Two things we generally do (and need to avoid) and how to retrain our brain to new behaviours.
Let me begin by saying that you are a discrete hero to embark on this adventure of parenting.
It is a very tough job. It’s 24 hours, 365 days per year for at least 21 years? And it often continues longer in a different way or in the same way -if you are a Greek!-
There are conflicting views about parenting, and there is no straight knowledge to be given for it. During the early months especially, there is no salary nor any christmas bonus, when you wake up at night, every night for three months. No Bachelors degree, nor Masters to gain knowledge on how to be a parent, what is right or wrong or how to juggle a million things per day -work- shopping-cooking- socialising . You get my drift…
On top of that I know, at least for many years during my psychoanalytic training when I was lying on my analysts’s couch, I used to comfortably blame my parents for any seeming failures or flaws I had .” They, or my father or my mother did this to me”…
Until that gloomy day came and the description of my life story became” I, me, I, me”.
If you were lucky enough to have your friends having kids before you as I was blessed to have two of my childhood friends having children before I had, then you might have learnt something. As for me. Nothing. Zero.
I recall my friend Elena who had small children at the time, and I became so upset when she couldn’t go out with me, because nobody could look after the kids! “Why don’t you just leave them?” I would argue. How naive and selfish! (Her kids were just one two and four years old) ….
So we usually have no clue what we enter into. I will leave out the problems, divorces, separations, or the non-existence of a partner. That would take a whole new article. I am talking about the daily routines, our usual days. The truth is we know nothing about this job.
And that might be good as we rely on our intuition.
Our intuition is better described as Inner Guidance. The telephone connection we have with the Source, or the Universe or whatever you want to call it.
But we have memories that obstruct that telephone conversation. This is when we go into automatic behaviour. The behaviours we have swallowed into our psychic apparatus when we were children ourselves.
To follow are two small steps to help you along the times when you do not enjoy that job and you are drawn to having someone else take over, your auto- pilot(your subconscious). Two things we do and need to avoid plus techniques to re-train ourselves into new behaviours.
The do nots in general, are a tricky thing. There are some you won’t be able to avoid like “Don’t put the candle under the drapes”, or whatever might be life threatening. But, have in mind as a general rule that we as species do not work through do nots. Let me give you an example to illustrate this. ” Don’t think of a pink giraffe with red dots. Don’t even think about thinking a pink giraffe with red dots. Please do not think of a pink giraffe with red dots”. No matter how hard you tried you had the image of the giraffe isn’t it? Well, that’s exactly how your young ones go about learning things. Exploring, attempting, trying out things. In addition to not adding to their learning skills do nots in a specific area create clots. They create stuck situations, create strife , create judgement, fear and definitely a feeling one is not heard.
So, go ahead now and think of three do nots you say and you get stuck. To illustrate this, I shall give you an example. Let’s say you wish your older son to be kinder to your younger one. The auto-pilot would just judge hence apply a do not. Be aware of, find your do nots and then do this: change them into “let’s try this”. At first, it will not come out at all. Then it will come out as fake. That’s OK. Be kind to yourself.You have been brought up with great many do nots and I am sure you are trying hard not to do the same to your children and I am sure you are good enough a parent to them. To assist you to be kinder to yourself let me clarify one thing. This article here is not another attempt of the Universe to show you in writing the terrible job you have been doing as a parent, but rather to introduce new skills. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. This precious statement by Winnicott has taken me through so many dark moments of my journey as a mother.”You are good enough”. No more beating yourself up. Whenever you have a strong sense of not doing a good job (who is judging you anyway?) repeat strongly in your head those words. “I am good enough’. Give yourself time -at least 21 days- to absorb and incorporate this. Allow the same for your child.
First, instead of saying any do not to your child deliberately chose to say “let’s try this”.
Second, whenever a judgement emerges in your mind (even without being followed by a do not) shift the experience with the affirmation “I am good enough”.
What a great gift! To yourself and your child.
So, just try these two techniques out in those three areas you get annoyed with, for as long as you can. However allow at least twenty one days for your system to absorb it and the new behaviour to be shifted as the new auto-pilot. But, you need to allow yourself: 1) Forgetting to use the techniques for at least 1000 times! 2) Feeling a fraud when you actually use them for at least 20 times. And then finally 3) Celebrate and congratulate yourself for being such an amazing parent -at least 1000 times….
2) YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR FEELINGS.
Yes you might feel that this is weird -you are responsible for that feeling, not me! – But, when you have repeated ten times “go to bed”, “brush your teeth”, “do your homework”, if you are human and not a machine reading this article, you might end up annoyed, frustrated, or just plain angry ( if you were Greek definitely by the second or third trial. And if you were a fiery Greek from the first time as the child must have done the task instantly)!
Whenever you are upset with your offspring do remind yourself that you judge their behaviour because you probably feel unable to fulfil your parenting role successfully. Probably being afraid that you will not be able to ever change their behaviour. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR FEELINGS. Not your children. They are not responsible for your judgement. You are. Need to follow these two steps here. The first is to step love this voice inside you that judges -it has been judged in your past and just copies-. It is the child inside you that has now slipped into your unconscious and who was never accepted, loved, honoured. (Because as soon as judgement arises it stays in us for a moment and then we suppress it). Suppression leads to depression. Instead of suppressing it, next time love it. Embrace it. Allow it. This is a rather huge step. It will have an immediate impact not only inside you but also to your environment, instantly. So do persevere and learn this new technique. It will make you richer.And still have the patience like before to learn this new technique with joy.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ANGER. Not your children. You chose to be angry. Keeping the auto-pilot intact you chose to react the way your parents used to react on you whether it was a kind or an unkind response.The second thing you do in cases of anger is great fun. With your children find silly names to call each other when you are angry. Mine is potato and my daughter’s is plum. The famous fruit! Anger will then be deflated. Do allow yourself time to absorb and do this too.
These are examples of things we do not enjoy while parenting, our do nots and our inner judgement. Not because we mean to, but because our auto-pilot drives the plane of our soul rather than our new and elevated self.Those techniques mentioned above might sound naïve, but are very powerful once practised. (Do nots : “Let’s try this” and “I am good enough”, as for the responsibility of feelings: ”Love the one who judges” and “find silly names when anger strikes”). So if you liked them use them and the results will amaze you.