I was beating myself up about my parenting. My daughter and I weren’t laughing anymore. We weren’t doing special time. I was feeling terrible about myself and how much I was ‘failing.’
Then I stopped myself. Hold it I thought. Okay, I did learn some really good parenting tools from Hand in Hand Parenting. But was there a rule somewhere that said I had to use them every day, all the time? And if I literally couldn’t use them was it a failing in myself?
Of course not. I know the brain science behind our parenting, that we can be the parents we want to be, only when our own childhood story isn’t getting in the way. and when we are feeling calm and stress-free.
My sister got diagnosed with Leukemia last month. Since then each day my mind is dealing with overwhelming grief, confusion, and fear, on top of all the everyday parenting stuff. The moment I stopped laughing with my daughter was the moment I found out about my sister. It had nothing to do with me being an inadequate parent, but to do with what I was going through.
I’ve written before about how life crises can get in the way of our parenting, and how we can go about mending those broken connections, and it’s time to take my own advice.
You might not be on the brink of divorce or with a close family member seriously ill, but the past can often effect us just as intensely as the present.
It starts with a little self-compassion. Whether the broken connection with your child occurred because of something happening in the present, or because you are dealing with hurt feelings from your own past, it’s not your fault.
You might already know that consciously, as I did, but sometimes it’s a good idea to check what those whispering voices in your head are telling you. Because as Peggy O’Mara says, ”the way we talk to children, becomes their inner voice.” Because we were punished and shamed as children we tend to punish and shame ourselves when we are not parenting the way we want to be.
Give yourself permission to be an imperfect parent for a while. And forgive yourself for all those times that you made mistakes. Take the focus away from how you are parenting, and put it completely on yourself. Give yourself permission to let the kids eat ice cream for dinner or watch TV. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Tell those voices in your head, that you are taking some time for yourself because it will be for everyone’s benefit in the long run. Then get some listening time. (for more info about listening time check out my article here) And each time you feel bad, inadequate, or like you’ve failed, make sure you schedule more listening time until you recover the energy you need to be the parent you want to be.
It takes time. In the meantime congratulate yourself on your small achievements. So you might not spend an hour doing special time with your child, but how about 5 minutes? And you might not giggle and play all day, but maybe you get through a day without shouting. As your energy and attention span return you can then start focusing on connecting with your children again, and you’ll find some tips for this in the links below.
We shouldn’t need to have permission to be an imperfect parent, but if you feel like you need it, take this blog post as your permission slip, for whatever reason you find it hard, whether it’s a current life crisis, or childhood hurts that are still healing. You have permission to be beautifully imperfect, you are doing your best.
Special Time When Your Heart Is Breaking From Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor Roma Norriss.
The Healing Broken Connections chapter of my book,Tears Heal