Overcoming the Inner Child
Why Being Perfect in our Parenting is Impossible
We all want to do better at raising our kids than our parents did.
In adulthood, as I look back on my own home life, I reflect on how it wasn’t an all bad childhood, but at the same time, the good didn’t out-weigh the bad. And it's affected my outlook on life now that I'm no longer present in that small period of time and space. I've brought it with me into the ‘freedom of adulthood’ which I fantasized about as a child, and now it effects how I motivate on a day to day basis. Making that youthful fantasy become a drab reality.
It compromises my ability to exercise both my internal and external freedoms.
The parents in my childhood life were stressed and uptight. They were constantly worried about money and consistantly correcting our "bad" behavior. Instead of just letting us be children. When we were inexperienced, as children often are, there was anger and frustration, instead of understanding and compassion. Often, fights or disagreements in my house turned to screaming matches, and sometimes physical altercations. It is easy for me to understand, looking back, how I now carry the heavy tension that I grew up with in my shoulders.
My mother's anxiety tiptoed around my father's anger.
And in turn, so does mine.
And as I go through life, I encounter, and have lived with this Masculine Anger over and over again; it disturbs my peace, it adds to my tension. And it boils me to my core.
As an adult, my anxiety tiptoes around other people's discomfort, even my own. It presents itself as, a pit in my stomach, creepy crawlies all over my body and inability to breathe freely.
Often, totally invisible to the people around me, especially my son.
It presents itself in left over angst, still bubbling over from never being able to grasp control of my surroundings as a child; anger. Being surrounded by other people's anger can make it hard for one to control their own.
My anxiety rides between not expecting enough from my son, or expecting too much. Is it possible to do both? Many parents fight this internal battle. Sometimes I am tense, and I speak too firmly in what could have been a more light-hearted moment. At times, I have even yelled or spanked, despite what I truly believe and value in the responsibility of parenthood. I lose myself in the anxiety and the heat of the moment. Just as my parents did I suppose.
So how do we move past these subjections that constantly surface from the past? Or do we ever? Don't most of us just learn to be better? Do we get to eventaully live free with only the distant sting of these small, painful fragments? Inevitably, these tiny fragments become permanently woven into our skin, which eventually dull, allowing for smooth and effortless movement... until the next shard digs in.
We're lead to believe that we're supposed to be perfect in our parenting. Though judgements and social standards often cause us to realize that perfection is unattainable and an illusion of individual perception, we still tend to put an insurmountable amount of pressure on ourselves. It is important to realize that our short comings and the way that we handle them, are actually what is either most valuable or detrimental to our children. This means showing examples of empathy, apologies and productive communication alongside our emotions. We must demonstrate all that we can that life is not so cut and dry. It is not only good or only bad, just like we as individuals are not only good or only bad. There is only the ebb and flow of our emotions and experiences, and what we are able to take away from those things. We must ask ourselves, how can we grow from our own shortcomings and negative experiences? If we display our ability to make a change within ourself, we teach our children to have the capability to do the same thing. And while we are present to teach our children, it is also true that they have found us to facilitate the same act. We are constantly learning to teach each other.
Learning to teach. Teaching to learn. That is the bond.