I Created this Sh$t Show. Now I Have to Fix It.
I remember the conversation with my coach so clearly when I spoke those words
I created this sh$t show. Now I have to fix it.
I had jumped head first into this new parenting approach.
Everything I was reading and learning just made so much sense.
And let’s face it, what I had been doing up until this point was NOT working.
The time-outs and taking away toys or screen time or privileges
The magnet charts and rewards
The problem was I knew I didn’t want to do that anymore
but hadn’t yet created the connection with my kids,
I hadn’t worked through all of my fears that caused me to react and need to control
I hadn’t yet built the muscle of my own emotional regulation to not react.
They hadn’t yet learned they could trust me.
To believe that I really was on there side.
It’s like I had slid down a slope into a deep valley
I had a choice to try to climb back up where I came from (and believe me that I would have if my coach had let me)
or to surrender to the chaos in between
until the steps to climb out the other side were revealed.
But in that chaos,
I saw all these behaviors from a new light.
The yelling and the back talk,
the disrespect and not listening,
the refusal to cooperate,
and the rivalry among brothers.
And I took that guilt that I had created these behaviors and wore it like a cloak.
The guilt that I had created all these behaviors that I had been trying to punish.
The guilt that I had failed my boys.
I tried to run from the guilt by hiding in the past. I wanted to go back to how I parented before. The evidence was all around me after all that this wasn’t working.
The behaviors were getting worse.
And I had nothing to fall back on to get compliance.
I had created this sh$t show. And it was messy.
The chaos was all around me.
What had I done? I had released control. I had stopped punishing and handing out consequences like candy.
And just like I feared, everything was crashing around me.
I was trying to not yell. SO HARD.
But everything seemed so out. of. control.
How was this going to work? Especially when I had my husband commenting (not so under his breath) how out of control it was.
Did he not think I didn't realize.
No one was listening. Even simply things like eating dinner at the table (which was not an issue) became a circus side show.
With me in the middle alternating between gently trying to guide. And checking out.
Because this. was. too. much.
Welcome to my journey into peaceful parenting.
I stuck with it. I had to. I wanted this connection with my boys. I needed this connection with my boys.
As I was reading through books like Peaceful Parent, Happy Child by Dr. Laura Markham or Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel, J. Siegel, MD and Mary Hartzel, M.Ed, I was learning how our brains are wired to be connected beings. Children simply cannot thrive without that loving connection. That cooperation and listening come from the strength of that connection. That children need that secure connection with us to learn to love themselves and to love others.
Children thrive when they feel connected and understood. Parenting effectively depends above all on your connection to your child. Period. Children need to feel deeply connected to their parents or they don't feel entirely safe, and their brains don't work well to regulate their emotions and follow parental guidance. Dr. Laura Markham
Trying to control was getting me nowhere. Except maybe to overwhelm.
Dr. Markham was telling me that "small humans rebel against force and control, just as big humans do. But they're open to our influence, as long as they respect us and feel connected to us."
But why was this so hard. I thought about giving up. More than once.
And I probably would have too. Another just not for me moment. Either I wasn't smart enough to get it or just wouldn't work for my kids.
Because this felt like giving in. Letting them win. Throwing in the towel.
It’s like I was trying on a new coat and it was scratchy and didn’t fit quite right so I wanted to take it off and put on my old one over looking that it was filled with holes and really wasn’t working to keep me warm anymore. It was comfortable and familiar.
And it wasn’t this insanity that I was living in now.
The only thing that kept me moving forward was my parenting coach.
Listening to me. Validating me. Bringing my fears to the light. Loving me and holding me to the vision that things could be different.
My focus became who I was being as a parent.
I let go of controlling my child’s behavior and instead focused on the one thing completely under my control
Who I was being.
When it stopped being all about my child’s behavior, I began to see my child in that moment.
I began to see a child who is struggling and doing the very best he’s capable of in that moment.
I stopped yelling at a little boy who just hit his brother and I saw my child needing attention.
I stopped yelling to go to bed and saw my child struggling to separate at bedtime.
I stopped yelling to clean up the toys and saw my child overwhelmed with my request.
I stopped yelling and I listened. I empathized.
I chose to be flexible when i could and firm but loving when I needed to be.
I reflected on my struggle to be present and my need to be in control.
I asked myself why I couldn’t tolerate their big emotions.
I leaned into the stories and beliefs from my childhood that held me hostage in parenthood.
I chose to see the unhealed wounds that my child was guiding me to.
See we all have unhealed trauma from childhood.
No matter how wonderful our childhood was.
We are interpreting the world through a limited lens of experience.
But it’s these beliefs that cause to react to our child.
That keep us from choosing love.
That keep us holding onto fear.
Fear that hides as love and good intentions.
Because in loving our child so much, we want them to be happy and successful.
But that fear can hide in a steely insistence that our child do well in school. Fear that fails to accept when they are struggling. So we become relentless in pushing them. We hire an army of tutors. We micromanage their performance and teach them to fear failure.
As Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D writes in The Awakened Family
Chances are that if we find ourselves reactive and overwhelmed, it’s because some aspect of our past is interfering with the present- either an emotion that was left dangling and unintegrated, or a fear-based myth we were conditioned with that’s now paralyzing our ability to act in an empowered way.
Fear that leads to anger and disappointment when our child doesn’t live up to the expectations that we hold for them. So we demand and command. We punish and yell.
We’ve after all been conditioned by our past and what society tells us we need to do to raise our children.
But what if that’s all wrong. What if there was another way.
A way that was free from this fear holding you hostage.
A way that focused on the relationship with your child in any moment over the behavior.
A way that focused on who you were being as a parent.
I didn’t see any other way of parenting because I didn’t know any other way.
Now I can’t imagine parenting any other way.
Turns out I didn’t have to fix anything. The mom I wanted to be was under there all along.
And once I let her come out, all those behaviors I was trying to “fix” changed too.
If you’re curious about peaceful parenting and what might be possible in your family, schedule a complimentary 1-1 session. If you’re ready for a 180 degree change in your parenting. If you desire peace in your parenting, click here to get you some loving support!!
Irene is a certified parenting coach who is passionate about creating peace in parenting and opening parents hearts to what is possible in their family. She works with clients 1-1 and offers support through her digital course, The Peaceful Parent Playbook. She is host of the private Facebook Community, The Moms Hive. She is inspired to help moms let go of the doing that leads to the overwhelm and more “bee-ing” in peace, joy and a love for parenting.