“Maybe you didn’t give him enough love?”
I have heard this. It ripped my heart in unbelievable ways… but it also started me on a journey of unpacking where did this come from?
Why would mothers even consider shaming one another this way? What are the social conditions that would even make us go that way in order to explain that our children might have their own sets of problems, and that they aren’t the clean slates popular culture deems them.
Because when children struggle, it is us Mothers, that hold the responsibility. Right?!
As much as we are drawn to make ourselves incredibly important in our children’s lives (and yes we truly are in some aspects) there is a need to make clear a key message here.
Mothers aren’t unicorns. They cannot fix it all for their children. And their children are not a continuation of their mothers selves. They do not arrive tabula rasas. They come with their sets of qualities, innate abilities, character and ways of being.
When we talk about developmental challenges, biologically predetermined problems that children can carry or experience, it is easy to blame the Mother, the parents, the parenting style, the approach, knowledge, patience…the quality of clothing their children wear (you name it! It’s there!).
Mothers in particular internalize the message that it is BECAUSE of them that their children struggle.
“Did I breastfeed her enough?”
“Did I co-sleep or why did I introduce solids that early?”
“Did I stress too much during pregnancy?”
“Did I really want a child and did my ambivalence affected him?”
“Was a there to soothe her that one time she fell in school and hurt her arm..?
Women go into incredible lengths to self-blame. And this is really dangerous.
Yes we do have responsibilities when it comes to our children. These are quite huge, relentless but they’re not endless and the balance needs to be restored…
Overly shaming ourselves will not help anyone here. It will not help you, mama, and it will not assist with your relationship with your child either. It is self compassion. It is attunement to your Self with care, tenderness, softness and understanding. Only this can propel you towards being the Mother you are. The unique mother to your unique child.
Yet, social norms operating around what it means to be a GOOD MOTHER, which I believe are at the core of self-blame, have never been more present.
How else do we explain this pandemic of internal insecurity? Mothers not trusting themselves, and taking on guilt and shame over their child’s struggles and diagnoses.
The market is oversaturated with expertise how to be a better mother, how to overcome your own parenting models, how to heal your own trauma because:
# “see, it’s your fault!” “Maybe you didn’t enough love?” ..
if only love was enough!
Resist, persist and embrace a self-compassionate approach to yourself, Mama!