Looking back, I had no idea that having kids would bring to the surface so many intense emotions and judgement that was simmering inside of me. But, kids have this remarkable ability to poke at our sore spots relentlessly. It felt like my hot buttons were constantly being pushed. I was not ready for this. I found myself in an intense and stressful parenting situation. You might be able to relate. This is especially the case if you come from a family where emotions ran high, where there was shame and blame, and you didn’t feel entirely safe.
Side note: Your hot buttons or triggers are things that make you lose your cool. They are things that make you react quickly and in an uncontrolled way. You can react in ways that you normally wouldn’t, if given the choice. Before you know it you are lecturing, blaming, or lashing out. It’s usually not pretty.
I realized that I was stuck in a place of feeling perceptually threatened. I did not feel safe. My default level of stress was high, even though I would have said that it was not. As a result, I could get triggered easily. The thing that triggered me was my child’s behaviour. I couldn’t deal with “disobedience”. It would push me over the edge. It wouldn’t take much of a push because I was close to the edge.
My belief system didn’t help. I thought my kids were out to get me or trying to intentionally disrespect me. This added to the stress. Feeling like this led me to acting impulsively and punitively, which only made things worse. If you get overwhelmed, blame, or act impulsively, you are likely acting from a place of insecurity yourself.
I knew enough to know that I had some issues. I could see my own behaviour and knew that I wasn’t being the parent that I wanted to be. That was clear. What was also clear was that I knew that I needed to evolve and grow or else I’d eventually alienate myself from my kids or them from me. I wanted so badly to just be different. But what I needed to do was to open my eyes and my heart to what my kids were showing me. In this vulnerable place, I would have been able to stop blaming my kids, and to see the truth.
It was me that was hurt. It was me that needed to accept myself. It was me that needed to gain skills in self regulation. It was me that needed to trust. It was me that needed to love without conditions. I needed to do this for myself, and for my kids.