The Purejoy Parenting Blog
Inspiration For Your Parenting Journey
Do you ever think your child didn’t come with an instruction manual? Well, what if they did and yet you aren’t interested in reading it? Why would this be?
In my experience, my parenting manual (conscious loving mother) often gave contradictory instructions to her innate knowing and instructions. Determined to follow mine I often felt like I was trying to put a round peg in a square hole. It was painful for both.
Slowing down I finally noticed that she was giving me cues all the time. Getting curious as to “how” she operated vs “how” I wanted her to be to make me comfortable was radical.
She has her own timing, rhythm, preferences and high values. When I experienced these as a threat to my manual I judged her and needed her to follow my instructions. Not a great set-up for co-operation or honoring her being. I’ll never forget when she was 6 years old and we’d had an argument. I desperately asked her, “How am I supposed to touch your heart if you won’t let me in?” Intensely glaring back she said “Mama, there is a tiny crack in my heart and it is your job to get through it.” Phew! In that moment, I woke up and thought this is up to me to know her not the other way around.
I heard myself saying, “I need you to brush your teeth, I need you to put your pj’s on, I need you to eat good food, I need you to get off the computer, I need you to let me in your heart. On and on it went and yet when I turned around and asked, “What do you need?” Everything changed.
My daughter describes those early days as “My mama was putting her “wantings” on me and when she stopped and turned towards my “wantings” everything changed” My attention turned towards how to enter my daughter’s world understanding her instruction manual. It’s an amazing journey and often not easy for her instructions don’t always look the way I WANT them to. When this happens I turn back towards my “wantings” asking myself, “If she filled all my needs what would that give me?” I would feel loved, appreciated and cared for. Ahhhhh! I was questioning her love which was never a question for her.
Slowing down, closing your book of instructions and getting curious about your child’s cues, are you willing to ask, “what do you need? How do you need me to enter your heart? How do you need me to enter your space?
What’s your rhythm? What’s your timing? When do you feel safe? When do you feel loved?” It’s profound.
Releasing your child from the “need” to feel loved opens your heart to their beauty giving you the opportunity to show up as the parent you want to be, the adult empowered parent that creates an environment for the exquisite child in front of you. As you follow their instruction manual they will reveal their brilliance in their unique way.
When your child doesn’t listen, won’t get in the car seat when you ask nicely, or won’t get ready to leave the house what happens inside you? Does it feel like an emotional threat? Do you feel anger? Most parents express how frustrated they are especially since their children should KNOW what to do.
Let’s dive a little deeper. Anger is a secondary emotion that protects the more vulnerable feelings hiding underneath. When your child doesn’t do what you asked them to do often feelings of powerlessness, helpless and even rejection rise to the surface.
If you’ve spent most of your adult years organizing your life not to feel those feelings you will take your child’s behavior as a personal threat. How dare they get through the fierce protection you have around your tender heart. NO one is supposed to get in there without your permission. And yet, they do and you find yourself overwhelmed and feeling about 3 years old.
Now, think about this. What if it didn’t matter what you think or what you feel in that moment? YIKES! Of course, you have identified that you ARE your thoughts and feelings so when your children innocently bump up against those stories and feelings you find yourself struggling to take control.
What if you just feel what you feel and think what you think and yet don’t come to any conclusions about your child? Impossible? Actually, it is quite possible when you bring your attention to the present moment. When you are emotionally triggered by your child’s behavior you are digging up the past and bringing it into the present. When the feelings are really intense instead of staying with them you then project them into the future.
What if in the moment you relaxed and entered the intimacy of the moment? Just show up for what is without any conclusion about you or your child? Now, this is a practice, and remember you’ve practiced judging and projecting into the future for a long time.
So, offer yourself patience as you commit to entering the moment, giving up your story of the past or future. Drop into that BIG heart of yours watching your child through the lens of love. Of course, they are young and need a LOT of reminders and yet once you surrender taking it personally it is a joy to come alongside them in their self-discovery of who they are.
Then you can turn towards your child asking them about what support they need instead of asking them to support your comfort by being the child you want them to be.
I have a saying that goes, “It’s never about what you think it is about”.
What I mean by this is it’s never about the computer use, or the food, or even the homework.
I know, I know. It sure seems like it is about those things, yes?
When you think it is about the story, such as the computer is BAD, you get very, very focused on demonizing the computer. And, of course, you want to control your child’s use because the feelings you experience inside yourself are extremely uncomfortable.
Your stories about what your kids are doing or not doing are then piled on top of those uncomfortable feelings, and you very innocently believe the external is causing those feelings inside.
Dropping down into the feelings- you feel powerless and helpless. When you feel those feelings you project them onto the computer and your child for enjoying it so much.
The truth is, those feelings live inside you and have been with you all of your life.
The external just awakens those feelings, and yet isn’t the cause.
Feeling powerless and helpless as a young child is very different than having those feelings as an adult. If you weren’t supported to move through those feelings when you were young and they get activated in your parenting now, you’ll fall into very early strategies of trying to control the external to make them go away.
It’s scary to feel powerless as a parent! So, often, we power over with our behavior instead of turning towards the fear inside.
We have this idea, or conditioning, that as parents we should be the all-powerful and the helpful ones. Believing this doesn’t allow us to show up in the present moment, coming alongside our children as they begin to learn and know themselves.
In Purejoy our focus is on knowing ourselves and supporting our children to do the same.
It’s not about knowing what Purejoy would do, or what the conscious parent would do.
It’s all about knowing yourself, trusting your intrinsic internal wisdom so that you can show up in reality instead of showing up for your beliefs and ideas of how it “should” be.
It’s so incredibly empowering to meet your children where they are, instead of
“thinking it’s about what you think it’s about” and getting caught in the story, getting caught in the computer, or they’re not eating, or the homework.
Practice this week seeing what feelings are driving your behavior and therefore your need for control.
PAUSE moving in with curiosity in the present moment coming alongside your child in their discovery of who they are.
Underneath the wall of rage, we walked through last week, are early, early feelings of abandonment, rejection, powerless, and helplessness.
These are the precious feeling jewels you stored away as a young child believing they were somehow dangerous since when expressing them through your behavior you were punished or shamed.
Unfortunately, in our culture ‘good behavior’ is the gold standard which in turn means there is very little compassion or support for the tender feelings that drive so-called ‘bad behavior’.
Those precious feelings got a bad rap and therefore you trained yourself to relegate them to the basement of your psyche.
This was a smart move as a child and yet when you have children of your own, and they express those tender feelings through behavior- it triggers those repressed feelings in you.
No wonder you want to protect your child from having those feelings if you still believe they are dangerous! Without even questioning your belief you’ll find yourself doing to them what was done to you and wondering how this happens?
You committed to being a conscious loving parent and yet hear your mother’s harsh
voice coming out of your mouth when your children behave in triggering ways.
Or on the other side, you find yourself feeling held hostage by your child’s BIG emotions and forget you even have a personal boundary or could possibly take care of yourself.
In Purejoy the definition of a personal boundary is -what’s ok and what’s not ok with me about how I treat myself. A personal boundary is not about how others treat me- ultimately I only have personal empowerment, I cannot control what others think, feel or do. So I bring that boundary inside and make it about how I want to treat myself.
When controlling my child’s behavior, I am binding the expression of her present moment feelings, in hopes, she’ll take care of me keeping those dangerous feelings inside repressed.
On the flip side, giving up and giving in, I refuse to set a healthy boundary, being unwilling to feel selfish, abandoning and rejecting with my child.
Have you ever heard yourself say, “I don’t want my child to feel (insert feeling)?”
Feelings are like waves in the ocean. They come and they go.
They are not who your child is.
And yet, if as a parent you identify your child as rude or mean when they are feeling powerless or aggressive and defiant when they are feeling afraid your child will identify that they ARE mean and rude or aggressive and defiant.
They’ll learn to hide their precious jewels away just like you did as a child.
This story gets passed down from generation to generation and now it’s time to rewrite the story.
The way to do this is to open your vulnerable heart to all the waves of feelings you learned to repress as a child.
Stop, identifying those feelings as being WHO you are.
They are the doorway to your HEART and through committing to your SafeSeat practice you create a safe space to turn towards those feelings with loving-kindness instead of shame and guilt.
Eventually, you become the act of kindness watching the waves come and go knowing who you really are is the OCEAN itself.
RAGE is a terrifying emotion to turn towards with kindness.
RAGE, in my family, was explosive and volatile and often expressed in destructive ways.
Having experienced the destructive behavior of a raging mom I organized my life to never feel this powerful emotion out of an imagined fear that I would behave like her.
Adopting my daughter I never even considered that RAGE would awaken from the depths of my being. Burying it deep down in my psyche along with feeling powerless, helpless and rejected was my young strategy to survive. Closing the doorway to my vulnerable HEART was second nature, so much so that I never considered motherhood would fiercely blow the door to smithereens.
Somehow, in my naivety, I imagined I would only express loving, happy feelings as a mom. I’d waited for what felt like an eternity to find the courage to realize my desire to be a mother. Having done a tremendous amount of therapy and spiritual work I felt confident that I had slayed the RAGE dragon which haunted me from childhood.
I longed to give my daughter the emotionally safe environment I’d never experienced and had a belief that to do this RAGE was not welcome in our home.
And yet, RAGE became the doorway to my HEART: the great awakener.
The more I tried to limit my daughter’s behavior the stronger her RAGE expressed itself. I was “in the weeds” and all my early strategies to slay the dragon only fueled her RAGING fire more. I tried timing it out, pleasing and placating, consequencing and punishing, bargaining and rationalizing, offering love and understanding and yet none of my strategies penetrated her vulnerable HEART.
Only when I bravely looked in the mirror and saw the RAGE was mine did I finally walk towards it naked and vulnerable offering it the recognition and validation it was desperately seeking. My RAGE was the gatekeeper of my tender young vulnerable HEART longing to be seen and held. Honoring it as the great protector allowed me to enter into the deep recesses of my psyche to liberate my precious tender HEART waiting to return home.
My daughter was the bearer of the greatest gift of all. She illuminated my RAGE by expressing hers. Finally, understanding the function of RAGE in myself I could see it in her.
Today, I courageously walk towards RAGE offering my tender vulnerable HEART at the door and amazingly it opens to reveal the innocent longing waiting be held and seen for who I truly am: LOVE.
Do you ever get frustrated with your kids when they refuse to do chores?
Most parents I meet have a belief that chores are important skill sets for kids to learn. And yet, they often push, pull, threaten, shame, or force their children to do them. Sound familiar?
Inherently, most children have a high value on play and being social.
Developmentally, they haven’t reached the stage where working and taking responsibility are high values. Understanding this gives you a “leg up” as a parent.
Instead of coming to the conclusion that they are lazy, selfish, and irresponsible when they balk at your request, use your creative adult capacities to link play and social to the task at hand.
Once you embrace this “secret sauce” you’ll support your child in learning a lifelong skill of linking what they don’t enjoy to something they do.
I know working out is good for my body and yet to be consistent I link it to my high value of being social therefore working out with a friend.
The same goes for cooking. I enjoy cooking as long as I’m doing it with others. Otherwise, it feels like a dreaded chore.
If you find your child resisting ask yourself what can I link to this task that make it more appealing to my child? Creating a positive association to a task registers in their neural pathways as pleasurable. When asked to do the task again there will be a greater chance of cooperation and intrinsic motivation.
I STILL hate to unload the dishwasher because of an early association around being pushed and forced to do something while missing out on the creative endeavors I longed to be doing. What about you?
Take some time this week, to experiment.
When asking your child to do a laborious task (for her/him) use your creativity to engage in doing it in a playful way. Take those lonely grueling tasks and create a social experience.
It’s always easier to do things with a friend or support.
Anything that is high on your values list will be easy and fun to do. Anything low on your values will be difficult without linking it to how it will support your higher values.
Use this little magic to create and support the cooperation you are seeking with your children.
In all my years, I’ve struggled with what I’m now calling “finishing the moment”.
Starting something new, I leave a trail of dust behind in my wake for I’m constantly onto the next shiny object in the distance.
Rarely, do I finish the moment I’m actually experiencing.
In my parenting, this shows up when my daughter is sharing a story about her experience. Instead of listening and opening to staying in the moment, with curiosity, I project her into the future and start talking to her as if she is actually there.
It is extremely challenging to enter the moment staying the course offering presence and support.
Inquiring into this habit I find a deep-seated belief that it is my responsibility to protect her from herself.
Instead of seeing my beautiful competent daughter, I project onto her a helpless, incompetent child that I NEED to protect.
Diving even deeper I see a reflection of my younger self in the mirror longing for someone to come rescue me from my precarious and painful home.
Dreaming of a future when I would have the ultimate control of my life was my saving grace as a child. Unfortunately, this early strategy was choking off the reality that my daughter was not being raised by my mom she was being raised by me.
Trying to control the outcome of the future never allowed for enjoyment of the exquisite experience of the moment. All that I longed for was right in front of my face and yet I struggled to see and embrace it.
I chose to travel a different path than my mom and facing into this truth finally awakened the possibility of “finishing the moment” I find myself in.
I’m finally able to slow down enough to cherish the moments with my daughter exactly how they are. Leaving the future and releasing the past I offer my deepest presence to this moment.
For truthfully, this is all I have.
After years of therapy and spiritual practice, I was sure I had the skills to be the parent I longed to be.
I pictured myself as a BIG open expansive heart energy surrounding my child supporting her to express her heart.
My visions filled me with delight and supported traveling halfway around the world to adopt my daughter from China.
One of my friends looked at me and said, “what a noble act of humanity” and yet the truth is the noble act was on my daughter’s part. She came back for me.
Little did I know I would be faced with all my attachments lingering deep in the corners of my conditioning.
I was attached to her doing what I wanted her to do…Attached to her seeing me as a “good” mom. Up arose my attachment to pleasing her so I wouldn’t feel abandoned and rejected.
I desperately needed her to validate my existence.
I was attached to what she ate, if she did her homework, if she was on the computer too long, and what she wore. Was she being a “nice” girl? Would people like her and invite her to parties?
I was attached.
I thought I was a free spirit who believed in others living their truth and autonomy and yet I was faced with the lie when it came to my daughter. It was a painful reflection.
I had wonderful ideas and concepts and yet the truth was I NEEDED her to be different than she was so I could feel OK about myself. Argggg!
The pain and rejection at times felt overwhelming and I found myself protecting myself by closing my BIG heart. NO!
And yet she came back for me! Never, did she turn on me as I turned on her?
She kept loving me….loving me…even when I hated myself….what?!
Slowly, I opened the door and faced those attachments that were strangling my love, my wisdom, and my heart longing.
As I opened I stepped into my adult capacities and showed up for my daughter. Confident and loving I took the seat of awareness and over time I’ve witnessed her struggles, successes, and delights as hers, not mine.
You can do this too!
I host a FREE tea time every other week to connect and share with you my secret sauce so come and join.
The practice of moving toward uncomfortable feelings instead of away from them is counter-instinctual.
So, why would we want to do this?
When little, we experienced BIG desires which translated into BIG sensations rumbling through our tiny bodies.
As we moved towards filling those desires we often hit a roadblock- our parents desire for us not to have what we desired, creating an even BIGGER sensation which our little bodies could not tolerate and therefore BAM!
We acted out, often lashing out at the threat to our desire.
Unfortunately, our parents didn’t quite understand the mechanics and fulfillment of desire seeking and therefore punished, shamed, or consequenced us for our acting out.
We were perceived as mean, rude, aggressive, or selfish. Slowly, we learned to repress those intense desires dampening our life force in an attempt to get our needs met in our families of origin.
Becoming parents- we experience our own little ‘desire machines’ expressing their BIG desires and it triggers a wave of shame, fear, and aggression inside of us.
Our life force comes barreling up, often raging, in its fury taking out any desire in its way.
Afterward, flooded with shame and guilt we consequence ourselves by repressing those BIG feelings yet again.
The remedy to this grinding negative feedback loop is to turn towards those BIG desires/energy, in a safe place, like the SafeSeat, turning the eyes of kindness towards the innocent desire that is breaking through your protection and wanting more than anything to be seen, heard and understood.
This is a counter-instinctual movement and only through our adult capacities and awareness can we practice this move.
As those intense sensations, feelings and stories arise we train ourselves to move towards them instead of turning away by projecting them onto our children.
As adults, we commit to retrieving our life force- teaching ourselves to honor and stay with our true desires.
As we do we then utilize that life force to come alongside our children, support them in honor and love their desires. We recognize the opportunity to guide the energy as our little ones ride the waves of being alive and free!
Together, we liberate the true desire to awaken our HEART energy expanding it for the good of all.
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.