By Julie Daley
What’s Your Parenting Story?
Parenting can be a highly charged topic for most people, even for those of us who’ve graduated from the Process. After doing the Process, we are very aware of the patterns we adopted from our parents and caregivers. While we have disconnected from many of them, we can still find ourselves playing out some of them.
I was curious what story was at the root of our tendency as parents to second-guess and berate ourselves as parents. I decided to ask some of the Hoffman staff the following questions and received some insightful answers.
If you are a parent: What’s a story you tell yourself about parenting that makes parenting hard and makes you feel terrible about yourself?
If you are not a parent: What story do you think parents tell themselves about parenting that makes it so hard and makes them feel so badly about themselves?
Responses From Parents:
“I was not emotionally available to my child. I was focused on my own unhappiness and on how I could try to change her father.”
“If I’m not a calm, peaceful mama all the time then I criticize myself and feel like I will never get there.”
“My partner knows more than I do; I must defer to her in day-to-day parenting and in our parenting philosophies. The story is that I am not good at it and I must defer.”
“There’s a strong social expectation that parents have to follow the advice of so-called experts and when we can’t, or try and are unsuccessful because it doesn’t work, we tend to beat up themselves and feel like we’ve failed. We feel bad and second guess ourselves. It makes parenting that much harder. I remember reading parenting magazines in the doctor’s waiting room and thinking, ‘I can never do this.’”
More Thoughts From Parents:
“There’s something missing in me because I didn’t have a healthy mother/daughter relationship growing up.”
“I’m living in perpetual fear of being my own parents; showing up for my own kids like mom and dad did for me.”
“I often hear myself say, ‘Oh my god. I sound like my mother. And I promised myself I would never repeat her parenting behaviors.’ Or ‘Damn. This is why I shouldn’t have had kids. I knew I would mess them up. I knew I didn’t have what it takes. I am too damaged from my own childhood.’”
Responses From Non-Parents:
“They [parents] have to deny how they feel – they put on a front to protect their child and the child can see and feel it anyway. Parents get to feel. It doesn’t help anyone in the family to not show their true feelings.”
“There are expectations on them that they should be perfect. When you love someone like your child so much, hurting them hugely magnifies the pain – the weight is like a shame download of self-criticism.”
“Being a parent requires one to perfectly protect and provide children with a loving and kind approach.”
Remember, these are stories we tell ourselves. They reverberate in our heads, consciously or unconsciously. Our belief in them doesn’t make them true. By writing them out and questioning their validity, like we’ve done here, we can loosen their hold on us. We can release the fear, shame and judgment, and use our Hoffman tools to move forward as more loving and present parents. Hoffman tools help you foster self-love and self-compassion and can reap beautiful rewards.
Return to Your Own Child Within
Children aren’t little adults – they’re children. They are dawdling, dancing, looking-up-at-the-trees-and-sky young beings. I remember that they are immersed in wonder and awe. They live in their “real” world and aren’t yet aware of the “real” world we live in as adults.
Much of what we do at the Process is to help heal the child within. One of the most helpful things you can do as a parent is to bring yourself back to the child perspective. Feel the joyous child that’s always been inside of you.
Parenting with Mindfulness
We are currently hosting a two-part teleclass series, “Parenting with Mindfulness.” The first session of this two-part series focuses on awareness and identifying patterns and challenges that sabotage your intentions as a parent, and taking power from the undermining voice of your Dark Side. In session two, we explore how you can take care of your own needs with self-love and compassion so that you can meet the challenges of parenting as a resilient adult.
If you’d like to join us for the second session, please register here.
If the class is over, contact us to purchase a playback.
Join the Conversation
We invite you to join this conversation by sharing your parenting comments below. Our Hoffman community is a source of support and shared understanding. Watch for a follow-up post that goes deeper into where these stories come from.