good mother myth, IFS, lived experiences, Mothering, therapy, Uncategorized

Self-led Parenting

Parenting is a tough gig. It’s something that stays forever, and the rewards come in rather unexpected ways, and with a huge delay sometimes.

Parenting can also bring to the surface unexplained amounts of shame, guilt, and self-doubt.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy has been a greatly helpful approach in healing layers of shame and self-criticism for people in general. IFS views the mind as a system of different parts or sub-personalities, and the goal is to relate to them with compassion and curiosity. This approach can help us understand our different parenting parts and learn to treat them with kindness. From a whole place of inner calm power, curiosity, compassion and creativity, or what IFS called the SELF (our true essence).

As parents, we often put immense pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Actually, in a sticky and indirect way, it is social norms and badly-functioning social structures that place a huge burden of shame onto parents, and mothers in particular.

I will not be addressing the social factors in this post because they need their separate attention yet they inevitably bring forward internalized legacies around what parenting should be. These then clash with our own ideas about the type of mothers we wanted to be.

What we can do internally though, at any moment during our parenting, is to offer ourselves self-compassion.

Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with the same kindness, care, and understanding that we would offer to a good friend. By acknowledging and challenging the societal pressures and expectations that contribute to these feelings, we can create a more compassionate and supportive culture for parents.

Using approaches like IFS and self-compassion, we can start to heal these feelings and learn to relate to ourselves with kindness and understanding. As feminists, we can also work to challenge and dismantle both internally and externally the societal pressures and expectations that contribute to shame, rage, oppression, and exploitation and create a more inclusive equitable, fair, meaningful and inclusive culture for mothers.

So that their inner work doesn’t have to involve the unearthing and carrying generational trauma EVERY TIME. And then we can start focusing on shifting from Reactive and Triggered to Self-led parents.

Yours in Self, and maternal rage and all,


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