My daughter graduates from high school in six weeks.
Even as I type this sentence, I find myself pausing to let that sink in fully.
Conflicted feelings flood my awareness: sadness, delight, loss, excitement, fear, and deep, deep love. It’s a complicated moment for me.
Like many parents, I found myself reliving my own childhood memories as she grew up.
I wanted to change the shame, blame, and domination-based parenting practices that I found painful as a child so that she didn’t have to suffer in those ways, and I also wanted to bring forward the creative, empathic, and relational practices that nurtured my growth and development. I found myself wanting to protect her from pain while helping her connect with her strength and resilience to face life on its terms.
Whenever I felt lost, I’d ground myself in my deep belief that my daughter’s behavior was a direct reflection of her met and unmet needs at various developmental stages interacting with and activating my conscious and unconscious triggers as a parent.
Essentially, I always have two places to look when I want something to change: her (met and unmet) needs and my (un/conscious) triggers.
What I’ve Learned
I was not a perfect parent by any means, but I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons about the deep shifts needed to transform domination-based parenting into authoritative, life-affirming parenting that honors our children’s dignity and souls.
As I healed my own pain, as I became more conscious of my own triggers, as I resourced myself more as a parent, I noticed how my daughter’s behaviors and reactions to me also changed.
I learned how to let go of controlling and micromanaging all outcomes and to relax into loving her on her own terms. I learned how boundary problems “out there” were often a reflection of boundary problems “in here” and how to navigate that more effectively.
And, I realized that as I was parenting my daughter I was also being given an opportunity to parent my own inner children. Sometimes, I realized, I was trying to fix something “out there” in my child that actually needed to be embraced and healed inside of myself first.
Looking for guidance and support to shift your own parenting paradigm? Consider taking my Relational Parenting Masterclass, a self-paced online course that offers an opportunity to rethink, reinvigorate, and refine your approach to parenting.
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Not since Judith Lewis Hermann’s Trauma and Recovery, have I read something so absolutely clear eyed and nearly scientific in it’s explanation of a parent’s effect on thier child. Just as the aforementioned book destigmatized trauma, explaining the normal sequelae that then get mislabeled as diagnosis, so too do you explain what will show up in children without responsible empathic parenting. Brief as it is, it says it all. Thank you Yvette, Leah!