The Purejoy Parenting Blog
Before becoming a Mom, I was incredibly judgy when observing how others parented.
Witnessing parents getting angry with their kids and trying to control them, activated a secret sense of pride inside – I was SURE as a parent, I’d do it so differently. Perhaps the same thought lived in you before you started your parenting journey?
In fact, part of the inspiration for becoming a parent at all, was giving myself the opportunity to ‘do it right’. Having grown up in a dysfunctional home, I did countless hours of therapy, read every book I could get my hands on and entered a spiritual inquiry practice. To top that off I waited until I was 44 convincing myself I was finally mature enough NOT to be my mom. ! HA! I was determined to get this RIGHT.
I stepped into the reality of motherhood! Seeing my motivation was often to “get it right”, according to what the experts claimed was the way to parent, led to mistrusting my deep wisdom. Suffering a deep inner divide led to blaming my daughter for my failure.
Having mental templates of what I thought I was supposed to do, rubbing up against my unique knowing, suppressed a simple intimacy and support for expressing my brilliance.
Reading the parenting experts, I felt chided about being permissive and letting my child get away with things. And yet following their advice created an environment in which I stepped over my boundaries, abandoning my inner wisdom and therefore my daughter’s.
Thankfully, my daughter rejected all the techniques I threw her way. She wasn’t interested in pleasing me. Even though secretly I was overjoyed she wasn’t taking on the pleasing behavior, I’d taken on as a child, I wasn’t able to openly own my knowing in public. When she acted out in public I threw her “under the bus” since I so desperately wanted to fit in and look like I was doing it “right”. I longed for the approval of others more than trusting my knowing.
But in truth, the experts aren’t parenting your particular child, with their unique needs and expression. For my family, I chose to create an environment in which we could both express our unique brilliance, without being caught in the conditioning of being who others wanted us to be.
Are you up for trying something challenging this week?
When feeling discomfort in relation to your child – they are on the computer too long, won’t get to be on time, or refuse to eat your well-balanced meal – lean into and underneath the discomfort. Instead of feeding the mental ideal of how things are supposed to go, take a moment to put yourself in your child’s position. How would you behave if you were totally immersed in something – your work or even a movie – and your child walks in, demanding you to stop what you are doing RIGHT NOW, telling you in so many words that you are a disappointment if you don’t. What happens inside? Would you feel like cooperating in meeting their needs?
Now replay that scene tapping into your inner wisdom while seeing how you want to be approached and treated. Is it different than the experts, your conditioned idea, or what “being right” tells you to do.? Or not? (Remember, not to look through the lens of right or wrong…..just honest truth.)
Looking forward to hearing how it goes.
Creating a gratitude practice is BIG in the conscious parenting world.
Reflecting on my early training in regards to expressing gratitude, it felt more like an obligation. Receiving a gift, advice or guidance from an adult, whether I liked it or not, the expectation was to say “thank you”. A learned a habit rather than expressing from a wellspring of true feeling became the norm.
Trained to value and be grateful for what was deemed “positive” while rejecting and demeaning what was perceived as “negative” by others created a division inside.
In recent years I’ve experienced another kind of gratitude. As I seek equilibration in my perception, including both sides of every experience, the positive and negative, I experience acceptance and appreciation for the totality of what is.
In parenting, embracing both sides is often not an option. Our conditioning supports expressing gratitude for positive “good” behavior in children while rejecting what we perceive as negative or “bad” behavior. Innocently we pass down this perspective to our kids, training them to the one-sided “thank you” that denies the intrinsic, beautiful gratitude that emerges spontaneously as you open to both sides of an experience.
This viewpoint is especially challenging when believing it’s your responsibility to teach your children how to behave in an appropriate manner so others don’t experience discomfort. You’ll experience and show gratitude only when they behave the way that makes you feel comfortable.
At one time, I believed that too. Behaving only positively, so the other didn’t feel discomfort, garnered the approval and love I’d been trained to expect. It wasn’t as if the other side disappeared. As it went underground it expressed through self-aggressing which led to depression. Denying half of my experience led to intensely focusing on the negative traits I perceived in my daughter. Determined to do everything I could to “stomp” them out, I trained my daughter to only see one-side as welcome.
What does practicing finding gratitude through equilibration look like?
Example: Seeing a behavior or trait in my daughter, that I claim is negative, instead of pointing it out trying to STOP it from happening, I slowly turn inward meeting the discomfort arising inside.
Looking deeply, I see the behavior or trait that I’m perceiving as negative in my daughter, also lives in me even though it plays out in a different form. As I turn towards this trait I witness a STRONG judgment wrapping around this part of my being claiming it is wrong or bad. Rejecting this part of myself I desperately long to turn away and annihilate this aspect for surely in expressing it love and approval will be withdrawn.
And yet, opening to my curiosity I witness the innocence of my being begging to be released from the overwhelming weight of judgment. Gently, I offer this part kindness entering into a new form of gratitude. Offering love to all of my imperfectly perfect being.
It’s a profound practice, taking personal responsibility, in your parenting, for offering gratitude to all expressions. This doesn’t mean condoning all behaviors and yet you are committing to offering kindness and gratitude to the feelings driving the behavior. For they only want to be seen, heard and understood.
Offer yourself the time to penetrate this.
Let’s practice together.
When your child exhibits a trait that drives you up the wall -such as acting lazy, instead of engaging with your child turn inward and ask yourself: Where do I experience myself as “lazy” even if is it is a different form? and when I find it how do I treat this part of myself?
Hate it? Want to get rid of it? Judging it as wrong or bad? Just notice your self-aggression to a part of yourself.
Courageously, take a step toward this part with curiosity and kindness. Look underneath the label and see the innocence and the wisdom it is trying to express. Remembering this long lost part it will finally be able to return home.
Committing to this practice you just may start feeling grateful for what is.
Hearing the word innocence in adulthood, what comes up?
I imagine a curious, experiencing everything for the first time, innocent from conclusions or the meaning of anything.
Looking through my conditioned adult lens I imagine acting childish and relinquishing responsibility for being a good parent. Negating the innocent seeing that is still available from my true self, I see through the lens of “right” or “wrong”.
My early history, my parenting template, and the hordes of books I read led to judgments and ideas about how, who, where, and when my daughter should be or not be. Instead of innocence I saw manipulative and threatening behavior.
My stories and beliefs masked my beautiful innocence since I was determined not to seem childish. As a child, I’d heard over and over that, I was overly innocent and was encouraged to grow up and see the world for what it was. DANGEROUS! Slowly, protecting and masking my innocence became a survival strategy.
Innocence went underground and acting competent and responsible took the reins. Can you relate?
Have you noticed how challenging it is to read people’s mood or intention while masked up? Do you notice less desire to connect therefore creating more distance from seeing the innocent beautiful smile of another human?
What would it feel like to touch into the innocence you so wisely hid away? Childlike not childish innocence, free of judgment, meaning, or conclusions is free from doing “it” right or wrong. It is fueled by curiosity and wonder.
Seeing my child’s behavior through the eyes of innocence shifted my perspective and therefore my behavior. When I perceived her behavior as threatening or manipulative I believed it was DANGEROUS. And yet this way of perceiving was about my fear of somehow being taken advantage of. Protecting my innocence instead of honoring the gift skewed the true view of my precious child.
Weekly Purejoy practice:
Every time you notice judging of your child’s behavior, coming to a conclusion, or ascribing meaning, take a moment gently placing it over to the side saying, yeah, maybe that’s true. Try putting on different “glasses” seeing through a mature innocence.
Be open to seeing your child is not “doing” something to you. Actually, It’s not about you at all.
Step back in awe. Seeing the innocence of their cry, the innocence their behavior is exhibiting, what their communicating is extremely powerful. Offering this to your child guarantees it is available to you as well.
My parenting practice is focused on seeing every behavior through the eyes of innocence, as if for the very first time.
Try this week – no conclusion, no meaning, just innocently opening your heart and mind to listening and innocently being with yourself and your child.
Listen to podcast Ep. 60 “Seeing Through The Eyes of Innocence”
My desire for this was HUGE, and yet I didn’t have a clue how to create harmony inside so my outside always seemed to be in chaos. As a new mom, I aligned with the view that it was important to attune to my child’s emotional needs so I naively opened to her emotions and internal state. I was sure I was doing the “right” thing.
What I didn’t take into account was the intensity awakened inside when I attuned to the intimacy of the moment. As my daughter entered feelings of powerlessness, because she wanted something and couldn’t get it, I too experienced feeling powerless. I was definitely attuned and yet I’d spent most of my life organizing not to feel powerless and like her, I wanted what I wanted which was for her to behave. As panic and confusion arose I leaned into my early learned strategies of powering over when I felt powerless. When that didn’t work I collapsed and handed the power over to my young daughter. Honestly, I was in the weeds.
As my distress grew I tried fixing, changing, avoiding, or repressing my feelings of powerlessness. When I couldn’t manipulate my internal experience I turned on my daughter and was determined to fix, change or command her to control herself creating a very unstable base for her to experience emotional safety.
Even though I longed to create emotional stability and harmony the first step was to establish it inside instead of trying to control the outside.
Let’s practice together: The first step is to courageously commit to intimately meeting your internal experience. Attuning to your child’s emotional state pause while meeting yours tenderly and kindly. Creating stability through your heart allows the experience of staying connected with the present moment. (Download the SafeSeat process for further support)
Miraculously, you’ll recognize stability is inherent, and taking the time to turn towards the feelings you’ll gloriously ride the waves showing up empowered and alive offering your child the emotional stability you’ve longed to give.
It’s been an interesting week penetrating deeper into my judgments noticing what function my judge-mentality serves. What’s true for me may not be true for you, and yet I invite you to explore discovering your truth.
Judgment happens in a snap, so while exploring take a deep breath slowing down mentally reflecting on what arises. Let’s take the example of scrolling a Facebook feed.
I’m reading a Facebook post. Thinking I don’t have a conscious opinion about the topic immediately I hear the judgy commenter in my head. Do I like this or not? Is it good or bad? Right or wrong? What is this judge-mentality serving, I wonder?
If it’s a parenting post I notice I’m judging the information. The truth is the judgement is covering up my refusal to enter the intimacy with the discomfort I feel and my personal judgements on myself.
The judgy one is looking for the right or wrong position and if I have a different opinion than the post my judgy one is off and running. And of course, I hate having JUDGEMENTS because that means I’m a judgmental person. Oh my!
But I do. I have these judgments. Wanting to get rid of them doesn’t help with my inquiry, which is how I explore truth.
Recognizing my judgment is trying to choose one side or the other I get curious. Knowing in my mind I am right, I am OK. Thinking I am wrong, I can change myself. Ahhhh. Now I’m getting a little deeper.
I notice this judge-mentality covers over a deeper wisdom that I carry inside, especially in relation to parenting.
My judgments are trying to help me ‘do it right’! Do you do this? Of course, I want to do the “right” thing in my parenting because it is so important. And yet I’m looking for the answer from outside sources.
Committed to showing up authentically with my daughter, I work hard not to do the wrong thing. And yet in trusting my judge- mentality, I’m desperate to choose a side. Often the consensus of whatever group I am in wins out – yeah, this is right! And reading the other side suddenly I hear : Now, this is right!
Or maybe it’s wrong?
Pretty interesting and yet dedicating my parenting journey to discovering truth demands I question my old narrative.
The invitation to you is to explore and find out what your deeper truth reveals.
When you hear a judgy thought notice if you are creating a giant story crystalizing your argument that there is a right or wrong way to do something. Especially in your parenting.
Next time you hear a judgy thought, especially about your child’s behavior, see what happens if you stop fueling the story line. Take the judgment inside and be with it. Offer it kindness. Inquire. My question to myself is, “do you need to feel right in this moment? What might happen if you open your curiosity to why she acted that way instead of going to your judgment that you are right and she is wrong?
Opening my heart supports questioning my judgements that are creating a barrier between my heart and my child.
So I welcome my judgments.
As long as I question my beliefs around ‘that’s right’ or ‘that’s wrong’ or ‘it’s good” or “it’s bad’, my judge-mentality serves. It’s a little flag, a messenger, encouraging turning back in opening my curiosity and actually embracing the truth of the moment.
Do you always feel you are going to be late because of your children?
I did. But also, I am a nut about being on time.
My concept of time tends to be very linear. One step leads to the next to the next. When I need to be somewhere I start marking out my steps so I can get to where I am going on time. However it was clear from a very young age, my daughter didn’t live in linear time like I did. She had her own sense of time and space, based more in the present moment. It drove me crazy.
Because she wasn’t basing her actions on the past nor using that template for the future, she would look at me like I was speaking gibberish when I pushed her to hurry because we had to be on time.
I thought by the time she was a teenager I had instilled in her my strongly held belief around the urgency of time. But nope. She seemed not at all worried about this lateness thing I carried. She hadn’t absorbed the memo that time went from A to B to C, and other people were waiting for you and you needed to show up.
The more I talked about time, the more frustrated I got that she wasn’t on my timing.
I can be quite forceful and I imagine you can too. I used my whole arsenal of “power over” moves, followed up by the “consequences” knock out punch to try to force her into ‘my’ time, without much success.
Eventually I stopped judging her and got curious – what was it like to live in the land of “no time”?
I discovered that of the two of us, she was pretty relaxed and I was the one who was super stressed, living under this taskmaster of time. Perhaps you feel this too?
During these current times, where there is not a high demand to go many places, to arrive “on time”, maybe it is possible to shift something here, to try a new experiment.
Tomorrow, or sometime this week, spend the whole day without looking at the clock, without scheduling yourself like ‘now we have to eat’, ‘now we have to brush teeth’, ‘now we have to get to school’. Explore this and see what happens. Do you begin to relax more? And do things still get done? This was my biggest fear, that if I didn’t drive events and keep my daughter ‘on time”, things were just not going to happen.
This may feel true for you and you may believe it’s true, but right now is the greatest opportunity to find out. Notice what happens when you don’t have the external pressure dictating you have to be on time or else.
I love how time keeps coming up, so try it out, see what happens. Let me know. I’m curious to hear how it is for you to step out of linear time entering the moment.
We found our way through 2020 and here we are in 2021!
Thank you for joining me in the deep inquiry toward a new way of parenting. I love sharing my insights and parenting experience. It gives me Purejoy.
I support you to deeply trust your experience and knowledge. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. I’ve read parenting books, spiritual books, therapy books, and I love knowledge. I’m always learning and growing.
However, in my parenting, trusting my experience more than my thinking or my knowledge, dropped me deeply into my heart knowing.
My head told me to do things that triggered resistance in my daughter. Thoughts such as – it was my responsibility to control her, that I knew what was best for her kept crowding out my heart knowing. It felt like we were always divided and at odds.
When I dropped into my heart, I recognized my daughter was not resistant to be resistant or to mess with me.
She wasn’t defiant when I relaxed and trusted the intuitive knowing from my being. She resisted when I expressed my stress, tightening my body, and living out of my mind instead of trusting my heart.
In our current situation, when the things we depended on have fallen away and life’s possibilities feel uncomfortably narrow, you may notice yourself tightening. If so, you’ll be more controlling in your parenting because you can’t really control what’s happening externally.
The other option? Relax, open and show up in the present moment with your child. How? When you notice resistance or defiance, ask yourself, in this moment am I parenting from what I think I’m supposed to do and what all the experts have told me that I need to do? Or am I listening to my heart?
Am I willing to see when my child is defiant and resistant, there’s something in their interior landscape that’s distressing, and it may have to do with me and how I’m choosing to be with them.
When my daughter expresses intense resistance, I PAUSE and check inside asking: where am I parenting from? Nine times out of ten, I’m parenting from my thoughts, from an agenda. I am refusing to be intimate with the moment. I forget to listen to the amazing, intuitive wisdom that tells me first and foremost, to meet my daughter in her heart’s vulnerability.
We were trained to trust concepts, experts, and our minds rather than meeting in the vulnerable intimacy of the heart.
There’s plenty of experts telling you what to do to control your children, to get them to behave. If that’s the path you’re following, great. Nothing wrong with that.
And yet you’re here to hear something more profound and truthful. Your heart is calling you to follow a different path. Your longing to have a more connected experience requires letting go of any barriers between your heart and your child’s.
This week notice when your child is saying no or you perceive them as giving you a hard time. PAUSE and check in with your body. Are you open? Are you available? Are you holding tight to an agenda, or your need for control?
If so, take a breath, offer yourself kindness, and open to the beautiful, loving energy of your heart – for you.
And then, extend that to your beautiful children.
Stories are a big part of our parenting journey.
So many stories, ideas, beliefs, fantasies, nightmares, so much of our parenting journey is made up of stories.
And most of the time, those stories are about the past.
Or they’re about the future. I don’t know about you, but, oh, my gosh, when my child was young and had behaviors that were scary, I projected way out into the future of how she wasn’t functioning or she was living at home forever or worst of all wasn’t working and was dependent on ME!
What was happening in the moment was she wouldn’t take out the trash and this had nothing to do with the future.
It had to do with the present moment and my refusal to be intimate with that moment.
Do you ever do this?
It’s not your fault that you avoid intimacy in the moment. You, along with most of us in the West, were trained from the time we were very, very young to always be planning for the future.
One of the question adults most frequently ask of young children is “What do you want to be when you grow up”? That instead of “Who are you right now?”.
An example: I am recording my podcast and my dog starts barking. Immediately I make up all kinds of stories about your reactions when you hear my dog on the recording. I think: the recording is not professional, I should start over.
I start judging myself. That kind of judgement is all about the story and what it means.
As I step into the intimacy of what IS in the present moment – nothing more than my dog barking – I notice some discomfort which I try to avoid by making up a story.
As I choose to pause in that discomfort, take a breath and go towards the awareness of my body I notice a tightness in my chest a tension in my muscles. I am hyper vigilant. My body is acting as if something dangerous is happening.
As I check out reality I ask: is it dangerous to be intimate with this moment? No. It’s my stories that create the danger about what this means. As I relax into the truth that there is no danger I smile and offer my humanness some room to breathe.
We were trained early not to experience the present moment and our embodiment. We learned to listen to others beliefs about what our actions meant limiting our possibilities in the future.
And the future is often based on the past, on experiences we had as children. We’re very familiar with our stories of how we’re supposed to be, what we’re supposed to do, how parenting is supposed to go, When triggered with our kids, those templates charge forward shaping our thoughts and behavior. Ultimately, it comes down to the fear if we really come down into the present moment we’ll fail in the future. We won’t teach them the right lessons and they won’t be responsible adults.
Refusal to meet ourselves in an intimate way is a strategy to use control or withdrawing love to get a future outcome. It is painful on both sides.
Instead take a moment and imagine meeting discomfort without judgment, without a story or conclusion, without doing what minds are trained to do. Bring your awareness into the discomfort in your body, offer kindness, and find out, is it dangerous to embody and stay present with this moment? It’s challenging because we’re trained to go the other way. And yet, is it actually dangerous?
This week try practicing.
See what it’s like to practice dropping out of the mind, through the intense feelings into your beautiful body. Staying there for a moment with a kiss of kindness.
Do you ever feel like giving up?
Running away, disappearing, just giving it all up in your parenting.
Well, if you do, it’s OK.
It’s important to see this desire as a messenger not a destroyer. If you hear yourself saying, “I can’t do this anymore” take heart. It’s an opportunity to ask yourself what ways am I being that aren’t working any longer? Am I giving too much and refusing to receive? Am I positioning as a victim? Am I using control instead of connection to get my needs met?What strategies are not working in your personal interior world?
If you feel divided inside it will show up outside with your child. So, the question is: Do you want to feel powerful or empowered in your parenting? Do you believe that you have all the answers and know what is best for your child? If so, when they disagree do you feel like giving up?
Take a laser view of the so-called powers you use in your parenting. Are they working or do you feel like you are in a constant battle with your child?
It may be time to listen to the messenger and to “give up” what isn’t working. And of course, this will trigger BIG time fear inside and yet you can be with that. You have the capacity to offer it love instead of giving it the power to run your parenting.
Instead of manipulating, demanding, punishing, shaming or controlling your child what will it take to lay those powers down? It could be time to “give up” on those and take on the superpowers of loving connection, healthy separation, effective selfishness, and adult boundaries. Don’t shoot the messenger…open the door and welcome it to the table of unconditional love.
Deeply listening to our children can be extremely challenging.
While your child is sharing something, are you thinking about what you want to tell them or how they need to be? I am.
Example: My daughter is venting about someone in our neighborhood. She’ll be going on and on about how they’re this, they’re that, how she doesn’t like them. Inside I’m feeling discomfort and a desire to contradict her story bubbles up. So instead of opening to what’s underneath the narrative, which is she FEELS powerless, helpless, and therefore doesn’t feel seen, heard or understood, I try to convince her that they are trying really hard, they had a difficult upbringing and she should be nice to them.
Out of my discomfort, I try to talk her out of what she is saying. I’m not actually listening to her I can only think about me.
The next time your child is telling you something, just notice -Are you already trying to fix it, change it, or talk them out of it?
We’re all trained to do this. Picture when you’re trying to share something with your partner or a friend You’re wanting to hear yourself, and longing to share. They start rationalizing with you or trying to fix or change you or even worse tell you how you feel. What happens? Does it make you crazy? It does me. I’m not asking to be changed. I’m asking to be heard. I want to be seen, heard and understood. PERIOD!
When your child expresses big feelings, notice your internal story and yet stay with the feelings. If you get caught up in the story of the big feeling, you’ll want to talk to the story instead of being with the feelings. It’s easier to fix or change the story because we don’t know how to truly be present when BIG feelings arise.
Check it out. When you feel powerless, helpless or rejected by your child, notice your narrative. Is it that you are a victim? Instead of getting caught on the narrative, stay with the feelings and say to yourself “Well, of course, this is difficult for you, you really wanted your child to listen to you.”
Do the same with your child such as: ” well, of course, you don’t like that person. Of course, it’s difficult because you don’t feel seen by her. You don’t feel heard. I see you.”
When listening and talking to the feeling, it doesn’t mean you are believing or not believing the story, agreeing with or not agreeing with it. You are making space to listen.
This week, when your child has a hard day and they’re complaining, instead of trying to convince them to be different or talk them out of it, try saying” Tell me more”.
Open up to seeing, hearing, and understanding the feelings, not the story. Go slowly, because we always want to grab onto the story, and if we see it as a problem, we think we can fix it. In time, you’ll be able to stay present and truly listen.
Feelings don’t need to be fixed. They want to be heard.