Parenting well when you haven’t been well parented?
• Manage your own “baggage” ensuring it doesn’t spill over and pollute your children’s lives. This is usually an unconscious process so waking up to our baggage is a much needed step in our toolbox of care.
• Reduce the amount of chronic unpredictable toxic stress in your children’s life. This one does not mean shielding from resilience-building moments of adversity that we constantly try to protect our kids from. So differentiate between these and use those tough moments as opportunities for learning while safe.
• Look into your children’s eyes. I see you! You matter! When your child is going through something challenging stop what you are doing and orient yourself to look into their eyes with soft, loving gaze. This is a biologically powerful soothing and presence-giving act that grounds both of you into the here and now.
• Apologize. If you grew up in a family where apology was never the case, you probably realize even more so the power of repair. We fuck up all the time as parents! What we need to do Always – is to say a genuine sorry and model that after a failure there is a constant reminder and a chance for a new start.
• Validate all emotions. Children need to know that all emotions are valid and normal. Don’t brush off or sugarcoat. Emotions are exactly what they are and no shame needs to be introduced around them. It’s what we do with them that matters.
• Give a name to difficult emotions. “Name it to tame it!”
• Hug. At least for 20 seconds. Every opportunity you get and of course depending on your children’s age and their consent. All those happy hormones infuse us with warmth, validation and love.
• Ensure for safe and open conversations. So that you don’t only talk when there is trouble but provide an ever going open table to bring anything on. This is a secure learning ground for our kids that it is all workable! Figure-out-able!
• Reframe stories of intergenerational trauma. Once you understand your adversity and have worked with it, you can tell a larger narrative that encompasses the story of YOU, shameless and unapologetic. Embracing our adversity into our own story is the biggest lesson for us as humans that serves as a model and mentorship to our children. If we are ok with ourselves they know that they can be too.
• Teach mindfulness and presence. Even if it’s a few moments a day or at bedtime, a few seconds of sitting with All of what’s happening internally, I see this as the biggest key to wellness.
Overall, accepting our humanity and approaching parenting as our own opportunity to build courage and inner strength. This will enavitably resonate into our parenting.
Empowered with self-awareness, boundless in self-belief, liberated in self-expression, each free to BE within the family!