The line of appreciating your parents for who they are and who they were as they raised you, while birthing your own inner voice of the kind of parent you want to be for your children.
The reason the line is thin is because, I humbly believe that there is a balance that we need to be cognizant of. Our parents have their stories and so do their parents. We have our hopes, dreams and aspirations as did they. I have never met a parent who hasn't tried their best. Some have done a fine job and others struggled wildly.
You may have had wonderful connections and great years or you may have had years streaked with sadness, loneliness and confusion. You may have gone through a blend of experiences where you felt important, seen and understood and at other times wondered about your value, if you're allowed to speak up or if anyone noticed you.
Stories of joy, and stories of loss, grief and transitions. Regardless where you are coming from, I'm certain you have opinions about how you want to do this parenting thing right.
Our job is to learn from what felt right, and implement those aspects. As well, we can learn, integrate new concepts and improve ourselves so we can show up in the best ways for our children. Now, heres the thing. I want you to be honest with yourself about your identity as a parent. Not as a child, but as a mom or dad who is raising a child. Let's help you parent as mindfully as possible.
A story we tell ourselves about the person we are. This narrative is made up of the good times, positive experiences as well as some of wounding, upsetting experiences. Some have gone through the unintentional wounds of life that are unavoidable and others have been intentionally hurt by people who have inflicted harm due to their own inner demons.
Survivors of trauma, loss or neglect often have scars, and when offered the opportunity to heal, are incredibly resourceful in moving forward, rebuilding a sense of self and creating lives of beauty and meaning. Regardless of history, every individual can gain from the occasional parenting book and tips in understanding they way their families function so they can show up optimally.
Since there's no such thing as having a perfectly balanced, 100% attuned home environment and community life, we've all got our blind spots to look at. One of my greatest passions is in helping parents notice if they may be (unconsciously) recreating an old dynamics and getting stuck in the past instead of freshly stepping into the possibilities that lie ahead in their present life.
I see this as a gentle reminder to offer healing, insight and wisdom for the present and future you currently have the opportunity to create.
1. getting clingy, anxious, worried and preoccupied.
2. shutting down, freezing and disconnecting from the world and those around you.
3. getting enraged with anger and mistrust.
4. fleeing from the moment, abandoning others by leaving or using alcohol, food or drugs to numb yourself.
It's only natural to pick up on things from those around us. We undoubtedly carry traits from our families of origin; some will be helpful and great and others we may want to adapt and change. We all have blind spots of flaws or imperfections, and that's ok.
Your job, though, is to do your best to relate to your children from a place of healthy connectivity, and build solid foundational blocks instead of re-enacting old family dynamics.
You can highlight the parts that make you take a second glance and see what you can do to build a steady parenting relationship with your children
Enjoy the journey! Parenting has many moments of sweet joy, opportunity and connection for yourself, your children and your family.
May you take the opportunity of building your own strong, healthy family patterns to heal old wounds and reclaim the power and love that family life is truly all about.
Esther Goldstein LCSW is psychotherapist and trauma specialist with a private practice in Cedarhurst, NY. Esther specializes in treating anxiety, trauma, relationship issues and parenting struggles with an emphasis on developing healthy attachments. Esther currently runs Dialectical Behavioral Therapy groups in her practice, and facilitates Trauma Informed Consultation groups for therapists committed to improving their trauma-informed practice. Esther's website is esthergoldsteinpsych.com