All of us carry with us a little suitcase from the past. Whether we remember our childhood fondly or painfully, we each bring our experiences as a young child into our parenting. And we do it more than we think.
No matter how blissful or painful our childhoods, we all have little pockets of sensitivities and hurts from our early experiences. Our little 4-year-old self hangs out inside of us, protected by our stronger grown-up self. But the pain, joy, desire, vulnerability, fear, and earnestness of our little self informs all we do…. especially our parenting.
Try on the idea that most of the time we are parenting our children how we wanted to be parented. We compensate for pain, fear, and disappointment we experienced as a child.
Take a look at how you might be over-compensating in your parenting to avoid passing on these old hurts to your little ones.
A little slow to say “no” because you felt too restricted and controlled as a kid?
Find it hard to ask for personal space from your kids because you felt isolated and alone as a child?
Experience your child’s crying as painful and unbearable because you cried alone too many times?
Find yourself being overly controlling because you longed for more structure and predictibility as a child?
By reflecting on our childhoods and asking ourselves…
“What would I like to do differently?”
“What would I like to do the same?”
…..we can design our own personal parenting style. We take what we liked from our parents and leave the rest behind. This is an important step in our growth and learning as parents.
Where it gets tricky is when we fail to see our child as a separate person from ourselves…..with different needs, different sensitivities, different fears. We are so busy avoiding what would hurt or scare us that we fail to see the person standing in front of us.
It takes active work to bring ourselves into the present every day and see our little person for who they are. Not an extension or version of ourselves, but a unique individual.
Our challenge is to not “know” our kids each day when we wake up. Be willing to be surprised. Be curious. Watch them and learn. You’ll feel less plugged-in and experience less tension, and your kids will feel “seen” in a new way.
The truth is, that’s really what we all wanted when we were 4-years-old ….to be “seen” for who we were and fully loved as that person. That need is still in our suitcase, even as grown-ups.
So, let’s unpack and try some things on….I hear the weather’s nice here.