The Purejoy Parenting Blog
Inspiration For Your Parenting Journey
As a parent, are you ever confused by the advice of the ‘experts’?
I know I sure was! Even though I was so clear that focusing on my own internal experience was the path for me, I still had this secret hope that somehow my child’s behavior would change. Ha!
On a deep intuitive level, I knew that going inside was for my well-being, and not to get my child to behave, and in hindsight, I can see how that realization took time to develop.
Honestly looking at my motivation was eye-opening. It wasn’t so much about my daughter, what I found out was that that I didn’t want to be my mom.
As a practice, turning inside towards myself, instead of acting out, gave me a chance to experience the discomfort in my body, opening my heart to hear my stories and feelings. From this internal experience, I asked myself, as my internal wisdom being the expert: “what is my motive in my parenting? What do I actually want to happen? What is my goal in consciously parenting?
Seeing any behavior in my daughter that reminded me, even a little bit, of my family origin, I immediately labeled it bad and wrong and tried to do the exact opposite. Since I felt abandoned, rejected, and unsupported by my mother I went to great lengths to avoid my daughter having the same external experience I remembered.
Parenting in opposition to something isn’t really parenting from the center of your being. I call this work Purejoy to pinpoint that centered place inside where I find truth, and my truth told me: taking responsibility for my personal boundaries is the cornerstone to support myself and my daughter.
For example, one piece of parenting advice that I deeply questioned from the center of my being, was that children need limits and boundaries. The way I interpreted this was that I was supposed to limit and bind my child’s behavior which I didn’t want to do since I remembered how uncomfortable it was when this was done to me. So, I swung clear to the other side of the pendulum and took on the job to become a bottomless provider of anything she wanted.
Truth is, neither one worked because they both focused on controlling HER.
Moving deeper toward my center I experienced the clarity that owning my limits and boundaries was the key! Of course, my child experienced my limits and boundaries when I owned them as my personal responsibility, and yet there was no need to turn outward limiting or binding her.
Does this sound surprising? My experience has shown that my child naturally experiences limits and boundaries when I set my healthy personal boundaries so there is no need to set a limit on her.
Here’s the hard part though: most often when setting a healthy personal boundary I feel selfish, abandoning, and unsupportive of my daughter. All the things I tried to avoid feeling in myself and in my parenting! In my discomfort, it’s easy to flip back into wanting to bind and limit her so I can feel at ease again.
My early programming with my mother trained me to look outside for the cause of my discomfort and my happiness. When I recognize that my daughter only triggers the feelings that live inside me, that supports me in releasing her from causing them.
Getting to this understanding is both empowering and challenging, as my early conditioning can easily bleed through the truth of who I want to be.
Setting aside the polarities of being opposite of my mother or dependent on my daughter, I enter into the sacred place inside that is and always has been open to Purejoy.
Not taking my daughter’s behavior personally challenges me to keep turning inside instead of reacting out.
Furiously yelling “You are such a mean Mom – I hate you!” sure felt personal and every bone in my body registered a perceived threat, so of course I wanted to attack. Taking a deep breath and pausing, allowing my primal brain to calm down, I realized it actually wasn’t about me. Expressing what was going on in her internal experience came out as an attack and yet not seeing it as a personal attack I took responsibility for my part in the dynamic allowing me to show up for her.
Picture yourself tired, hungry or worried, sharing your angst with a spouse or a friend and they start trying to fix or change you with their agenda. How do you behave? Do your words come out kindly. Perhaps you even say things you actually don’t mean trying to get them to back-off. You’ve descended into what Dan Siegel calls the downstairs brain, or the amygdala, as opposed to acting from the more rational “upstairs” brain. Expressing from the primal brain is signally a threatened state. Your words are the weapons used to take out the perceived threat.
So my daughter’s internal experience was one of feeling threatened. By me! Pushing, pulling or forcing my agenda were a perceived threat to her emotional safety. Descending down the stairs using her words to “attack” she sought to STOP me from threatening her. Attuning to her emotional state activated my amygdala (primal brain) and quickly I descended down my staircase as well. Two threatened brains make for a HOT situation where both parties, in survival mode, are determined to take out the other.
Perhaps this happens in your life? Taking your child’s words personally you think: He’s disrespecting me and the battle is on.
Taking responsibility for seeing ourselves as an emotional threat to our kids, if we take their words personally, is humbling. And yet, empowering ourselves to show up as the adult is an incredible high. Pausing, slowing down and asking: how am I entering her room? Am I entering with an agenda? Pushing, pulling or forcing? How can I enter his world safely? This is a respectful way to engage.
Backing off and not believing what my daughter is saying is personal gives me a chance to hear her expression taking responsibility in how I engaged in the first place.
What is about ME is I clearly have a part in the dynamic and instead of trying to get her to respect me I ask “where am I not acting respectfully?” What a difference a shift in perspective has made.
Lately, I’m aware of my attachment to things going my way, especially with my child. Expecting my daughter to live into my high values leads to a feeling of disappointment when she doesn’t. I know this feeling intimately and as it arises I notice the deeper disappointment lives inside since I SHOULD be over this by now. HA!
Clearly, when facing reality I recognize parenting is often challenging and messy and yet there is still this little niggly fantasy that at some point I’ll transcend the pain and glide through life feeling peaceful and loving. My attachment to pleasure over pain gets me and I find myself circling back around to controlling my daughter.
Do you have these fantasies? If you have a SafeSeat practice, practice sitting back in your SafeSeat, asking where are you attached to one-sidedness, to the pleasure side of things over the painful ones. And do you notice, as I do, that it is actually in the challenging moments, especially in parenting, that you have grown the most?
Meeting challenge is an opportunity to either act out and keep that pattern going or to look inside and ask, what am I believing about myself at this moment that’s causing my suffering?
Fortunately, I get to practice a lot.
Noticing when I project my expectations onto my daughter gives me the opportunity to meet myself in an empowered way. Turning into the center of the disappointment, instead of trying to get her to change, I find the opportunity to ask – where am I trying to control? Where am I attached to the way I think it’s supposed to go? Every time I impose my views and ideas on to life, I experience a fleeting pleasure, things are good for a little bit, and yet a deeper pleasure awakens in turning back inside, getting to know myself on the deepest level.
I invite you to take time this week, slow everything down. Be with your beautiful self with all your attachments, all your glory, and also spend a little time asking yourself: what story am I believing about myself that may be causing my suffering? It’s always an inside job.
What I know now is that is not the greatest gift I have to offer. The greatest gift is seeing her, freshly, over and over again in a new light.
When I first met my daughter through adoption, It was like I had a pair of glasses that were clean and innocent. I was deeply aware, looking through the eyes of fresh love, the profound gift we both received just being in each other’s presence.
Over time the glasses got a little foggier and I fell back on my habitual pattern of seeing through judgment and labels. I found myself categorizing, saying things like, oh, my daughter never wears skirts. And then, sure enough, the next day, she would have a skirt on. Once labeling her though, it stuck in my mind.
Conditioning through our upbringing and culture is a given. Unconsciously we take the deep divisions and dislikes we feel inside and about ourselves projecting them outwards, especially onto our children.
Projecting my stuff onto my daughter, she becomes the location of the disliked parts in me. When I perceive something is “wrong” with her I believe I am helping her if I can work to change her behavior. The truth though is I’ve been conditioned to believe I am “wrong” when I perceive that behavior inside myself. I’ve seen myself through the foggy glasses and therefore take out my pain on my daughter.
I’ve learned if I see something outside that causes discomfort, turning inward I’m able to witness the trait in me seeing it in the deepest innocence and kindness.
Longing to be seen is a desire we all recognize. To be seen in our beauty, rather than our disabilities, our neurosis or our difficulties, or whatever lens we are being seen through is an experience to behold.
I’m going to give you a little practice this week.
Take one of your children (or your partner), whoever irritates you a bit to practice with. Someone whose character or the traits they exhibit trigger judgment in you. Try taking off the habitual glasses seeing them in their core vulnerability, their core innocence, underneath any labels. Remember, they are a reflection of you.
Just this week, see if you’re willing to continue to see yourself innocently first, and then your child. Look at them when they are sleeping sweetly in their bed. Sometimes it is easier to see the innocence and beauty of being at that time. Do that tonight, and then when they wake up, continue seeing them through the eyes of innocence as if you are meeting them for the first time, just as you did at birth.
I’ll never forget the moment, seeing my daughter for the first time. It was such a deep moment of awe and wonderment realizing with my whole being that I had the privilege to walk with this beautiful soul for the rest of my life.
Do these words sound familiar? “I can’t let my kid….”
As in “I can’t let my kid stay on the computer for hours”, “do her homework while listening to podcasts” “eat only pasta seven days a week”.
Going to that place, which we all do, of looking at the reality of what is and then making a judgment about it happens in an instant. But those moments I think “I can’t let my daughter stay on the computer all day”, she IS on the computer. That is the reality.
Recognizing the minute I enter her space with the energy of the ‘I can’t let you’ thoughts, I take a ‘power over’ position, thinking I know what is best for her. Maybe I do and maybe I don’t but that is not what matters. What matters is the energy I bring into the situation.
Noticing what she is actually doing I meet my discomfort with curiosity, love, and understanding. As my focus shifts away from judgment I take ownership and responsibility for my internal experience being about me and not caused by her behavior. Most times I experience a need to connect and I’m terrified she doesn’t.
I choose to open putting judgment aside, taking in the reality of the joy, delight, and enthusiasm she exhibits for what she is doing. Meeting WHAT IS instead of claiming my story is true, I show up curious and filled with delight.
Removing the judgment that it is OK or not OK to do any of the things I’m judging as negative I step into the present moment reality curious about her instead of focusing on my discomfort.
Ask yourself: how do you feel when someone meets you with judgment. Cooperative? Loved? Seen? Heard? Someone comes to me with that energy, I resist and push back. So does my daughter.
This week when perceiving your child is not doing the things you think are best for them, as that voice of judgment arises, are you willing to try something different?
Try meeting your child where they are with what they are doing, and get curious – How is that for you? You really like to do that a lot. Tell me about that. I’m so interested in what you are experiencing.
Coming alongside your child in this way, with openness, gives you a different vantage point and a very different connection. When you do, notice if they open to you, cooperating, sharing, and meeting your needs as well.
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.
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.