The truth about being a parent is that you’ve been handed down a way of being from your parents that will guide your parenting now. And sometimes this truth can be very painful to sit with.
This default parent sits within us all and is passed down from your parenting you received through your neurological pathways, through your experiences and through your brains emotional memory of how being a child was for you. This is then re-created with your children as it is what the brain knows.
And of course, whilst our brain is a complex system of patterns it is always possible to change these patterns. People who come and work with me begin, or continue, the courageous journey of looking inwards. They begin to look to see what parts of their parenting do they wish to hang on to, and which parts do they wish to change.
And parenting has changed. I often think of my Mum who was raised by a parents who survived the Second World War. What a different landscape I am parenting from now living in rural Ireland.
I have found personally, and when working with others, they hardest part of parenting is actually this very beginning bit – developing the skills and awareness to really see what’s going on for the parent. Which behaviours and emotions people are carrying from their parenting (and indeed the parenting that has been passed down through the generations, think of my Nan here and her post war baby) are so intrinsically part of us all that it can be tricky to actually see what’s going on.
My experience is that often there can be a level of over-compensation which sometimes comes with a mismatch of how the parents want their parenting to be. Often the parents inner most fears and needs that weren’t met as a child come out in their parenting with their children. For example, a parent who didn’t feel a closeness with their parent may inadvertently create a relationship that is smothering or enmeshed with their child. A parent who was brought up in a very strict way without many choices may find boundaries with their child difficult, offer too may choices or too much freedom which creates an instability in the parent child relationship.
Children are always looking for parent to create security for them and with them and this always begins with the parent looking inwards and creating security and stability within themselves. This doesn’t mean not having problems or being emotionally ok all the time (does this even exist?), it means being able to manage being not ok, being able to create what we call an emotional container for what’s going on. I digress a little.
Back to your parenting default. Can you see the parts of parenting that have been handed down to you? Are you continuing them and do you want to do be parenting in this way? Trying to keep ourselves at arms length and trying to be an outsider observing what’s going on can be really helpful here in bringing awareness to parenting and working out what is going on.
If there are parts of parenting that you are finding hard, it’s usually because there is a relationship being played out with your child(ren) and you that is your parenting default automatically running the show, rather than the parent you thought you’d be. Take time if you can to separate the two. I find that parents who have the courage to work out who they’d like to be as a parent do this best by firstly being aware of the inner parenting default mode then putting the steps in place to work out what to do about it.
If you are looking to better understand your parenting default here is my free resource 5 Steps to Calmer Parenting which can help you to bring the awareness that you are looking for. Are you ready to take things a step further? Then join the Waitlist for the Calm & Confident Collective, a private parenting membership where we work through parenting problems, including your parenting default.
And remember if you can that every parent has parts that they find hard and that they wish to change. And what a gift this change is is for you and your children.