Parenting Through Unconditional Love
SometimesI write here so I can process something that I am working on. One of those things that I have been struggling with is being a parent. I have found myself questioning all of my abilities in this area and I often question if I'm qualified to do such a big job. But then again, I'm stable minded, have no mental illness or drug addiction. I have a strong faith in spirit, and often use my higher power to help me get through rough patches. I have a good support system, my finances are better than most. And I have an amazing mom who taught me about love and life from her own struggles in life. On paper, I'm truly qualified to raise my kids. But let me tell you, I have often wanted to throw in the towel and say "I quit!"
On one such day, I vented to others about my frustrations around parenting and I found a universal voice that said, parenting is one of the hardest things anyone could do. Yet there is no booklet that is given to you to help guide you. Anyone can be a parent and very often the wrong people are handed these babies when they can't even deal with their own lives. I can see why there is such a problem in this world with abuse, neglect and abandonment.
One thing I have learned is our children read our emotions and then react to what they perceive. Children need for us to be emotionally present, since they are unable to process their emotions without our help. So when we are stressed, angry, or sad, our kids sense this and then act out in ways that only exacerbate our previous feelings. This is what makes parenting so hard! We are only human, and to ask us to be anything less is just crazy talk. This is where I have been struggling. I am human, you know!
Then I found real help. I know this sounds a bit cliché, but on one particular weekend I was having a really hard time with my boys and fighting back tears I prayed to God to help me. The next day I went to church and my prayers were answered. For one, my Reverend, who is a single mom as well with two teenage daughters, had the same day as I had the day before. Her struggles were almost identical to mine, except she has pre-teen girls and I have two young boys. But no matter how hard you try to come from a loving place, sometimes you just can't.
It was also during this service it was announced that they were going to have a woman by the name of Heather T. Forbes come speak at my church (I go to Unity Church and they often have amazing authors/speaker come to do workshops). I immediately purchased her book "Dare to Love: The Art of Merging Science and Love Into Parenting Children with Difficult Behaviors." I once looked up Oppositional Defiant Disorder for my youngest son, because he truly qualifies as someone with "difficult behaviors."
What I learned in this book felt so instinctively right and life changing, it has inspired me to write this blog. I learned that when children act up, they are doing so because they are coming from a place of fear. There is something in their lives that has traumatized them thereby giving them the feeling of being unsafe and out of control. The book suggest that it is our job as parents to not only understand where they are coming from by recognizing their trauma, but to allow them a safe and loving place to let these emotions to come forth, so they can then get past them.
I have always felt that love is all you need. I also think children need boundaries, and this book is not saying you should throw out structure, because kids really need this. What it says instead is to first and foremost, understand that the child is hurting and to not take their "bad behavior" as a personal attack on you. It is our jobs to offer them a safe place to be themselves. In fact I have learned that just by modeling this loving behavior, they too will want to do this naturally.
I believe in this, even though I'm still at the starting point of healing with my son. My divorce has been hard on him, and now that I know his behavior isn't about me and something I'm doing wrong, I can now look at him differently and have the strength and courage to be a better parent.
So, my mission and one on instill on all of you... do the best you can do today. Always come from a place of love and trust that every little bit of love you give will provide a supportive base that will last your children a lifetime. Or, you can say to yourself, "this too shall pass." Lord knows that has helped me more than once.