The Parenting Paradigm…
…creating a new standard
by Lori Walton
Giving birth to a child does not require any sort of skill. You simply have to be sexually mature and sexually active. Giving birth to a child does not make you a good parent. There are many “parents” out there who have no idea how to love someone or nurture someone, they resent having a child to look after. Just what is a parent? What is a parent supposed to do?
We have all kinds of literature out there that are a guide for pregnancy. Which stages your fetus is at. When it starts to develop major organs, develop different features. Books that tell you what types of changes your body is going through during your pregnancy.
There are classes, books and videos that prepare a woman for child birth. What to expect, how to breathe, what to bring. For the most part you know how long you will be staying in the hospital and when you should be able to go home.
Now you are home; parenting. Where does this information come from? You are too tired to read a book, you are exhausted and expected to be the sole caregiver to this little human being immediately. It is up to you to offer safety, security and unconditional love.
You know when the baby cries she is hungry, wet or dirty right? So you bump around and take care of those needs. She cries you feed her. She cries some more, you change her. She is still crying, you hold her, many times in tears yourself.
In the wee hours of the morning on the 5th to 8th night at home there are times you are hoping she would just shut up so you could get some sleep. Sounds harsh? Remember what it was like. Close your eyes and remember all the times during that first month where you were so exhausted you just wished beyond all hope that your precious little angel would just allow you some sleep.
Do you remember trying to do it all? Keeping the house clean, making dinner, entertaining guests and well wishers, some of whom would insist on picking up your angel whom just fell asleep after 3 hours of crying. Do you remember after the physical demands and exhaustion of child birth not ever having a chance to fully recuperate? Do you remember thinking you might have a chance to do that at home? Surprise, there is no rest for the mommies.
How does one become prepared and equipped to parent a child? You can read all the books you want to read but they are all the authors’ opinion on their experience with the children in their lives. Your children are your own, they are unique in themselves. What is good for one “expert” just might not have anything to do with your reality.
So just how do we know how to parent? Our subconscious mind kicks in and takes over most tasks.
When we were very, very young we observed our parent, which is how we learned to get along in our world. As a toddler if we came across something new to us, the first thing we would do is look for our parents reaction to see if what we were about to touch caused fear or anger in their eyes or joy and laughter to their beings. This is how we knew if it was okay to explore or not.
This is important to notice that if a parental figure is not physically or mentally present when a child is learning something new, that child may not have a good experience with that new thing. They may come across something new, turn and see Mom smiling and laughing (at someone else), so they think it is safe and put their hand in that scalding water. On the other hand a child may have done something amazing and his parents may have totally missed out on it, so the turn of his head to see Mom or Dad ignorant to his accomplishment will have another kind of impact on the child.
These are all cues we subconsciously absorb as how “parents” should be in our world. When we are under the age of five we take everything in and do not question it. So as our mother and father “parent” us we accept it as normal. This is unquestionably the way it is done. It becomes embedded in our consciousness as our reality.
Now really take some time to think about this. We learn to parent… from being parented.
What were your parents like? Were they patient? Were they demanding?
Were they loving? Were they cruel?
Were they prepared? Were they surprised?
Were they selfless? Were they selfish?
When they got angry or frustrated, how did they handle that?
Did they act or react to things?
Did they snap at you or did they breathe it out?
Were you called names in the heat of the moment?
Were you hit, spanked or beaten?
Or were you banished to your room or simply ignored?
Did your parents take a minute to discuss the situation?
Did they hear you out?
Did they value your opinions?
Did they hear your concerns and listen to your voice?
Did they allow you to feel whatever you were feeling and simply be present to it? Validating those feelings not by words but by simply witnessing you?
Did you swear you would never be like them? Or do you strive to be more like them?
In the heat of the moment notice… who is talking to your children? Is it you consciously choosing to parent in a way that is meaningful for you? Or is it your sub consciousness kicking in? An example of the sub consciousness kicking in that I like to use is one from my own life.
Read these words and look at where it sounds familiar, where your body starts to have a reaction, wear you start to get angry or maybe start to judge with how you would do it.
Every day I come home from work and pick up the children at the babysitter. My eleven year old begins with the “I want’s” and the “Can I’s” while my 2 year old is both starving for supper and wanting me to pick her up at the same time. I am at the counter trying to start dinner so it is ready on time for my spouse’s arrival home and so my eleven year old can get out the door on time for Tae Kwon Do.
I am already tired from my long day at work. I am hurrying trying to get the potatoes peeled and on the stove. My two year old is at my side and won’t let up. “Mommy, mommy up, mommy up” trying to squeeze her little body in between me and the counter. I’m working with a knife trying to peel the potatoes.
In my head I begin to resent my spouse for not being home yet (even though he hasn’t done anything) and I feel frustrated that she might hurt herself shoving me around trying to get my attention when I am using a knife.
I demand to my eleven year old who is watching TV. “Can you please DO something with her?” My eleven year old half heartedly tries, but her sister will have nothing of it. “Mooommmyyyyy, UP! Whaaaa!”
I yell right back at her, “I’m busy here I can’t do everything you know” and I start getting angry at my eleven year old for not doing something.
As the minutes pass, I feel rage building up in side, I continue to argue with my two year old, telling her all the reasons I can’t pick her up right now, trying to reason with her, trying to get her to understand. I begin to cry out of anger and frustration.
“Mommy, up!” I turn and I scream at the top of my lungs “GET OUT OF HERE!”
My two year olds face immediately falls and she starts to cry. She is frightened, confused and upset. She goes off to her sister to cry or in her room by herself.
I begin to cry even harder. What kind of monster am I anyway? I stop what I am doing and go to find my two year old to console and ask for forgiveness. Mommy is so sorry.
This scene would repeat, time after time, at least once every two weeks in one form or another. Sometimes it would be my eleven year old who would be the receiver of this, sometimes my two year old. Each time I hated myself for reacting the way I did.
You see when I was busy at the counter… my consciousness was on the task at hand, not on my children. It was modeled to me as a child, if ever I bothered my father when he was busy I would get yelled at and I’d disappear.
Shorten that up a bit and put that into the mind of a young child who doesn’t question the rules or models of reality they are being presented.
If children are “bugging” or interrupting an adult who is busy doing something, the children’s needs are much less important that the adults.
This was a tape that I learned as a child of “correct” behavior to engage in during a situation like this. This is why I felt so horrible immediately after running that program. It was not mine. It was not my conscious self engaging with my children in that way. I remembered immediately being that child who is on the receiving end of that. This is crazy making stuff.
So how do I change that? First of all I learned that there is consciousness and sub consciousness at play in everything we do. I learned that I can question things in my life, are these behaviors still serving me? With the example I gave they were not. How do I know that? I felt horrible when I engaged in that behavior (or soon there after). “But I always do it… I can’t change it, it is a habit now”…
I learned that I can live at cause in my life and not allow myself the easy way out (living at effect).
I learned that I can take responsibility for myself and CHOOSE to do things differently. Remaining a victim of my parenting no longer serves me. I will consciously choose to parent differently.
I named the behavior I was no longer happy with. And became conscious of the fact I no longer wished to parent in that way. I began to choose differently. I invited myself to notice when I start employing that strategy (playing that tape) and stopping myself.
At first it was hard to do, I would catch myself after the fact during my remorse stage. But I would take that time not only to apologize but to let the children know what my intentions are. I want to stop ignoring your requests, I want to stop and listen to you, dinner can wait (or whatever it may be).
Each time it would get easier, and eventually I began to notice during my “reactions” and I’d stop… breathe… turn off the stove and talk to or spend time with the kids.
Now it is more immediate, I have discovered it goes by a lot quicker if you turn your attention to the children right away, then you can get back to supper a lot quicker. It worked much better and quicker than arguing for ½ hour.
I am must definitely NOT saying I never go to the reaction side of the equation anymore. I certainly do it more often than I would like to admit. What I also know is that I have an intention and hold my identity as a conscious parent… so when I do slip, it is a growing experience for us all.
My conversations with my eleven year old are a lot more honest then they ever were. She can freely express herself without fear of being shot down, this doesn’t mean she gets her way… this simply means she has a valid voice in our household and her feelings are recognized. She also sees how even as a parent, I am not perfect, I make mistakes and the key to it all is I am learning from it.
You don’t have to parent like your parents do simply because you don’t know any other way. You don’t have to remain silent and ignore what is not working for you in your parenting relationship with you children. You don’t have to carry on the cycles of abuse that you suffered from at the hands of your parents. You can choose to stand in your intention to consciously parent.
I’m not an expert any more than you are. Only you know what is going on in your family system. Only you know what feels right inside yourself and what makes you feel crappy. These are big signals to pay attention to.
Do you feel guilty?
Do you cry?
Do you become angry at yourself for your actions / reactions?
These are huge invitations for you to consider trying something different.
Tomorrow is a new day… and there is always more.
Copyright © 2007, Lori Walton - used with permission.
Lori Walton: Author, Facilitator, Mother, Coach and Civil Servant. A certified WEL-Systems® Master Facilitator and a certified Quantum TLC™ Facilitator, she is continuing her journey of self discovery. In understanding we are all Quantum Biological Processors she has awakened to a new way of engaging life in an instant. Lori is passionate about inviting women to reclaim their unique sound… one voice at a time. Through her articles she hopes to invite people to awaken & engage! If you wish to contact Lori you can do so through her blog at www.loriwalton.blogspot.com
Curious about more? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lori at (902) 461-9169.
~ Exploring Our Potential Consulting ~ Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
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