What is parenting? Most of us will have our different version of answers to this question depending on our beliefs, our upbringing and our values. But what about what parenting isn’t? Let me explain.
No one likes to feel suppressed yet I see the results of a suppressed childhood on many occasions. A mother who grew up with overpowering parents and was taught to do as she was told as a child, she learnt to please her parents to keep the peace, stay out of trouble and be a ‘good girl.’ Now into her forties she has a need to have control over her own environment and those around her. She demands strict order and her three children are all responding differently. One is just like her and overpowers his siblings. One has shut down and tries to keep the peace whilst the youngest is rebelling and feeling suppressed at the force placed upon her. There is a lack of cooperation in the household and resentment is rife between family members.
Another real life example is a grown man whose own father was big in statue and so used his large size, added to a raised voice to keep his sons in line. So this man now parents his children in the same manner, often hearing his father’s voice in his head, demanding his children obey him.
There is little respect or bond between him and his children but this method works in the short term. And even though he knows the pain of being on the receiving end of this parenting he doesn’t know any other way.
There are a few points I am trying to make here. One is the pattern of negative behaviour and how easily it can be passed on from generation to generation. Secondly is how emotionally we haven’t evolved very far in comparison to the growth of technology for instance. There is still a pattern in overpowering each other and we can easily copy this behaviour in parenting because it works for us as parents in getting what we want done. But parenting isn’t about telling our children what to do and using our size, raised voice or controlling ways to get the result we want.
What if we parented from a perspective of equality? Putting ourselves in our children’s shoes. How would it feel to be on the receiving end of our demands? What would that feel like? What if we parented with accountability of our own emotional growth or lack of? Are there some onion layers we need to peel back, letting go of some of our own baggage so we can parent without carrying forward old patterns? What if an aspect of parenting was an opportunity to change these old ways, to free ourselves of the need to control or overpower. To develop a relationship without dominance but one of understanding each other leading to a more independent child and a less stressed parent.
For me what parenting isn’t is as equally important and as what parenting is. I want to teach my children to grow by watching me grow as a person but most of all as a mum. To treat them as equal human beings with feelings with a need to feel heard and respected. To continue to grow in my role as a parent knowing I have the perfect teacher’s right there in front of me to do just that.
If you need to peel back some of those onion layers and parent in a way which develops an ongoing relationship of equality with your children, please feel free to contact me.