What stands out most to you as you recall being a child, looking up at adult relationships?
Did you have two parents or grandparents who worked together through tough times?
How about your neighbours, family friends or your friend’s parents, were any a really good team?
Were you from a single parent family, where independence and struggle filled the years?
Did step parents join your family for a while and then leave without further contact?
Was compassion and grace obvious? Or was there bitterness and disappointment?
Was there respect, or insult?
Was there silent tolerance and unhappiness, or joy and companionship?
Rejection rather than acceptance?
Were there unresolved arguments?
Did family members gather around for support during the difficult trials of life?
Children absorb everything! Our own childhood effects so much of who we become and what behaviours we choose to adopt as we grow to form our own relationships. The behaviour modeled by the adults in a child’s life are powerful to say the least.
What will our children take away from their childhood? What understandings will they form from the behaviours modeled by us, and those we are in relationship with?
Will they come to believe Fathers are replaceable?
Will they believe the man should be the head of the household and given the respect to be so?
Will they think demanding and holding grudges is the way to make things change?
Will they be able to recognise a sincere apology and appreciate the value of such a thing?
Will they accept abuse as normality?
Will they view alcohol or drug use as a reward for surviving another tough week or even a tough day?
Will they understand and respect money, without letting it ruin them?
Will they cherish hard work and education?
Will they have the belief that they are valuable?
Will they have faith and hope that all will work out in the end?
These are tough questions…
They will grow into whom they determine themselves to be. Our mistakes may make them shudder at the thought and they may refuse to repeat them. On the other hand, they may follow closely in our footsteps.
They may make choices that take them so far from anything we came close to in our own lives, however the influences they received from their childhood will stay with them, deep in their hearts and memory.
Isn’t that worth thinking about? Isn’t that worth praying about?
None of us can claim to be perfect parents or to have perfect relationships, and that is why I believe it is so important for our children to have a concept of faith in the only perfect parent, our Heavenly Father.
I am not suggesting an upbringing with religiosity, with laws and punishment beaten into every conversation. Nor with judgement and focus on sin, which I feel is more damaging than encouraging. Those things they can learn and understand as they grow and begin to question for themselves.
However the precious unconditional Love from God is vital to our sense of self-worth. The concept deep within us that someone accepts us, forgives us, helps us, is watching out for us. Knowing we will never be rejected or forsaken, so long as we keep Him in our hearts. Having healthy, righteous behaviour modeled for us, that we can aspire to emulate in our own lives, is extremely beneficial. Plus the accountability that our actions effect the greater good of the world we have been invited to be part of.
Don’t our children deserve to have these elements of faith in their lives? If we are unable to always show up in the ways that are best for them, I am comforted and so grateful that God will never fail them. Open His word, learn about His Love, share it with your children and invite Him to fill all spaces where our humanity makes us fall short. May Gods Blessings be upon all the children!
The theme of my concerns over recent weeks/months/years, has circled my role as a Mum. I have this tremendous fear that my insecure reactions may have already damaged my children’s sense of self worth. How it is especially hard trying to raise them to be healthy, happy and secure, while I am still trying to get myself there. I get angry at myself for falling short, giving them less than they deserve. Tears well up as I confess this, it is extremely difficult to share, so please bear with me. I will try to allow my vulnerability and shame to create something worthwhile here…
I lean heavily into my faith, repeating the mantra, “Don’t Stress, Do your Best, God will take care of the Rest and You’ll be Blessed”. I trust in this, yet I admit my trust wavers, especially when it comes to me doing my best, am I really? While He develops my faith, I pursue healing… I must for their sake and my own.
My children are older now (9 & 16), they are dealing with emotional issues, more than behavioural ones. They are extremely well behaved, and try their best to be so. Recently I watched my reactions as a parent to my children even more closely; I saw how often my desire to teach them sounded as if they were ‘less than’. How my attempts to help them understand happiness made them confused and sad. How my reaction to their unhappiness made them self-conscious and withdrawn.
I broke down…
“How is this still happening?” I thought to myself. After over 6 years of therapy and 13 years of developing faith, I still have not figured out how to stop the cycle of damage and self-loathing which has infected its way throughout my family tree.
I wrote and wrote, I poured out my confessions on every scrap of paper I could lay my hand to. I let the tears fall as I held myself accountable for their growing hearts, which need to be nurtured by a Mum that loves in healing ways, not toxic ones. Yet I had no idea why my love was so poisoned.
Then as usual I withdrew again…. into distractions and a couple of glasses of red.
I had a 2.5 hour session with my therapist the other week, and we spent time figuring out the core of my parenting crisis. It was supposed to be the usual hour, but he knew I needed more time and gave it willingly, bless him.
After many tears shed and much rambling, probably mostly incoherent, we came to a few realisations. Firstly, that I have a list of responsibilities in the forefront of my mind. Fighting for the top spot of that list is my desire to make my children happy, along with being an obedient, self aware, child of God, and a supportive, capable and loving wife etc.
We narrowed in on my role as a Mum, to find out what causes me to react in unhealthy ways rather than healthy ones (besides the general thesis that my reactions spring from a platform of shame and insecurity). We needed to discover the more specific catalyst.
Eventually this catalyst revealed itself to be a connection between being happy and being right. I grew up believing being ‘right’ was the be all and end all. I spent so many early years unhappy for being so very far from ‘right’, believing many lies were truth, that somewhere along the way of realising this I have attached unhappiness with being wrong.
As we dug a little deeper we found that whenever I see a need to correct my children’s behaviour or teach them how to deal with something new, my fear of their unhappiness attaches itself to them being human (not perfect) and my panic causes an emotional reaction. This emotional reaction is more powerful than my words aimed to teach, more powerful than my good intentions. My way of defending against the fear is what shows on my face as I react. My anger at myself for believing those early lies is what shines out, and all they must see is an angry, scared Mum. No wonder it doesn’t work out well. 😦
We also figured out that I seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle, the place of stability that helps gauge which situations are worth getting upset about and which ones can be met with a neutral, unemotional response. In my desperate mission to stop my girls ending up like me, I have been allowing my fear to unconsciously correct their emotions and even their opinions. I cant express in words how ashamed I am. Forgive me Father, Forgive me Girls!
And so now that I have become aware of this in more detail, I must learn to give supportive freedom for them to experience their own emotions and opinions in each situation and not link them to being right or wrong, happy or sad, damaged or healed. Just to simply accept them, for all that they are. The Lord will teach them in life what I cannot, I need to change my focus to be less about teaching them how to not be like I was/am, and more on helping them be who they are. Using Affection, Approval and Acceptance to help them believe they are good enough, that they belong and are loved.
My psych has given me some tips to practice, in order to attempt to undo some of these patterns.
- Sitting face-to-face with them wordlessly, non-judgmentally, soothing the internal dialogue inside me, which drives me to teach them to control and avoid imagined catastrophes.
- Sit and listen without responding so much. (Oh my, that is hard for me at anytime)
- Try not to challenge any opinion they have unless 99% sure that it is incorrect.
- Try not to challenge any emotions they have, merely SHARE the experience with them.
- Try not to let their emotions change my emotions reactively. Wait until I can think neutrally before making decisions. This will teach what my words could not, that emotional manipulation is unfair and unhealthy.
- Before I respond to anything, ask myself this question, “Do I feel good enough or defensive?”, and wait until I feel good enough before I respond.
- Use soft eyes and a low pitch when correcting and teaching.
- Be aware of my fearful reactions during meditation, run through these tips from a calm relaxed place and allow the fear to pass by without being the catalyst for reaction.
This list is not going to be easy for me to apply, but I have been trying and had a few successes. I hope that someone else out there can gain something useful from this post. So that other children don’t have to stay in unhealthy cycles. I ask for your prayers, pray that this is finally the breakthrough I have been waiting years for and that God will reach down His hand and help me walk these new strategies out in my life. That His love will flow through to fulfill my girls when my love is tainted with fear. That my inner enemies will not win out, but will end up in the pit far away from my me and my family. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I pray. Amen!
This is one of the most informative and necessary posts I have ever come across, and is referred to in my recent post Healing the Insecurity. Please check it out! Blessings to you!
“…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph.1:6)
The emotional soil our roots are planted in has a bearing on our entire lives. God designed that we should receive love, care and protection in the family. As a child is born into a family it is totally defenseless, and dependable on the family that surrounds it. It is during the formative years of its life that it will receive its identity message. A child brought up in a loving atmosphere and home will face future relationships with security and confidence. Our family loved us and valued us; therefore we must be people of worth.
Psychologists confirm this. They tell us there are three parental attitudes that are absolutely necessary for a sense of security and to develop a wholesome personality. These are acceptance, affection and approval…
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While I’m taking some time to work on my novel I thought I would share some of my early posts with my new readers. Hope you enjoy them.
“Come Back!” I yelled through the tears streaming down my face as I ran up the street after him. My heart was twisted in turmoil, my head full of confusion and raging emotion. I was a child in an adult’s body and he was my boyfriend. We hadn’t been going out very long, a few months maybe, but once I had allowed him into my life physically and emotionally I began clinging on for dear life, pinning all my feelings on him. If he told me he ‘loved me and couldn’t live without me’, I was over the moon, if he told me to ‘get lost and leave him alone’, I was on the floor in a heap, devastated by his rejection.
This time he was going out with his friends for the night, but I had spent the day looking forward to spending the night with him. I had…
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