My preteen daughter handed me her phone so I can speak to her mum and grandma this morning. The three of us women have a blast every time we talk, laughing and gasping for air, confusing the kids with the heaviest of Amharic words they have ever heard and enjoying every second of it. This was exactly the energy I needed to start a full day of clients calls, a full heart connecting with women my culture had predetermined I would have fear and dislike towards or compete against.
Oh the blessings!
After I ended the call, my eyes got stuck on a certain text conversation my daughter was having with her friends. Curiosity would then take over me, overcome the best of my values and I would spend the best part of a half hour scrolling. Sometimes in awe, other times audibly chuckling at the pre-teen humor, the whole time with my jaw hanging low.
Oh parenting! What the hell are we even doing?
After I peel my fingers off her phone, I get overwhelmed by a familiar sense of confusion, fear, dread of what it usually is like to be a parent these days. I move on to process my emotions on the Shitty First Draft of this very blog you are reading that ended up being a journal entry, followed by a chat over coffee with my husband, then shelved the tougher and more stubborn thoughts for my next therapy session and proceeded to make my client calls.
Turns out, God has a sense of humor. My very first client for the day needed coaching around what she read on her preteen's diary that was making her hella defensive.
Oh the misery!
Class is in session folks!
Of course when I put the coach hat on, it all became clear. We parents can be a bunch of reactive, scared, unsafe, insecure children with children of our own. And we need to reparent ourselves if we are not going to lead both ourselves and our kids in the wrong direction. Straight to the ditches of life.
Have you ever wondered what inside of you gets triggered in parenting? When the toddler is having a meltdown on the grocery store floor, they repeatedly say and do what you repeatedly explained they should not say or do, the preteen is giving you attitude, the teen slams his door, you discover a lie they've told and maintained, when they tell you they hate you and you're not sure if they mean it or not. Who in you is it that gets set on fire?
Let's face it. We were not parented to parent. Most of us were not taught how to regulate ourselves, understand our own emotional ins and outs. Our own caretakers had no idea what to do with theirs and therefore never gave us the blueprint for managing ours. There was more dysfunction modeled around us than interpersonal relationships built around mutual respect and boundaries, there were more slaps/pinches/rods that were not spared than adults teaching us how to handle difficult emotions out of worth not fear. We are dis regulated, unvalidated, insecurely attached, defensive and hyper vigilant for emotional threats from all directions. Getting triggered is in our bones, we are habituated to react to threats. And what do we do with all that mess? We go and become parents ourselves!
OH the madness!
Let's not turn our backs on the times in which we have chosen to take parenting on. Technology roaming free ushering unfiltered information to young and underdeveloped minds we have brought into the world, threats of all kinds everywhere from their fingertips to their schools, a culture shock we ourselves have not figured out how to integrate with an already formed identity we brought to the western world, hormonal changes that keep inching earlier and earlier in age that make our kids shock us before we think we are ready to accept they are no longer our little ones. I can go on.
A conscious parenting expert, one of my favorite teachers Dr Schefali once responded to a question about why she only has one child if she has figured out parenting by saying " It only took me one to wake up"
"Ouch" is all I have to say as I am raising 5 kids and don't yet identify as a parenting expert. OUCH!
So what do we do? Not have kids? Give the ones we got up for adoption?"I would like to keep all 5 together please?"
The thing is, parenting itself wakes us up BECAUSE it brings up the need to REPARENT ourselves.
READ. THAT. AGAIN.
If you are not just getting by, simply allowing the current to toss you around, the unconscious (inner child, un parented) to rule your life and calling it your fate; you are waking up through repareting yourself.
What does that even look like?
Oh the beauty!
Reparenting ourselves is not about blaming our parents but about understanding what they could not have given us and giving that to our inner child that is threatening to take over our lives right now. It is about giving ourselves what we needed but were not given. Love, validation, security, healthy attachment, boundaries and so on. We get curious about what is missing or what could be present in unhealthy amounts and we get about the business of healing that unevenness in ourselves.
Then we can learn to parent from a soft place. A secure place where we can give our kids the safety and validation they go outwards to seek and unfortunately risk losing themselves trying in vain to find. We can model self love and self regulation as the best sermon is a good example.
So, go to therapy, work with a coach, read and discover your inner world, journal, create, play, validate yourself, love and raise yourself. It is a thing o wonder and majesty to be able to parent yourself and your kids simultaneously. Nothing else connects you to them deeper.
And don't forget, do as I say, not as I do. From the hypocrites oath. Do not break your kid's trusts and go through their personal stuff. Be the parents they will come to for guidance on ANYTHING because they know they can lean on you. No-one else in the world can do it better than you do.