my mommy friends. Its one i thnk every mommy needs to hear or read.
7/29/2017 08:09:38 pm
I felt like these were God's words directly to my heart. Thank you so much!!
7/29/2017 08:16:14 pm
You're so welcome, Sarah. ♥
10/8/2017 05:27:21 pm
Well im in a mess right now. I' ve been putting my needs behind for 4,5 years, my husband doesnt help at all and im soooo tired and stressed that i snap at everything. My 4,5 son wont let me rest at all...he s in me all day long asking for smt, talking nonstop, and lately jumps on me to wrestle...my body cant handle it, i cant handle it...i ve started yelling but he doesnt stop...yesterday i burst into tears and he still wouldnt stop...im so confused. Plz help
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