When I finally stopped blaming my kids and my situation for my poor parenting choices, I felt a heavy weight of responsibility. These are the thoughts that ran through my head:
“What have I done?”
“Why is this so hard?”
“Why can’t I control myself?”
“Why can’t I be better than I am being?”
“I have so much work to do.”
“Where do I start?”
So how could I change? How could I evolve? With the weight of knowing that I had already done damage, it seemed too heavy. Could any of this be undone? So much stuff had to be relearned, both for me and my kids. Lots of blame came up. I blamed myself for failing as a parent.
I was confused and defeated. A year went by.
One fateful day I came to understand powerful truth. I am never going to stop trying…trying to be better for my kids. And that meant I was never going to stop working on myself. That was just the truth. In a way, this set me free.
I knew that staying in the blame wouldn’t do anyone any good, not me and not my kids. Perhaps the blame was natural, perhaps necessary. Maybe I needed to realize my role in creating a hostile environment. Maybe I needed to feel bad about it. But I couldn’t stop there, not if I wanted something better for my kids. I needed to take it to the next level. I needed progress. I realized that with this responsibility came opportunity.
Once it sunk in that I could be better for my kids, it was a no-brainer. I had to do something. For me, seeing the truth of the situation left me with no other option. I knew I wanted the best for my kids. I wanted to give them the best environment. That meant I had to take a hard look at myself, do things differently, and clean up my act and get really intentional. I also knew that once I had experienced this truth, my body, mind and soul wouldn’t let me off the hook. I knew this truth was going to stay with me, whether I wanted it to or not. I knew the idea that I could be better would come back again and again, in some way, consciously or subconsciously. I had no choice.
With no other choice, I decided to use the energy that I did have to create a better future for my kids. I decided to let go of the blame and self judgment. It was a tough balance to strike, to be better than I was yesterday, but to forgive myself when I came up short. I still fail. The only difference now is that I don’t let the negative energy from the failure consume me. I try to do the opposite. I used the energy to be better. This new acceptance I had of myself had an added bonus. Being patient with myself fostered more patience for my kids. Now, I mess up, apologize and move on. I don’t dwell on it. More acceptance of myself has translated in to more acceptance of my children.
Consider seeking help from a counsellor or therapist. We only get one shot at this. This is not a dress rehearsal. I went to see a counsellor about my anger and reactive behaviour. It definitely helped. But, to be honest, it took longer than I wanted. At times it was frustrating and defeating. The most frustrating thing was knowing that I wanted to be better, but still behaving in the same old way. It made me want to pull my hair out. It felt like a long time before I started to notice improvements.
My advice to you is to stay with it. AND, my other piece of advice is to celebrate your wins. If there are times when you feel like you are breaking a cycle or choosing a better path, then celebrate. Celebrate with yourself. Recognizing growth and progress is often hard for people who are hard on themselves.
But it’s this softening, this accepting, and loving of yourself that is going to allow you to do the same with your kids. Heal yourself. Love yourself. Repair your relationship with yourself, repair it with your child.
Lastly, you are not alone. Most parents are at different stages of waking up to this. It’s okay, we were never taught how to parent. However, you can only offer a home environment as healthy as you are. The difficulty of parenting might have come as a surprise to you too. It is hard. But you have two choices of what you want to do with that:
1. You can ignore and deflect, or 2. You can deal with it. Just an FYI, if you are trying figure out ways to fix your kids, you are likely in group #1.
Parenting starts with the parent. There are no quick fixes as far as I know. But, if you are reading this and considering rolling up your sleeves to do some work, then you are actually ahead of the game. If you are aware enough and honest enough to take a hard look at yourself, then you are on the right path. I help people find that path and stay on it. Contact me for Parent Coaching