The Purejoy Parenting Blog
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.
Do you ever get frustrated with your kids when they refuse to do chores?
Most parents I meet have a belief that chores are important skill sets for kids to learn. And yet, they often push, pull, threaten, shame, or force their children to do them. Sound familiar?
Inherently, most children have a high value on play and being social.
Developmentally, they haven’t reached the stage where working and taking responsibility are high values. Understanding this gives you a “leg up” as a parent.
Instead of coming to the conclusion that they are lazy, selfish, and irresponsible when they balk at your request, use your creative adult capacities to link play and social to the task at hand.
Once you embrace this “secret sauce” you’ll support your child in learning a lifelong skill of linking what they don’t enjoy to something they do.
I know working out is good for my body and yet to be consistent I link it to my high value of being social therefore working out with a friend.
The same goes for cooking. I enjoy cooking as long as I’m doing it with others. Otherwise, it feels like a dreaded chore.
If you find your child resisting ask yourself what can I link to this task that make it more appealing to my child? Creating a positive association to a task registers in their neural pathways as pleasurable. When asked to do the task again there will be a greater chance of cooperation and intrinsic motivation.
I STILL hate to unload the dishwasher because of an early association around being pushed and forced to do something while missing out on the creative endeavors I longed to be doing. What about you?
Take some time this week, to experiment.
When asking your child to do a laborious task (for her/him) use your creativity to engage in doing it in a playful way. Take those lonely grueling tasks and create a social experience.
It’s always easier to do things with a friend or support.
Anything that is high on your values list will be easy and fun to do. Anything low on your values will be difficult without linking it to how it will support your higher values.
Use this little magic to create and support the cooperation you are seeking with your children.
In all my years, I’ve struggled with what I’m now calling “finishing the moment”.
Starting something new, I leave a trail of dust behind in my wake for I’m constantly onto the next shiny object in the distance.
Rarely, do I finish the moment I’m actually experiencing.
In my parenting, this shows up when my daughter is sharing a story about her experience. Instead of listening and opening to staying in the moment, with curiosity, I project her into the future and start talking to her as if she is actually there.
It is extremely challenging to enter the moment staying the course offering presence and support.
Inquiring into this habit I find a deep-seated belief that it is my responsibility to protect her from herself.
Instead of seeing my beautiful competent daughter, I project onto her a helpless, incompetent child that I NEED to protect.
Diving even deeper I see a reflection of my younger self in the mirror longing for someone to come rescue me from my precarious and painful home.
Dreaming of a future when I would have the ultimate control of my life was my saving grace as a child. Unfortunately, this early strategy was choking off the reality that my daughter was not being raised by my mom she was being raised by me.
Trying to control the outcome of the future never allowed for enjoyment of the exquisite experience of the moment. All that I longed for was right in front of my face and yet I struggled to see and embrace it.
I chose to travel a different path than my mom and facing into this truth finally awakened the possibility of “finishing the moment” I find myself in.
I’m finally able to slow down enough to cherish the moments with my daughter exactly how they are. Leaving the future and releasing the past I offer my deepest presence to this moment.
For truthfully, this is all I have.
After years of therapy and spiritual practice, I was sure I had the skills to be the parent I longed to be.
I pictured myself as a BIG open expansive heart energy surrounding my child supporting her to express her heart.
My visions filled me with delight and supported traveling halfway around the world to adopt my daughter from China.
One of my friends looked at me and said, “what a noble act of humanity” and yet the truth is the noble act was on my daughter’s part. She came back for me.
Little did I know I would be faced with all my attachments lingering deep in the corners of my conditioning.
I was attached to her doing what I wanted her to do…Attached to her seeing me as a “good” mom. Up arose my attachment to pleasing her so I wouldn’t feel abandoned and rejected.
I desperately needed her to validate my existence.
I was attached to what she ate, if she did her homework, if she was on the computer too long, and what she wore. Was she being a “nice” girl? Would people like her and invite her to parties?
I was attached.
I thought I was a free spirit who believed in others living their truth and autonomy and yet I was faced with the lie when it came to my daughter. It was a painful reflection.
I had wonderful ideas and concepts and yet the truth was I NEEDED her to be different than she was so I could feel OK about myself. Argggg!
The pain and rejection at times felt overwhelming and I found myself protecting myself by closing my BIG heart. NO!
And yet she came back for me! Never, did she turn on me as I turned on her?
She kept loving me….loving me…even when I hated myself….what?!
Slowly, I opened the door and faced those attachments that were strangling my love, my wisdom, and my heart longing.
As I opened I stepped into my adult capacities and showed up for my daughter. Confident and loving I took the seat of awareness and over time I’ve witnessed her struggles, successes, and delights as hers, not mine.
You can do this too!
I host a FREE tea time every other week to connect and share with you my secret sauce so come and join.
When your child is asking you for something, what if they aren’t looking for permission? What if they are looking for support, support in knowing their readiness to do something. Support in asking good questions to see if they’ve thought it through. Support to move towards their desires.
How would you be different if you knew this was true?
I know it’s a radical idea and yet I found when my daughter asked for something I quickly made it about me. What I heard was, “is that alright with you?” “will you give me permission”?
What she was actually saying was “will you support me in knowing myself?”
Instead of seeking permission she was asking for support to fulfill her desires.
If you are giving your child permission they will learn what is ok and not with YOU. They won’t learn what is ok and not ok with them.
This is a HUGE turn and yet when deeply inquiring into how to support my daughter living into her brilliance, I actually chose to listen to her.
I was used to hearing everything she expressed and running it through my filters of what it looked like to be a “good” mom. It was all about ME and responding from my needs.
That was a true wake-up call!
When I got clear she was looking for support I chose to be a clear reflection of what she was saying instead of the one who knew what was best for her. I chose to be a safe base she could count on to reflect her internal experience without making it about me.
Why? She wanted to know I believed in her, that I recognized her readiness especially when she was tentative to move towards those precious desires.
It’s extremely potent and powerful to be the mirror instead of the one giving permission.
Give it a try- the next time your child comes to you PAUSE.
Reflect back to them what they are saying, not what you hear through your filters.
Child: Mom, can I go to the mall to meet my friends?
Mom: Sounds like you want to go to the mall to meet your friends. Tell me more.
Child: We are planning on meeting and hanging out and I really want to do it.
Mom: I hear you really want to do it and feel ready. Does it feel safe to you? I won’t be there and don’t know your friends so how do you feel?
Child: Yep, they are my close school friends and we hang out at school all the time.
Mom: Ahh, You are going to hang out with your close friends from school. How about I give you a ride and meet them?
Child: That sounds great. Thanks, mom.
Offering her a reflection while asking her to tell me more gives me a sense of her readiness and also her thinking through the situation.
She gets to hear herself and I get to hear her thought process.
Instead of being in the seat of giving permission I take the seat of supporter.
I’ve had many experiences in my life, some joyful, others painful, and a whole wide range in between.
Mothering, in all its ups and downs, has been the most profound experience and continues to be so.
Little did I know what lay ahead when I traveled to China 21 years ago to adopt my daughter.
I honestly thought- ‘I am so ready for this experience. I’ve done my work and now I can show up as the BEST mom in the world.’
Looking back I see how naive I was about the road ahead of me, and yet my heart led the way.
That BIG Heart was calling me into a deeper, more profound experience in life.
I can imagine you know what I’m talking about. When the Heart calls, you listen.
Being a mom is definitely now and was then too a ‘Heart’ calling.
It made no sense that at 44 and single I’d embark on this journey and yet I did.
What about you and your journey?
My longing dreamed of creating an environment that supported my daughter coming into her full brilliance, living her life fully empowered in knowing herself.
Little did I know to make that dream come true I’d have to pass through the
“feeling abandoned and rejected” territory
right next to the “feeling powerless and helpless” stop.
Disappointment and despair were up ahead
followed by guilt and shame for wanting to turn back and give up.
What kept me going was my HEART energy that was leading the way.
Many times I threw my hands up beating myself up for taking the journey. Doubt flooded my heart and threatened to take me down. I didn’t believe I had what it took to truly offer my child the gift I’d longed to offer.
And yet I did.
And so do you.
If you are experiencing the difficult part of the journey, take Heart.
Slow everything down and enter into your Heart’s longing asking it to guide you along this path.
Especially, if you are feeling alone and scared reach out to me, a coach, a friend, a tree, and speak what is on your Heart.
Open to the possibility that your Heart knew exactly what it was doing when it said-
“I am going to be a mom.”
Lots of parents ask me, how do I set boundaries with my child?
It is a HUGE topic and one I’ve chosen to explore from my internal experience. Early on I saw how much easier it was to bind my daughter and her behavior than to take responsibility for setting my healthy boundaries.
The question entered my mind: What if I don’t need to bind and limit her?
Knowing as a child I didn’t like being bound I turned inward inquiring into why I was choosing to bind her instead of expressing what I was or was not willing to offer.
What I found was a refusal to set my healthy personal boundary because I’d been taught it was selfish to do so.
I was choosing to limit and bind my daughter instead of tolerating my discomfort when setting my personal boundary.
I was refusing to FEEL selfish and unsupportive so instead, I chose to make her the demanding entitled one who I needed to bind.
It was both enlightening to see this truth and also a bit daunting to explore another way of being.
My definition of a healthy boundary became “What is OK with me or not OK with me about how I treat myself” instead of “What is OK with me or not OK with me about how others treat me.” This alone turned my world upside down.
Discovering how self-aggressive I was to my needs especially when my daughter exhibited behavior that triggers discomfort inside, was painful to witness.
I told myself “I am a bad mom,” “I’ve failed my daughter”, “Something is wrong with me that I can’t get her to behave”….on and on I heard the voices that convinced me I needed to bind her.
Instead, I chose to turn inside and take ownership of how I was treating myself.
When my daughter was doing something that I perceived as unhealthy or triggered discomfort inside (such a watching too much computer) my first reaction was to limit and bind her. If I could get her to STOP the behavior then I was a “good mom”, a “successful mom”, “I was right”. I needed to bind her so I could be kind to myself. Now, that was a HUGE insight.
Slowing everything down noticing when I perceived behavior that triggered discomfort inside I deeply listened to the stories I believed to be true about ME. Questioning those stories of self-aggression I saw they were not true. Once this was clear I released my daughter from being the cause of my discomfort and realized it was an inside job.
I was terrified to claim that my needs were as important as hers welcoming her desires and truly only giving what I freely felt to offer. As I did though, clarity arose and I stepped out of the role of giving my daughter permission to be herself. I came alongside her supporting her exploration into knowing herself.
Frequently, we hear how important it is to parent from the present moment. This is extremely challenging as our conditioning has trained us to manipulate experience to achieve a particular future outcome.
Our children learn this also. We often call them manipulators because when they have a fantasy of some future goodie they desire, they will, for sure, manipulate the environment, the world, your mind, everything, to get what they want.
As parents, we also have a lot of wants for our children, for them to turn out a certain way. So if good food is a positive thing in our minds and we get them to do that, we think that they are going be healthy in the future. If we can’t get them off the computer we will tell ourselves that they are becoming addicts and will end up with fried brains.
Then, if we get them to eat good food and not hang for hours in front of a screen, we manipulate them to go out in nature. Getting out in nature then we want them to exercise. On and on it goes. Our brains are going all the time, “futurizing”, figuring things out.
Getting off this mental treadmill requires stepping into a moment of silence, meeting our children right here right now as if it is the only moment we have. Perhaps your mind says – That’s impossible. There is always another moment. But in actual fact, there is no guarantee of that.
This is my practice. As my daughter enters my room, before I start looking at how her hair is or ask where is she going, or query about her homework, taking a deep breath, I quiet my mind, breathing in her essence.
I offer this as a practice to you. When you see your child and your mind takes off telling you what they are or are not doing, or that the sight of them elicits pride or disappointment – just
Resist the urge to talk
Be quiet coming gently into your body sensations
Breathe in their essence, not their behavior, all the way down into your heart. Simply connect heart to heart with the beautiful essence of you and the beautiful essence of your child.
This is the mode many parents operate from.
The urgent feeling driving most of their behavior
The thoughts arise – “What if”
I don’t feed my child a good dinner at the table,
Don’t give him a bath every night,
Don’t brush her hair,
Don’t make him do his homework,
Don’t get her off that darn phone –
and on top of this now is the pandemic where all the kids are right there all the time and the stress pot bubbles over.
Do you recognize the feeling of not being able to slow down inside and therefore feeling incredibly responsible for every move your child makes?
The feeling driving that stress reaction is fear, and that fear gets projected out onto your child. She/he becomes the location of your fear.
I once read about a study measuring and comparing the energies of fear and excitement in the body. The researchers found out fear and excitement measured as exactly the same energetic charge. The difference was the story people were telling themselves about the charge.
When my daughter was younger I constantly felt overly responsible and exhausted.
Being the curious being that I am I checked out if this story was true in my SafeSeat. Releasing the story and simply feeling the energy in my body brought great insight.
With the story gone, I recognized that energy as pure life force, life force I wanted and needed for myself.
In those moments, I committed to releasing my daughter from carrying my fear. As I breathed out I grounded that pure energy down through my body into the earth. Breathing in I pulled the energy up through my heart transforming my fear into love offering itself in the nourishment of my soul.
The reason I am a Mama is to pass that love from me to my daughter, and yet when the fear is strong I experience a block, and instead of love, I project fear onto her.
Transforming that fear into loving energy I offer that love to myself, my daughter, and the world.
Feeding on love instead of fear makes a world of difference in my parenting.
I believe it will for you also.
Are you striving to be a more conscious parent, one that doesn’t punish, consequence or blame your child for their behaviors? Do you have a partner with more traditional views, or are your relatives and friends saying you are spoiling your child and ruining their chances for a successful life?
As a child, if you were parented in a more traditional way and are now moving out of that lane and finding yourself swimming upstream, insecurity about your choices may arise. Not knowing how this grand experiment will turn out is terrifying to the conditioned mind.
What if you are wrong? What if your partner, family or others are right?
When the “world” is telling you they are right and you are wrong, the urge to defend and justify yourself is strong. To reverse what is coming at you, desperately you cast others in the wrong and yourself in the right.
If you are feeling this way, try this: going deeply inside ask yourself what is my BIG “Why”? – why do I feel compelled to parent this way? Release the outside voices, tapping into your wisdom to deeply find your “Why”.
At the beginning of this parenting journey I defended and justified my parenting, because there was a part of me clinging to the familiar traditional norms, and stepping into the unknown was scary and uncertain.
Not knowing how my daughter would turn out I eventually chose to stop parenting for outcome and instead followed my HEART. I parented in the moment showing up for this innocent precious being discovering herself in the world.
I discovered my big “why” was to create an opportunity to exercise my clarity and wisdom, laying the ground for my daughter. Living into my brilliance I stopped subordinating to the culture around me.
I recognized as I followed my heart a good feeling arose and I offered this to my daughter instead of my conditioned fear. Folks, especially my family, thought I was crazy, and yes it was challenging not to defend and justify myself and become as righteous as I perceived they were.
Truth is, I didn’t know if I was right. I don’t know to this day if I did it right or wrong. In my deepest being, I only know that opening my heart to love my daughter and trusting her attunement to my open heart opened the door to her sharing her open heart right back at me. Ahhhhh! This is Purejoy.