The Purejoy Parenting Blog
When I adopted my daughter I was SURE I had it all together. I was going to be the best parent in the world and I was READY for my mission. So, when I found myself in the weeds struggling to get my 4-year-old to listen, I noticed that I was withdrawing love and protecting my heart. This led to a deep inquiry about what was going on inside my heart and why did I feel the need to protect it from this beautiful being that I so longed to give it to?
One of the main reasons I adopted my daughter was to give and receive love. And yet, it felt like when I offered my big beautiful heart to her it hit up against her protection and bounced back. Feelings of rejection and abandonment arose and instead of turning towards her, I turned against myself believing I was a rejectable person.
The pain in my heart that I’d held down since childhood was rising to the surface and honestly, I didn’t know what to do with that pain except to blame my daughter. I closed my heart to seeing hers.
Maybe, you’ve had the same experience?
Like you didn’t even know you had certain pain points until your child brushed up against them?
The pain only increased the more I saw it as her fault refusing to take responsibility and ownership for my pain. I expected her to be different and offering the love I was seeking while refusing to open my heart until she did. I found myself acting as the child and expected her to be the adult.
Over time the pain from closing my heart grew to create a distance between my heart and my daughter’s that was unbearable.
I chose to take responsibility for my actions and slowly dismantled the protection I’d needed as a child showing up with my open heart for my child.
I’d forgotten the power of my vulnerable heart longing to give and receive love. This is what parenting has given me, an opportunity to remember my vulnerable heart opening to all that arises.
I slowly felt safe enough to share my unbridled love without needing my child to receive it in the way I thought she should. I opened to fill myself with the exquisite vulnerability I’d hidden away.
You can turn back in and offer yourself the gift of your vulnerability which eventually will lead you to sitting it the seat of kindness for yourself and your child.
What a gift.
What inspires you in your parenting? Someone asked what inspires me and it brought a big smile to my face. How do I keep moving forward with the inspiration they asked? What drives me to keep opening my heart daily?
The truth is it is an honor and a privilege to parent my young adult daughter. She didn’t ask me to adopt her. I chose to adopt her and every day, even though I’ve been challenged over and over, I bow down to the opportunity to be her mother. What a gift I’ve been offered.
I was 44 years old when I adopted her and was in some ways set in my ways. I’d had all the freedom to live my life however I wanted and all of a sudden I was faced with the opportunity to experience that I wasn’t the center of the universe. I chose to see the world through my daughter’s eyes and it was an eye-opener for sure. I got the chance to live in the “present” moment and let me tell you it was HARD.
As an adult, I prided myself on living in the present moment, and yet once I was a parent all my thoughts were focused on the future. Who will she become? Will she be successful? Will she fit in? On and on my mind took over fantasizing about the future forcing me to leave the precious present moment my child was so willing to show me.
Relaxing I offered myself the opportunity to see through her eyes. Letting go of my agenda I opened to the exquisite feeling of living in the moment. Instead of trying to project my perceptions on my daughter, I entered into hers. Miraculously, I saw she had her own timing, rhythm and knowing of herself. Why would I want to take this away? Why would I want her to enter my world of competition and lack?
I was given this blessing to enter the world of another recognizing her unique expression and offering it to the world. Why would I want her to “think” the way I did? Instead, I opened the door to listening to her views, watching how she experienced the world and I was filled with amazement.
I realized needing my child to end up a certain way to justify my efforts placed the joy of being her mother in the outcome instead of the day-to-day thing I got to do which was witnessing her unique brilliance.
Give it a try.
This week, imagine putting on the glasses of each of your children seeing the world through their eyes.
Without judgment, see if you are willing to discover the world they see asking questions and being curious.
Even though it might not match your perception open to the wonder of a new view. It might trigger discomfort and if it does welcome this curiously asking yourself if your view is the “right” view or are you willing to open to a new possibility. Open to the wonder of a new view giving yourself the experience of Purejoy.
Have you ever considered the intense pressure your child feels to meet your needs? If not, let’s take a little time to explore.
You tell them what to do when to do it, how to do it, and where to do it many times a day.
And yet you “couch” it in terms of all of this is for their well-being.
“You need to eat your food, you need to put on your shoes, you need to do your homework, You need to get off the computer, You need to do your chores, You need to hurry up, You need to listen to me…..”
And yet, what if you actually owned that these are your needs?
“I need you to eat your food, I need you to put on your shoes, I need you to do your homework, I need you to get off the computer, I need you to do your chores, I need you to hurry up, I need you to listen to me.”
Imagine hearing these needs all day long. Wouldn’t you feel the pressure and intensity?
Now, of course, you can defend and justify thinking they are for your child’s wellbeing, and yet is this absolutely true?
Are you sure it doesn’t have anything to do with your needs and desires for your children?
What if this was about your need to be a “good” mom or dad more than focusing on your child’s needs.
Could that be even more true?
What happens when they don’t do the things you need them to do? Do you feel disappointed and frustrated, rejected or unsuccessful? Then most likely they are your needs and not your child’s.
Once you release your child from the pressure of meeting your emotional needs you can come alongside them to support their experience.
It is not black or white. Of course, they need support to do certain things in life and yet if the pressure is coming from outside instead of encouraged internally you’ll most likely hit resistance or defiance.
What if you see them through a different lens?
Of course, you want to be healthy, of course, you want to be safe, of course, you want to be successful. And, yes you are young and living in the moment where I’m often living in the future. See what it is like to step into the present moment with your child intimately connecting with their desires and intrinsic motivation. Take the risk of asking them “what do you need?”
It’s quite precious to come alongside your child listening and hearing their desires and dreams. Seeing them from this ground of loving themselves opens the door to your heart allowing you to show up offering your child the support they need to live into their brilliance.
I never thought of myself as an arrogant person. Honestly, I had quite the judgment about folks I perceived as arrogant. Then I became a parent! YIKES.
Arrogance showed up quickly and furiously when my daughter didn’t behave in ways that supported my idea of being a “good” mother.
Before I had children my arrogance showed up in judging other parents. I looked down on them when their children misbehaved and felt superior in my role as a therapist to teach them how to control their children. Oh my! I’ve met so many mamas, especially teachers, therapists, and coaches that discovered the same thing.
When they are YOUR children an intense magical dance ensues where you find yourself taking things personally and being given the opportunity to transform and transmute your early stories or drive yourself crazy trying to control your kids.
The most difficult part was when my arrogance expressed itself as being the “all-knowing” adult who my daughter needed to listen to, which she refused. Now, the judging turned inward, and daily I was beating myself up for failure as a conscious loving parent. I was taken to my knees feeling humiliated by my daughter’s behavior. It took time and a lot of kindness to step into humility laying down my arrogant stand.
Proving myself to my family and the greater culture reared its head and even though I told myself I didn’t care what they thought it wasn’t true. So, I found myself arrogantly pressuring my daughter to be the child I needed her to be so I wasn’t a failure. When triggered I would convince myself that I was doing the “right” thing by pushing, pulling, or forcing her to do what I needed to be done. It was a nightmare.
Finally hitting a brick wall I lay down my mantle of arrogance entering the realm of humility. In this new land, inquiry led me to ask: “why do I need my daughter to reflect my success?”, “Why do I need her to make me feel loved?” When adopting her I committed to offering her unconditional love and support yet my actions were giving her the message that she was responsible for my happiness and loving me the way I needed. I had tied my lovability to her actions.
Humility showed the way to meet my arrogance with love and kindness for it was rooted in deep insecurity that I was unlovable. As I saw through the eyes of humility I bowed down in gratitude that I was given the gift of being my daughter’s mom.
Slowly, releasing my need to care for others by taking care of their discomfort I moved into an experience of unconditional confidence that I was TRULY loved and therefore could now offer my daughter what I always longed to. Walking beside this exquisite being has been the greatest joy of my life. Purejoy.
Do you ever think your child didn’t come with an instruction manual? Well, what if they did and yet you aren’t interested in reading it? Why would this be?
In my experience, my parenting manual (conscious loving mother) often gave contradictory instructions to her innate knowing and instructions. Determined to follow mine I often felt like I was trying to put a round peg in a square hole. It was painful for both.
Slowing down I finally noticed that she was giving me cues all the time. Getting curious as to “how” she operated vs “how” I wanted her to be to make me comfortable was radical.
She has her own timing, rhythm, preferences and high values. When I experienced these as a threat to my manual I judged her and needed her to follow my instructions. Not a great set-up for co-operation or honoring her being. I’ll never forget when she was 6 years old and we’d had an argument. I desperately asked her, “How am I supposed to touch your heart if you won’t let me in?” Intensely glaring back she said “Mama, there is a tiny crack in my heart and it is your job to get through it.” Phew! In that moment, I woke up and thought this is up to me to know her not the other way around.
I heard myself saying, “I need you to brush your teeth, I need you to put your pj’s on, I need you to eat good food, I need you to get off the computer, I need you to let me in your heart. On and on it went and yet when I turned around and asked, “What do you need?” Everything changed.
My daughter describes those early days as “My mama was putting her “wantings” on me and when she stopped and turned towards my “wantings” everything changed” My attention turned towards how to enter my daughter’s world understanding her instruction manual. It’s an amazing journey and often not easy for her instructions don’t always look the way I WANT them to. When this happens I turn back towards my “wantings” asking myself, “If she filled all my needs what would that give me?” I would feel loved, appreciated and cared for. Ahhhhh! I was questioning her love which was never a question for her.
Slowing down, closing your book of instructions and getting curious about your child’s cues, are you willing to ask, “what do you need? How do you need me to enter your heart? How do you need me to enter your space?
What’s your rhythm? What’s your timing? When do you feel safe? When do you feel loved?” It’s profound.
Releasing your child from the “need” to feel loved opens your heart to their beauty giving you the opportunity to show up as the parent you want to be, the adult empowered parent that creates an environment for the exquisite child in front of you. As you follow their instruction manual they will reveal their brilliance in their unique way.
When your child doesn’t listen, won’t get in the car seat when you ask nicely, or won’t get ready to leave the house what happens inside you? Does it feel like an emotional threat? Do you feel anger? Most parents express how frustrated they are especially since their children should KNOW what to do.
Let’s dive a little deeper. Anger is a secondary emotion that protects the more vulnerable feelings hiding underneath. When your child doesn’t do what you asked them to do often feelings of powerlessness, helpless and even rejection rise to the surface.
If you’ve spent most of your adult years organizing your life not to feel those feelings you will take your child’s behavior as a personal threat. How dare they get through the fierce protection you have around your tender heart. NO one is supposed to get in there without your permission. And yet, they do and you find yourself overwhelmed and feeling about 3 years old.
Now, think about this. What if it didn’t matter what you think or what you feel in that moment? YIKES! Of course, you have identified that you ARE your thoughts and feelings so when your children innocently bump up against those stories and feelings you find yourself struggling to take control.
What if you just feel what you feel and think what you think and yet don’t come to any conclusions about your child? Impossible? Actually, it is quite possible when you bring your attention to the present moment. When you are emotionally triggered by your child’s behavior you are digging up the past and bringing it into the present. When the feelings are really intense instead of staying with them you then project them into the future.
What if in the moment you relaxed and entered the intimacy of the moment? Just show up for what is without any conclusion about you or your child? Now, this is a practice, and remember you’ve practiced judging and projecting into the future for a long time.
So, offer yourself patience as you commit to entering the moment, giving up your story of the past or future. Drop into that BIG heart of yours watching your child through the lens of love. Of course, they are young and need a LOT of reminders and yet once you surrender taking it personally it is a joy to come alongside them in their self-discovery of who they are.
Then you can turn towards your child asking them about what support they need instead of asking them to support your comfort by being the child you want them to be.
I have a saying that goes, “It’s never about what you think it is about”.
What I mean by this is it’s never about the computer use, or the food, or even the homework.
I know, I know. It sure seems like it is about those things, yes?
When you think it is about the story, such as the computer is BAD, you get very, very focused on demonizing the computer. And, of course, you want to control your child’s use because the feelings you experience inside yourself are extremely uncomfortable.
Your stories about what your kids are doing or not doing are then piled on top of those uncomfortable feelings, and you very innocently believe the external is causing those feelings inside.
Dropping down into the feelings- you feel powerless and helpless. When you feel those feelings you project them onto the computer and your child for enjoying it so much.
The truth is, those feelings live inside you and have been with you all of your life.
The external just awakens those feelings, and yet isn’t the cause.
Feeling powerless and helpless as a young child is very different than having those feelings as an adult. If you weren’t supported to move through those feelings when you were young and they get activated in your parenting now, you’ll fall into very early strategies of trying to control the external to make them go away.
It’s scary to feel powerless as a parent! So, often, we power over with our behavior instead of turning towards the fear inside.
We have this idea, or conditioning, that as parents we should be the all-powerful and the helpful ones. Believing this doesn’t allow us to show up in the present moment, coming alongside our children as they begin to learn and know themselves.
In Purejoy our focus is on knowing ourselves and supporting our children to do the same.
It’s not about knowing what Purejoy would do, or what the conscious parent would do.
It’s all about knowing yourself, trusting your intrinsic internal wisdom so that you can show up in reality instead of showing up for your beliefs and ideas of how it “should” be.
It’s so incredibly empowering to meet your children where they are, instead of
“thinking it’s about what you think it’s about” and getting caught in the story, getting caught in the computer, or they’re not eating, or the homework.
Practice this week seeing what feelings are driving your behavior and therefore your need for control.
PAUSE moving in with curiosity in the present moment coming alongside your child in their discovery of who they are.
Underneath the wall of rage, we walked through last week, are early, early feelings of abandonment, rejection, powerless, and helplessness.
These are the precious feeling jewels you stored away as a young child believing they were somehow dangerous since when expressing them through your behavior you were punished or shamed.
Unfortunately, in our culture ‘good behavior’ is the gold standard which in turn means there is very little compassion or support for the tender feelings that drive so-called ‘bad behavior’.
Those precious feelings got a bad rap and therefore you trained yourself to relegate them to the basement of your psyche.
This was a smart move as a child and yet when you have children of your own, and they express those tender feelings through behavior- it triggers those repressed feelings in you.
No wonder you want to protect your child from having those feelings if you still believe they are dangerous! Without even questioning your belief you’ll find yourself doing to them what was done to you and wondering how this happens?
You committed to being a conscious loving parent and yet hear your mother’s harsh
voice coming out of your mouth when your children behave in triggering ways.
Or on the other side, you find yourself feeling held hostage by your child’s BIG emotions and forget you even have a personal boundary or could possibly take care of yourself.
In Purejoy the definition of a personal boundary is -what’s ok and what’s not ok with me about how I treat myself. A personal boundary is not about how others treat me- ultimately I only have personal empowerment, I cannot control what others think, feel or do. So I bring that boundary inside and make it about how I want to treat myself.
When controlling my child’s behavior, I am binding the expression of her present moment feelings, in hopes, she’ll take care of me keeping those dangerous feelings inside repressed.
On the flip side, giving up and giving in, I refuse to set a healthy boundary, being unwilling to feel selfish, abandoning and rejecting with my child.
Have you ever heard yourself say, “I don’t want my child to feel (insert feeling)?”
Feelings are like waves in the ocean. They come and they go.
They are not who your child is.
And yet, if as a parent you identify your child as rude or mean when they are feeling powerless or aggressive and defiant when they are feeling afraid your child will identify that they ARE mean and rude or aggressive and defiant.
They’ll learn to hide their precious jewels away just like you did as a child.
This story gets passed down from generation to generation and now it’s time to rewrite the story.
The way to do this is to open your vulnerable heart to all the waves of feelings you learned to repress as a child.
Stop, identifying those feelings as being WHO you are.
They are the doorway to your HEART and through committing to your SafeSeat practice you create a safe space to turn towards those feelings with loving-kindness instead of shame and guilt.
Eventually, you become the act of kindness watching the waves come and go knowing who you really are is the OCEAN itself.
RAGE is a terrifying emotion to turn towards with kindness.
RAGE, in my family, was explosive and volatile and often expressed in destructive ways.
Having experienced the destructive behavior of a raging mom I organized my life to never feel this powerful emotion out of an imagined fear that I would behave like her.
Adopting my daughter I never even considered that RAGE would awaken from the depths of my being. Burying it deep down in my psyche along with feeling powerless, helpless and rejected was my young strategy to survive. Closing the doorway to my vulnerable HEART was second nature, so much so that I never considered motherhood would fiercely blow the door to smithereens.
Somehow, in my naivety, I imagined I would only express loving, happy feelings as a mom. I’d waited for what felt like an eternity to find the courage to realize my desire to be a mother. Having done a tremendous amount of therapy and spiritual work I felt confident that I had slayed the RAGE dragon which haunted me from childhood.
I longed to give my daughter the emotionally safe environment I’d never experienced and had a belief that to do this RAGE was not welcome in our home.
And yet, RAGE became the doorway to my HEART: the great awakener.
The more I tried to limit my daughter’s behavior the stronger her RAGE expressed itself. I was “in the weeds” and all my early strategies to slay the dragon only fueled her RAGING fire more. I tried timing it out, pleasing and placating, consequencing and punishing, bargaining and rationalizing, offering love and understanding and yet none of my strategies penetrated her vulnerable HEART.
Only when I bravely looked in the mirror and saw the RAGE was mine did I finally walk towards it naked and vulnerable offering it the recognition and validation it was desperately seeking. My RAGE was the gatekeeper of my tender young vulnerable HEART longing to be seen and held. Honoring it as the great protector allowed me to enter into the deep recesses of my psyche to liberate my precious tender HEART waiting to return home.
My daughter was the bearer of the greatest gift of all. She illuminated my RAGE by expressing hers. Finally, understanding the function of RAGE in myself I could see it in her.
Today, I courageously walk towards RAGE offering my tender vulnerable HEART at the door and amazingly it opens to reveal the innocent longing waiting be held and seen for who I truly am: LOVE.