Children are amazing and incredible and often teach us things that we didn’t even know that we needed to learn. Nearly every time when I have gone through a “rough patch” in my parenting when a child was in a tough developmental stage, I have realized every. single. time. that
It’s not them. It’s me.
If they are making me feel crazy, then I need to work harder. Their “stuff” is not my “stuff” and I need to work harder to separate myself from my feelings about it all. I find if I am holding on to something my children are doing it is because I am approaching something from a place of fear, or a place of being overwhelmed myself in ways that often have nothing to do with them, or a place of lack of self-care. Sometimes there is no opportunity to really rectify the lack of self-care or the overwhelm from outside circumstances.
So then I have to hold on to my inner work. And I have done that more successfully at some times than others, because I am only human.
I get mad. Or tired. Or worried. That’s life. But what matters most is what I do with it and how we come out of the valleys.
If you can use the lows to fuel your own self-care, your own growth in patience andin biting your tongue, in learning new gentle parenting techniques, in dealing with your own baggage, in improving your own intellectual approach to try to help guide things, then it becomes a positive experience.
Because it’s not about them, it’s about where you are and then how you use that to love and guide a child.
I often find the best way through the parenting patch of weeds or even simply having to watch your child go through a really hard time is up being outside, up being in nature, up using whatever spiritual tools you use, confide in a close friend, and just love your child. Connect with them in a one on one way. Connect with your partner for support if you have that available.
Small phases are small phases, and younger children are not going to grow up and be who they are in these phases that are so trying to parents. This is something that parents can recognize with more and more experience. When your first child is six or seven or eight, every single thing they do seems worthy of examination and scrutiny. Please know that for most circumstances it is all going to work out- for both your child and you!
For older children and teens, sometimes what is going on is more than a phase or a part of the child’s character that needs to be guided. It can be more serious than that. If it is indeed more serious problems that children and teens are dealing with – addiction, mental health episodes, being a danger to themselves or to others, dealing with dating abuse, abusive friendships – then these deserve a bigger response than just denial that it will all work out in the wash. Instead, what these older children and teens deserve is real and professional help in a timely manner. Know the resources in your community, and don’t be afraid to name what is going on and seek help.
There will be valleys in parenting, and there will be incredible moments. There will be holding on and letting go. The trick is to not lose yourself throughout this process, and to recognize the power of the individual journey.
Blessings and love,