Do you know that feeling at the end of the day when you look back at how your day went and notice that you didn’t nurture the connections you wanted to, feel drained, and overall guilty about how you acted with your family and what you didn’t accomplish?
That was my normal eight months ago. I was an expert in self-aggression, taking myself apart and examining everything I did wrong: I didn’t cover all the topics I wanted to during homeschool time; I still hadn’t graded last week’s tests; I forgot to play Little Ponies with my daughter; my kids didn’t spend enough time outside today; I let my kids use too much screen time; I tuned out my 7-year-old when he was talking about Minecraft. As you can probably imagine, I could go on forever.
Going to bed and waking up I was feeling like I was never measuring up to the idea of the parent I wanted to be. I look back now and can clearly see the impossible standards I set up for myself. I had no idea what healthy personal boundaries looked like, let alone how to implement them. I considered myself to be an above-average parent; I’d read all the books and listened to all the webinars and was breaking paradigms left and right. But, you see, I hadn’t discovered the biggest shift of all. I knew what I wanted for my children, how successful they’d be if only I could get them to (insert anything here). What I didn’t know was what I wanted for myself, how to stay true and honor myself while raising happy children.
Reading the traditional way of parenting I understood it to say how much I had to sacrifice to be a good parent. I read about the scores my child needs to make to predict whether or not they will be an average Joe or a CEO leading their own company, what the best way to school is, how many languages they should speak, and how many instruments they should play. Even gentle parenting tells you how you should treat children so they are emotionally safe and encourages honoring their needs above all else. It wasn’t until I learned and practiced the Purejoy view that I understood why the other ways weren’t working for me and my family.
Purejoy taught me to slow down and encouraged me to know myself, my needs, and my core vulnerabilities. As I understood that I could stop looking to the outside for someone to take care of them for me, and stepping into my true self, offering loving kindness to myself, and setting healthy boundaries (YES! Even with my children!) I honored myself. In doing so, I stepped into my adult capacity which enabled me to make the decisions I thought would bring the most benefits to me and my family. Another turning point was seeing my children as capable and full of wisdom, getting curious about their process and desires. When I take time to see, hear, and understand their high values and their vulnerabilities, I am better able to support them.
Now, I know all of this may sound ideal and lovely in theory, and at the same time, so abstract and sometimes unreachable, but I’ll give you an example of a situation in my day-to-day life and how simple changes are able to shift entire paradigms:
When my children were little, I enjoyed prepping snacks and lunches for them, cutting everything into shapes and adding those decorative picks, and love notes for them to find and enjoy. As they grew older, I had more responsibilities with work and found myself with less time to prepare them, but I kept doing so. As even more time went by I found myself resenting them for expecting me to always prepare their snacks and lunches. I made up stories in my head about their age and how they should have the skills to do it themselves and with every meal I prepared and at every request for a snack I noticed more and more irritation. Then I’d react from an emotionally triggered place and probably ask them – not so kindly – to go get it themselves and probably shame them for being as old as they are and not doing it themselves from the get go, or begrudgingly do it myself and be in a bad mood after.
After my Purejoy training I learned that there were many components to this seemingly simple task. I recognized that they weren’t forcing me to do anything, they were simply stating their desires – and how lovely it is that they felt safe enough to do so. They didn’t need the notes or the picks or the fruit cut out in cute shapes, that was coming from me; I also recognized that it was ok if I didn’t prepare their snacks all the time, if I didn’t feel like it I could express that I’m not available to do so, and share with them what I am offering (listing what they can find in the pantry, or opening a jar they’re not able to), and move on with my day. I don’t tell them what they “need to do”anymore. I share with them what I’m going to do. They are capable of deciding what their next step is. By setting my personal boundary and saying no, when I choose to say no, I am honoring myself and not growing resentful, I see the reality for what it is, and when I say yes it is with a wholehearted yes that fulfills me.
I invite you to consider what you believe your job is as a parent. Leslie once asked me: Do you believe your job is to prepare your child to be successful in the future world you’ve learned to be attached to, as who you think they should be, or could it be your job is to fill them with loving kindness so they are able to show up as themselves and make choices confident in who they are and the abilities they possess?
How might you best support yourself and your child in this vision?
And remember: be curious about your answer, offering it kindness and love and leaving judgment and self-aggression out of the conversation.
Thais is a certified purejoy parent coach living in Honduras with her husband and 3 neurospicy kiddos. As a parent herself, she understand the challenges that come with raising neurodiverse children in today’s fast-paced world. Her coaching approach is based on a combination of evidence-based practices and personal experience. She offers parents the opportunity to see beyond the labels that have been assigned and step into their true selves, and at the same time support their children in finding their brilliance and path in life.