The Purejoy Parenting Blog
Inspiration For Your Parenting Journey
Do you ever hear yourself saying to your kids, “You need to…..” Maybe, it’s cleaning their room, or eating their vegetables….homework anyone?
Of course, you need your child to do what they are supposed to do, right?
And yet, when you refuse to take responsibility for it being your need, not your child’s you are giving them a mixed message. Inside, they are thinking “I don’t need to clean my room. It’s fine with me”.
The discomfort is yours not theirs and honestly, they aren’t causing your emotional discomfort by not cleaning their room. Your NEED is causing your discomfort and expecting your child to meet it with open loving arms.
In my experience that never happened.
The BIG question I learned to ask myself is “why do I need her to do something?”
Nine times out of ten there was a strong emotional component that ended up with me feeling rejected and abandoned if my daughter didn’t do what I needed her to do. I noticed I didn’t feel important or loved. ARG!
Now, this was a HUGE insight and not a pleasant one. I was attaching my daughter meeting my emotional need through “taking the recycling out” as an indicator of whether I was important.
That had to stop!
Once I separated out the emotional need I was attaching to the practical chores things deeply shifted inside. Instead of looking for evidence that “I didn’t matter” I stepped up to the plate to support my daughter in doing practical tasks that weren’t exactly her high value.
Complaining while still doing the practical task wasn’t a statement about ME. It was about her.
Slowly, as she developed more capacities we shared the household task, and if she struggled I supported her instead of shaming her!
Take time this week to ask yourself, “Are my emotions mixed up with practical tasks?”
If so, take to your SafeSeat offering yourself the emotional holding you need, and then come alongside your child as they grow into their greater capacities of enjoying the practical tasks.
Do you believe you know what is best for your child?
I know, I sure did.
The parenting paradigm most of us were exposed to carries this view. The limitation of this view is that we find ourselves projecting onto our children the experiences we had which parallel theirs.
If you were not included in a circle of friends and your child comes home and tells you about an experience they had that is similar it can trigger yours. Even though it may feel noble to protect them from the experience- remember, your child is having a different experience than you.
They have YOU by their side supporting them in knowing they are capable of riding the waves of feelings that surround certain difficult situations.
Of course, memories will arise for you, and yet turning inward, doing your work to offer yourself kindness, creates a healthy separation from your child’s experience. This gives you the capacity to honor the nature of life as it happens to show up with loving-kindness for your child.
Why would you want to take an experience away from your child knowing how all the amazing experiences, positive and negative, informed who you are today?
One of the main reasons I created Purejoy was to support folks not feeling so alone in their experience….not to protect them or fix them.
As a child, I felt so alone navigating my parent’s divorce and all I wished for was someone who could see me believe in me, and remind me that I had what it took inside to make it through the difficult transition I was going through. At the young age of 12, I took everything personally and somehow thought it was my fault, and if only I could change then maybe they would get back together.
Over the years I’ve practiced offering kindness to this “younger” part of myself. How it played out in my parenting was I took everything personally when my daughter struggled.
I thought it was my fault.
I struggled in supporting my daughter having her experience without taking responsibility for her pain. I continually engulfed her into my experience until I created the SafeSeat to turn inward meeting that “young” one inside me releasing her from the responsibility for others pain.
Slowly, building my adult capacity I took responsibility for my emotional well-being.
It took practice and a deep turning towards a greater truth that it was not all about me.
As a terrified 12 year old I came to the this conclusion thinking that if it was about me then maybe I could be more perfect insuring that my parents would stay together.
Updating this innocent conclusion gave me the capacity to healthily “grow” myself up, releasing my self-absorption I turned toward my daughter supporting her unique journey.
In conscious parenting, the message we often hear is “connect, connect, connect”. And yet, rarely do we hear about the importance of “healthy separation” in our relationships with our children.
Believing that “separation” is unhealthy leads to the engulfment of the child out of our need to ALWAYS connect. I took the messages to “heart” that my job was to ALWAYS seek connection with my daughter. At the beginning of our relationship, this felt great and yet over time, this turned into me projecting all my needs onto her and then attending to them. She was the location of the needy one and it felt both familiar and right to take care of her needs on-demand while rejecting mine. This was great for the first year or so since her needs were also prominent, and yet slowly this led to her expressing an intense rage which definitely created a necessary separation.
Unfortunately, I didn’t hear the true message which was “back off” mama, give me some space so I can know myself. What I heard was “I don’t love you” which triggered my feelings of rejection and abandonment. I’d organized my life to never feel these early vulnerable feelings so honestly, I was in the weeds and thought there was something inherently “wrong” with my daughter or me.
The deeper I tried to connect the more she pushed me away which I took VERY personally. I needed her to let me take over her being so I could feel mine. It was incredibly painful and led to my creation of the SafeSeat.
I turned toward the needy one in me who was desperately calling for support. As I separated out from needing my daughter to need me slowly we both found our ground coming back together in a healthy way including healthy separation and connection.
One of the signs this might be happening in your home is if your child behaves in a highly aggressive or angry way pushing you away when you offer what you perceive as loving help. If so, ask yourself: Am I positioning myself as the one who tells my child “what to do? When to do? How to do?” their life? Truthfully, look inside and if the answer is “yes” ask yourself how would that be for you?
Are you willing to move back into your lane making sure you are driving your car while coming alongside your beautiful child? Give it a shot and see what happens.
How you see your children is through your perspective which is conditioned through your history. Opening to your perspective being an internal experience vs the truth you’ll learn to track and embrace your internal world separating it out from your external reality.
In Purejoy, we focus on tracking your internal experience offering understanding and kindness when needed instead of expecting your child to know what is going on inside you and therefore take care of your discomfort by changing their behavior.
Releasing your child from being the cause of your internal discomfort you SafeSeat tracking your internal world choosing to “grow” yourself up before responding to your child.
Noticing when you are emotionally triggered you choose to turn inward shifting your perspective from seeing your child’s behavior as the cause of your discomfort to inquiring into the nature of what is arising. Your children are not “out to get you” which you perceive when feeling emotionally triggered. Your children are not privy to your internal world and therefore aren’t able to give you what you long for: caring and understanding.
As a child, experiencing feelings of powerless and rejection were part of your experience and yet your children don’t cause those feelings. They trigger them just being their emotionally young immature selves.
Wanting them to give you what you didn’t receive from your parents is not going to happen. Just like you, your children are limited and unless you meet yourself, offering the loving kindness you are seeking from them you choose to control and force them to do what they aren’t able to do.
Looking to your 3 year old expecting them to create a safe emotional environment is an expectation that won’t be met. And yet, turning inward, listening, and understanding the love you are craving gives you a chance to meet your vulnerable self with tenderness and love. If you choose not to, you’ll blame your children for the pain which you’ve had long before they arrived.
Sitting in your SafeSeat meeting your tender young emotional self gives you the opportunity to “grow” yourself up while showing up for your child.
Do you experience happiness emanating from inside and spreading out or coming from the outside and spreading in? Most of us were trained to attach happiness to an external event.
Think about your happy 2-year-old who emanates that happiness through the joy of their being.
Following that joy, they experience the outside with wonder and delight. When the focus is placed on the item they experience versus the joy inside they believe it is the item bringing the joy. Innocently, they believe “things” or “accomplishments” bring joy.
Instead of connecting the dots expressing our internal joy, we learn to attach our happiness to the external item or experience.
This week let’s practice turning inward to see what lights you up inside. As a child, what did you dream about? What was your favorite game? What could you spend all your time on? Where did your happiness express itself?
When you expressed your happiness in a way that didn’t elicit happiness in your caregivers what happened? Did you subordinate your desire to meet your caregivers? Did you learn to provide happiness to them with what you did or said? If so, you may have lost the trail of your happiness and how it might express.
Take time to truly answer the questions with a gentle loving eye. Keep following the trail to how you expressed your happiness as a child and how it was received.
Ask yourself: Am I afraid to express my happiness from the inside out knowing it might trigger someone else? Do I keep looking outside to see what will make my children happy instead of expressing mine?
Hmmmmm! Have fun inquiring and learning more about yourself.
Have you noticed how transitions can be both exciting and scary?
Settling into a rhythm, a pattern, or a way of being feels safe and secure, and yet in the river of life, there is always a flow.
Children are constantly shifting and changing as they grow and develop. And yet, it is easy as parents to crystallize our view coming to a conclusion about who our children are or are not.
Claiming we welcome change on the outside, inside contradictory feelings can arise confusing us and our children. Lots of feelings are stirred as our children reach certain milestones. Taking the time to feel the feels makes the transitions easier for all.
Even the transitions you look forward to can surprise you with the intensity of feelings that arise. My daughter deciding to go to Japan for a gap year after high school was a HUGE transition for both of us. She was ready, I was ready and as she was preparing waves of excitement and fear roared through our home.
Making space for all the feelings without coming to conclusions gave us a safe passage to the other side.
Take a few moments to reflect on the transitions you are moving through. Bringing awareness to your internal experience do you notice any resistance in the mix?
If so, open your heart wrapping the resistance in love giving yourself permission to feel exactly what you feel in the moment. Once you do, turn your heart towards the inevitable movement going forward welcoming all the feels along the way.
Ever feel misunderstood and judged by the way you parent? Do others think you are permissive and question your style?
If others are not interested in hearing how you parent and, out of their discomfort, keep telling you how “wrong” you are for messing up your child, do you listen?
I found my family and the culture I lived in wasn’t very interested in hearing, they were more interested in me conforming to their idea of “good” parenting.
At first, I tried really hard to be heard trying to convince them that the way I was parenting was good for my child. I spent a lot of energy fighting for what I believed and they spent as much time fighting for what they believed.
Getting clear that I could choose where to spend my time and energy, which was in creating a new culture in my home, I laid down my sword of righteousness and followed my heart. Clearly, how I parent was my business and what folks thought about it was about them. I chose to wake up every morning feeling good inside about the choices I was making.
In my home, I created what I call a parenting pod where I took responsibility for being the emotionally mature adult. I worked with my emotional triggers, through my SafeSeat practice, instead of acting out on my daughter. Realizing I I wasn’t going against my family or culture empowered me to create a new family and culture.
One of the high values of the traditional family/culture I grew up in was “good behavior is the gold standard”. This value was achieved through shaming, guilting, consequencing, and punishing the child to shift their behavior.
I personally tried my hardest as a child to give the adults what they wanted by being a “good” girl. And yet, internally I felt really “bad” whenever I couldn’t meet those expectations. This led me to question how I was subordinating my high value in my parenting to my family and culture. My high value was to create an environment that supported emotional wellbeing for myself and my child. It was time to courageously live into those values in my home.
Living into my highest value in my family/culture meant receiving a lot of judgment and negative feedback. To do this, I surrounded myself with others who were making the same choice I was. I created parenting CARE groups to bring parents together who were interested in exploring a new way of being. One that connected with the HEART in a deeper way. Together we don’t have to change the world, we have the power to create a new one!
In my parenting, the number 1 challenge I experience is holding onto unrealistic expectations. Right? Do you remember before you had your first child? What were your fantasies? Your expectations on yourself?
Since doing so much personal work and waiting until I was 44 to be a mom, the expectation that I was READY for this thing called ‘parenting’ was pervasive. Sure, I longed to rock it and my expectation that I was going to always be loving, caring, and available to my daughter ran the show. What was I thinking?
Clearly, I wasn’t. I created a fantasy that bound both me and my daughter in the worse possible way. Setting myself up to feel disappointment over and over allowed the truth, that I didn’t have “control” over myself or my daughter, to reveal itself. Uggg!
Outrage flooded my being when she didn’t listen to me, do what I asked, and talked back. That was not part of my fantasy and honestly, I didn’t have a contingency plan so fell back on my early parenting template which was to take charge and scare her into compliance. Not how I fantasized it would go.
Faced with the pain of failing I looked deeper to find the core of my suffering. Guess what? My unrealistic expectations, first, on myself and then on my daughter was the cause. Being the perfect mom meant she had to be the perfect daughter. We both struggled to just be ourselves. Nice and mean, happy and sad, generous and stingy, and all the traits we carried.
The truth is I only made room for one side of the picture and in doing so my daughter played out the other side to create a whole. Instead of trying to get rid of the parts in her, I didn’t like, I turned inside to see where they lived inside me. I’d hidden them away hoping they would never reveal themselves and yet parenting was the hidden switch that opened the forbidden doors to the lost parts in me.
Slowly, dropping my one-sided expectations I opened to seeing the benefits of what I called the negative. Instead of trying to control my daughter to make sure she only expressed the positive I welcomed the negative. As an adult, it wasn’t as scary as I thought. Now, this doesn’t mean I look forward to the difficult emotions that arise, and yet I’ve learned when they do they are only seeking love which only I can provide.
Of course, I still have fantasies and yet now when experiencing feeling disappointment instead of seeing myself as a disappointment I recognize I’ve set myself up to only see one side. Welcoming the other side my expectations lower as I enter the moment touching the intimacy and beauty of not knowing what the future holds. It is a breath of fresh air.
Practicing over time thinking less and listening more is my key to Purejoy. Ahhhhh!
When you walk into your child’s room, what is the first thing you see? The mess? Most parents do. As humans, we have a negativity bias which is our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on it. It’s easy to STAY with this perception and to only see one side in relation to certain behaviors.
This week we are working with practicing focusing on the “other” side. Remember, the negative is there so you are not working to ignore it, just giving equal time to the positive. The way to change the brain’s negativity bias requires training your brain towards the other side. You work to actively attune to the positive you see at the same time as the negative. Shifting your focus from the negative (remember it is still there) to the positive equilibrates the brain, seeing the truth in the moment. Science claims that for the other side to get into your long-term memory you need to hold it in your field of attention for at least 10-20 seconds.
This week, seeing your child on their computer notice your negative perceptions and then consciously turn your focus towards finding a positive of their being on the computer. Hold this in your focus for 10-20 seconds.
My child is smiling and full of energy as he plays games on his computer…hold it…hold it….hold it….. Phew, you can do this. Remember, you don’t have to let go of the negative side….You KNOW that one well and it comes a lot easier than focusing on the positive especially with computer use.
Seeing what your child is actually doing instead of focusing and believing they are ONLY doing the negative sends a message to your child that they are a whole human being experiencing positive and negative. If you focus only on the negative your child is hearing over and over they have a deficit which becomes their internal self-talk. The more balanced you see a situation the less emotionally charged you’ll be when supporting your child in learning skill sets that will support their growth.
Next time you walk into their room, of course, you’ll see the mess, and yet shift your focus to the beauty that is hidden in the middle of the mess. Keep your attention there….hold it…hold it…hold it…You got it.
As a parent, it is easy, to think what you believe is “right” casting your child as in the “wrong”. When this happens righteousness pops up defending and justifying your actions of pushing, pulling, or forcing your child to live into your high values.
I’m here to offer you another way of seeing. What if thinking you are right is just your first STOP on the elevator down to connecting with reality?
When I experienced the thought “I’m right” I saw my child as “wrong”. I got demanding, pushy, forceful and all kinds of intense because honestly, I HATED feeling discomfort. And yet, as the adult in the relationship, I trained myself to never STOP when I experienced discomfort….I chose to step back and question my stance of “right” over “wrong”.
I love this Rumi poem: “Out beyond ideas of right or wrongdoing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.” I consciously choose to parent with this poem in mind.
Of course, this is challenging and that’s what it is meant to be. A challenge to your idea is that you are “right” and your child is “wrong”.
Experiencing feeling right requires tightening which leads to defending and justifying your side. The tighter you get the farther the divide between your heart and your child’s.
Let’s take hitting. This is one of the number one concerns parents of young children bring to the table. My daughter was a hitter so I totally KNOW how uncomfortable it can feel and how “wrong” it appears.
Folks would always say to me “tell her she can’t hit” and I would look at them and say “what do you mean tell her she can’t, she just did.” Instead of controlling the behavior and objecting to the hitting, I went deeper to see what feelings were driving the behavior. This required stepping out of the stance that hitting is wrong.
As I dug beneath the first STOP I recognized that my daughter didn’t just “hit”. She hit when she perceived DANGER. Now, if my daughter had actually been in physical danger you bet I’d want her to be able to hit. So, telling her not to made no sense at a deeper level.
One step deeper I recognized that she perceived my actions as the threat. Whatever actions I felt were “right” she perceived as a threat to her autonomy or view of the matter. Her brain was signaling danger and her actions were an act of protection, not aggression.
What? Once I stepped out of needing to be right I took personal responsibility and questioned my actions instead of hers.
Am I pushing? Do I have an agenda? Am I trying to engulf her with my values instead of listening to hers? This is a huge step to take in a culture where the prevailing belief is hitting is wrong.
It requires seeing how conditioned the lens of right or wrong are and how easy it is to STOP there believing your child is a threat to your belief.
In western culture, comforting a child who feels threatened, after they hit, can be seen as permissive and letting the child get away with something. Instead, we scold, shame, and punish them.
How we got there when we long to support our children in feeling safe still boggles my mind.
From my seat, I decided it was time to unlearn my conditioned belief -meeting my child in that field beyond right and wrong showing her the way of the heart.