It’s not your fault. That voice didn’t come from nowhere. It’s not a reflection of your worth as a person or how good you are at this parenting thing.
That’s what we are led to believe because of the way we were parented. We were held responsible for all of our behaviour. So if we hit our sibling or stole some money from our parents wallet our parents would have most likely shouted at us/blamed us/punished us etc. We internalise this punitive, blame culture and feel terrible about ourselves.
Actually the brain science of children’s behaviour shows that when our children act in off-track ways, it’s because they got upset, scared, worried, or sad. When that happens, the part of the brain responsible for rational, reasonable behaviour isn’t functioning as well. All kids are born with a strong innate sense of right and wrong that sometimes gets forgotten in the heat of the moment. The same happens with us sometimes.
It’s not our fault, and it was never your fault. Our brains are more developed than our children’s, so we do have more self-control, but the brain science remains the same. When we get upset, stressed, worried. etc, the rational, reasoning part of our brain doesn’t function so well.
When this happens, the reason why we shout is related to our own childhood. When we can’t think through our actions well, we tend to react based on how our parents responded to us in similar situations. So if we got shouted out, hit, etc. we tend to react in similiar (albeit often less harsh ways) to our children. Sometimes, we start speaking in the exact sentences our parents used.
It’s not your fault, this is happening. It’s a reflection of the ways you were hurt as a child. But you can do something about it.
In Parenting From The Inside Out Dr. Dan Siegal explains how telling stories helps us to heal from the past, so we no longer need to ‘retell’ our history through our reactions. Making sense of the hurts and challenges we experienced means we don’t have to reinact them with our children.
The challenges you face as a parent are often a reflection of the difficulties you had when you were a child.
Creative writing and journalling is one way we can make sense of our past. With Hand in Hand parenting, we also do listening partnerships, where two parents exchange time talking and listening with each other, venting about what’s hard in parenting, and tracing these difficulties back to the past.
Forgive yourself, and nurture yourself, and it will then become easier to ‘forgive’ your child’s challenging behaviour too!
You might like to try answering this question, in a notebook, or with a listening partner. What are your current parenting challenges? How would your parents have reacted to you in a similar situation?
So print out this blog post, and keep it somewhere safe, so in those moments that you feel like you’re about to lose it you can remember, it’s not your fault.
You can also sign up to my blog (on the top right hand corner of this page) so you can get regular supportive blog posts to your inbox.
To learn more about the coping mechanisms we can use to stay calm with our kids check out my book Tears Heal: How to listen to our children