The Purejoy Parenting Blog
Inspiration For Your Parenting Journey
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.
I bought the little girl in me a Mother’s day present.
She loves it!
It’s a hot cocoa mug with orcas and rainbows all over it!
It feels important to me now to recognize that she held the dream for this life I am now living in her HEART, right along with some other dreams full of rainbows and orcas.
When I was her- I dreamed of being a mom, both my sleeping dreams and daytime ones.
In those dreams it was beautiful and wonderful- cooing babes with fun names, cute clothes that didn’t match, fun adventures in nature and on the open road, milestones and memories.
Awe and wonder in my HEART!
In reality now- it’s oftentimes messy, and emotional, and stressful- laundry, dishes, marriage, work.
Mystery and intensity in my HEART!
But her HEART then said only- I want what I want.
I want to be a mom.
Over and over again, actually, as my body grew around her with complexity.
But her wanting and dreaming saw me to another day of wanting to be a mom, and then another, and all the way to this day- to the fullness of motherhood.
A journey of epic (which is funny because that word annoys me, ask my kids, but tis true) measure.
My body had 6 kids in 9 years- one died, two came at once.
She carries in her form the memories and the scars, and wears out of all the trying and striving to keep up with a busy world when I ignore her sensations and just keep going, avoiding the inevitable collapse she needs.
My mind can’t make sense of it, she tries to justify and tell the story and rationalize something so soulful it simply can’t be done.
My HEART says… yessssss, it’s exactly what I wanted.
The awe and wonder right along with the mystery and intensity.
My HEART knows.
These ones, through my body connected to me at the HEART.
My mind can’t remember all the details every day- I forget the time, I go to the store without a list, I try to imagine what tomorrow will be like, I try to strategize to get safe, make it prettier according to the world out there.
My HEART says- you are a mama now, this is what you wanted- you’ve got this, what does THIS moment ask of you? Right now, right here. Right here, this moment, with these ones, you are more than enough – in THIS moment.
My soul knows beyond all the daily that the little girl of me wanted to be a mom- that it would show her the way home to herself.
Not my skills (although- I’ve got some fun ones)
Not my brain
Not my strategies
Not my appearance
Not my achievements
My kids came for my HEART, the very HEART that wanted exactly what she’s getting now and it’s taking us all home.
Jess Henderson- Mama Bear and the Milky Way
In your family, were you taught that “wants” were demanding? Was it safer to appear self-reliant and independent?
If so, you grew up trying to quell your wants and learned to take care of others while repressing your own.
Self-reliance and independence are highly valued in our culture. I received a lot of strokes in my family for taking care of myself. It wasn’t as if my wants disappeared. They went underground, as the strategy I was trained to value, of always taking care of others, came to the foreground.
Adopting my infant daughter, I perceived her as extremely needy. At first, it felt good to meet those needs since caretaking is much easier than feeling my needs. She was the needy helpless one and I was determined to give her everything I hadn’t gotten. But when, as a toddler, she whined and hung on my leg, deep irritation arose, even disgust. She was the location of “neediness” and she always wanted MORE. “Enough already!” I seethed inside.
To manage my feelings of disgust, I trained her to be self-reliant and independent. If I made her needs more important than mine, I resented her demands and pushed her away. These feelings scared me as I never wanted to feel this way in relation to my daughter so it made sense to teach her to be like me.
She learned from the best and yet the tables turned and suddenly I felt like the needy one demanding love. This is when I recognized -Oh! This really has to do with me! So, turning back in, taking the location of this trait out of the external and feeling my inner neediness in its deepest innocence and vulnerability became my practice.
Seeing the price of my self-reliance was feeling disgusted with my own neediness brought tears to my eyes. I’d projected the helpless needy one on my daughter judging her as entitled and demanding. Bringing that energy inside, seeing that was my fear, I saw how deeply I judged myself for being entitled and demanding when actually I just had normal needs.
It’s still sometimes hard to express my BIG wants. It’s easier to convince myself to take care of others. And yet knowing that my wants are worthy, and as important as everyone else’s in my family I’m able to support everyone in expressing their biggest desires knowing there is ENOUGH for all.
For the last few weeks, I’ve talked about the importance of emotional intelligence and maturity.
Recognizing my emotionally young reactions to my daughter, I committed to finding a way to “grow” myself up emotionally. My emotional vulnerabilities awakened, especially when my daughter attempted to set emotional boundaries of her own. Internalizing that as a personal rejection, I acted like a rejected person. It was especially shocking hearing my mother’s words, the very words I was never going to say, spilling out of my mouth.
However, 20 years ago, beginning my quest, there wasn’t a lot of information to support developing emotionally mature skills. Going into my internal experience offered insight and understanding. Out of that inner journeying came the SafeSeat practice, fondly called my SacredSeat since it represented a place where I accessed a higher unconditional intelligence. I imagined a greater part of myself seeing, hearing, and understanding the emotional story activated in my parenting. This sacred container of loving-kindness for my emotions held me when my conditioned self felt guilt and shame.
Taking a moment to reflect on your upbringing ask: How was I met by my parents when feeling powerless or angry, perhaps acting out by hitting my brother or sister? Or when big feelings came up around being rejected at school was I seen, heard, and understand the way I needed? When coming home with hurt feelings, it likely triggered something correspondingly vulnerable in your parent who tried to fix it, change it or talk you out of it.
It’s an emotional skill to be present with your child as they experience their emotional waves without trying to rescue them. The waves are the content of what is happening within the context of discovering who they are in their life, the ocean. The way emotional waves work is they first arise as sensation and feeling, then as a story, and then finally behavior. Likely, you weren’t taught the art of riding your emotional waves so it is challenging to ride your child’s. Most of us were taught to control them, especially when they manifested in “acting out” behavior. In parenting, we generally concentrate our energy on the “acting out” part.
In Purejoy we focus on seeing, hearing, and understanding what happens before the behavior – those sensations, feelings and stories that come from a perceived reality often triggered by our primal brain, our amygdala, which is trained to identify and protect us from threat.
The SafeSeat is a sacred space to check out if your perceptions are really true. Are you actually in danger if our children don’t listen to you or won’t do what you asked of them? It may feel this way and yet is it actually true?
Then we listen in our Safe Seat, hearing the story – not agreeing or talking ourselves out of it, yet seeing, hearing and understanding the feeling part that gets activated in parenting. Creating a base foundation to tolerate intense emotions without acting them out supports emotional maturity.
Over time, practicing wrapping your feelings in loving kindness, YOU become the act of kindness. When your emotionally young children get activated, you’ll attune to them without activating your own big waves of feeling and story. You become the sacred space for them to grow their emotional maturity.
Last week we explored emotional intelligence, how it leads to emotional maturity, and its importance in parenting.
This week let’s deepen in our exploration together…
Parenting is a skill-based job on the practical level. We actually have to change the diapers, feed the food, drive them here or there, and we also show our children certain skill sets that will help them along.
For example, to be a licensed driver it is not enough to just think about driving on the road or just watch other folks doing it. Actually, getting behind the wheel and practicing is a skill set. Learning the rules of the road, the mechanics of driving the car, and actually getting out on the road are required.
And yet, on an emotional level, if we use the same analogy, we can ask- what about our emotional car?
It makes sense that we need emotional skills also and yet where do we learn these?
As children, we learn the skill set of our family.
If your family’s emotional driving was constantly careening out of control, then don’t expect yourself to miraculously have an emotionally mature skill set.
Most parents taught us the emotional skill set of blaming and controlling the external -the other cars on the road, so to speak- rather than working with the emotional intensity internally.
Children live primarily in their emotional brain rather than their rational minds. Understanding that the external is not the cause of their distress requires maturity. Frequently a child will get overwhelmed by their emotional activations and naturally offload those uncomfortable feelings into the external world- siblings, pets, parents, even inanimate objects.
I remember when my daughter was little – she would run into the table and then blame the table for hurting her- “BAD table!!” It was too intense to realize that those feelings and sensations were all happening inside her being.
Emotional regulation is a mature capacity that young children grow into. If you were not supported to grow up emotionally- realizing that your feelings lived inside you, that the sensations in your body were information, you likely organized to focus on the external. Now in parenting, when your child has big feelings that drive them to “act out”, it triggers your internal young emotional experience.
As an external force you may feel like they are manipulating or disrespecting you, then what do you do?
If you’ve not had the chance to grow up into emotional maturity, and you want to blame the external, you’ll likely move to control your child!
When that happens both you and your child end up in a pretty young emotional spot.
Purejoy supports discovering how to emotionally regulate, making ourselves a safe emotional space for our children. We practice our own emotional driving skills, rather than focusing on the child changing their behavior so that we can feel ok inside.
The first step towards emotional maturity is to recognize that when your child experiences a big emotional wave, you will naturally attune to that wave.
Working this vibrational attunement in the SafeSeat, noticing your experience, and offering loving-kindness to yourself supports emotional growth and safety.
Continuing to practice new emotional regulation skills, supports you and your family in learning how to drive the emotional car. You support yourself, not blaming your children for your feelings, or getting them to take care of you. And voila! You stay in your own lane teaching your child to do the same.