Thoughts on Thursday Night Topic
Yesterday at the Family Education workshop, we were talking about being good enough and how we parent today based on how we were parented. We tend to overcompensate, in our own style of parenting, in areas we experienced a lack of or too much off when growing up.
So if our parents were under involved or unplugged we might become over involved. If our parents were overly controlling, we might become permissive, or decide that we’ve had enough with being controlled and now it's our turn to do the controlling. If there was a great deal of fighting and yelling we may become a yeller or not speak up at all. In turn, our kids in their attempt to find their place of love and belonging, need to somehow fit within that schema.
From the child's mind: If my parents need to be involved all the time, then I’m going to need to somehow supply that for them. I might in turn become very needy of their services, finding ways for them to feel they have to be busy with me. I’ll see which behaviors pull them in and those will be the behaviors I’ll adopt. If they want to be controlling, I may even become somewhat defiant so they feel they have something to push against. If they want to avoid conflict at all cost I'll create some drama so you can come in and resolve the problem. I'm finding my place by being the counterpart to what my parents are needing.
So when we talk about the usefulness of the behavior,(meaning the child will keep it up as long as the parent keeps it up) we are also fulfilling a core value, something close and dear to our hearts that defines us as a good enough parent, as a good enough child. This is not something we can easily toss to the curb, it’s not just some hobby we picked up. It’s a role we have played a long time.
How do we then get out of it? I think realizing that we are worthy of love and belonging, is a first step. Accepting that we do not have to be perfect. Learning and growing happens when we make mistakes. Letting go a little at a time of our old belief system, by accepting that we do not have to overcompensate and just be enough by meeting the needs of the situation. Allowing our kids to do the same. I don't need to be perfect and neither do they. I can take charge without being controlling, and give them a chance to also take charge in areas they are ready for. I can be involved and empathic but I can let them experience some difficulties, disappointments and frustration. Allow them to struggle a little, figure it out and help them with the necessary skills to do so. I can fail and get back up and they can see that and know it’s OK when it happens to them. Neither one of us is a failure, but we are humans and we will mess up at times. Knowing that we matter, not because of any role we play but just for being present.