This is where it all begins, the journey from your current parent/child relationship dynamic to a healthier, more functional, and happier coexistence! As stated in the video, it’s important that we look back at your childhood in order to gain a clearer picture of what you experienced and where you are coming from as a parent, before we can move forward with the intuition and tools you need to solidify this transformation for a peace-filled home and family life.
Chances are, if you are anything like me, you have had moments in your parenting where you wished you could get a “re-do.” Time and busy schedules can lead to snippy comments, lack of patience, and too much on your plate or your child’s plate. This can lead to words said or actions taken (sometimes unconsciously or inadvertently) that create hurt feelings, tension, and disconnection. The direction we want to head towards is mutual respect, trust, unconditional love, and connection, right?
I don’t think it’s any secret that we tend to parent like our parents did because it’s what we know best and therefore has become our default pattern. Our childhood and our emotional responses to what we experienced within our family of origin, especially during the first six years of life, weigh heavily on the adult/parent we have become today. Even when we can remember and point to what our parents said or did that was not helpful (maybe at times it was even hurtful), unless we consciously choose to do otherwise, we will defer to the parenting protocol we experienced.
For example, let’s say you were raised in a family where your dad was often stressed and preoccupied with financial issues…his job may have been less than secure, or he and your mom bought a home they couldn’t really afford, or maybe there were unplanned medical bills when your brother suddenly got cancer at the age of ten. These factors may have been known to you or not (depending on how much information your parents shared with you). Either way, all you do know is that you experienced a lot of tension in your home growing up and it didn’t make you feel very good. In fact, there were a lot of days when you felt you were walking on eggshells and the anxiety in our body may have been a lot for you to deal with, on top of that you likely didn’t feel you could share this with your parents because (somehow) you knew they were going through enough already or just wouldn’t pay attention to your worries.
Fast forward to today, you might find yourself worrying constantly about your kid’s safety, their grades and whether or not they’ll be given a scholarship because the cost of a college education is unfathomable to you. Because the emotions we feel (both consciously and unconsciously) still exist below the surface, our response to the daily challenges and triumphs with our kids/spouse/career/friends is influenced by these unresolved feelings and the subliminal messaging we received from our parent’s words and actions while we were growing up.
The following exercise PDF is going to ask you to be honest and vulnerable and to share the parts of your childhood beneath the surface of the basic who, what, where, when, and why. We are doing this exercise to discover the generational parenting patterns that exist which might be contributing to the strain in relationships you are currently experiencing in your home.
What are generational parenting patterns you ask? These are the attitudes, emotions, and actions unconsciously handed down from one generation to the next that, if they aren’t uncovered and addressed, will continue to be passed on in the future. The GREAT news is you have the power to shift out of the negative responses and into more positive, open-minded responses to become the change your children and future generations will benefit from!
Past generations were parented largely under what’s known as the dominant parenting paradigm, meaning the parent was not to be questioned, there were rules to be followed and consequences imparted when the rules weren’t followed. Essentially the child’s behavior was more important than the connection with the parent. As a result, children learned the way they behaved (performed) was the way to earn love and acceptance.
If they didn’t behave the way mom and/or dad wanted, they were often punished and shamed. This is why we have a hard time looking at ourselves as adults today, because of the shame we experienced while growing up in our families. When kids grow up within the dominant paradigm, they expect their children will behave the same way they did…do what they are supposed to do in order to receive parent’s love and acceptance. To be specific, in the dominant parenting pattern (paradigm) obedience/cooperation is the ultimate form of love. So, now when our kids begin to act out we often feel frustrated, angry, even disappointed. We begin to question our ability to parent them. We can’t understand why they aren’t respecting us the way we respected our parents “back in the day.” We take everything they say and do very personally.
There is a healthier way to parent, one that encourages mutual trust and respect, one where the connection between parent and child the priority, and we can guide our kids instead of feeling compelled to be in charge of or power over them. When parents are more at peace with themselves, their kids know mom and dad are coming from a place of having their back, the connection and cooperation naturally develops and blossoms from there! This is what’s referred to as intentional or conscious parenting!
When our kids experience our energy as coming from a space of truly supporting and loving them without condition (which, by the way, does not mean they don’t have any structure or consequences and we’re just going to be their best friend and let them do whatever they want) a space of wanting to guide them through this life stage (as opposed to running our own agenda or lecturing them to death or constantly telling them what they need to do), they will open up to us.
Our tweens, teens, and young adults need us in their lives!
Let’s get started on the PDF…grab a notebook, print out the document if you’d like, make sure you’ve got some quiet time to answer these questions as openly and honestly as you can. Doing so will serve you and your most important relationships best! I encourage you to work through the first two sections and take a break before finishing the worksheet. You may need a few half-hour sessions to do justice to this important work!