So, if your parents didn’t meet your emotional needs as a child, how, then, are you supposed to get your emotional needs met as an adult? Especially now that you’re parenting your own children and don’t want to repeat the cycle done to you?
One of the many answers lies in the land of self-help where things like self-care, self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-esteem, self-nurturing, self-worth, and self-respect live. (We can also help ourselves by finding a purpose to commit our lives to, to give our existence a point of reference.)
Even if we seek help outside our self like from a friend, pastor, or therapist, we will still need to decide that we will participate in helping ourselves. No one can replace us in the equation of becoming our best us.
We have to want to improve as a person. (And of course we do.)
But I mean we have to really want a positive change. (And of course we do.)
But I mean we’ve got to be willing to put the work in. (And of course we are willing, but do we actually do it?)
So it’s in the taking of the actual steps in the actual direction of where we actually want to go that the rest of our future is made of.
And this can be frightening.
Some people will rant and rave about how they can’t help themselves and about how their life is so much more difficult than everyone else’s (thinking that this excuse gets them off the hook from real and solid effort).
But consider that perhaps it’s enough to simply know this about yourself. By continuing to go on and on about how nothing you do seems to be working or helping, try focusing on the positive more and not giving so much attention to the negative. Move out of victim mentality and into problem-solver mentality.
I’m not talking about denial or avoidance. I’m talking about being selective about where we put our attention and energy.
If we’re focused on the negative all the time, then we can’t expect anything positive to really grow the way we are hoping. Negativity breeds negativity. And so it goes with positivity. If we put our mind on what we want to have happen, then everything else follows in time.
So to tie helping ourselves into child-friendly parenting, if we are able to recognize that it’s not appropriate to make our children pay for what our parents did (or did not do) to/for us, then we are able to take the next step in our personal growth progress, however that looks for us. It doesn’t help anything to just say, “Oh, well” and continue doing what we know we shouldn’t.
Sometimes we can be too snippy with our children. Sometimes we can snap at them when it’s uncalled for. Sometimes we can overreact. Sometimes we can be too pre-occupied. Sometimes we could be more loving and gentle and understanding. Sometimes it’s the big things we need to change, and sometimes it’s the little things we need to change. It’s in our power to make the changes that need to happen. Even if we feel like we can’t help ourselves, we can. It takes conscious, deliberate effort. We do it for our children and for ourselves because it’s our responsibility to care well for our children as their parent and to care well for our self, too, as the steward of our self.
Let us remember that our children are innocent. It’s not their fault, what happened to us. It’s not okay to put on them what doesn’t belong on them. The tough part, which gets easier and easier over time the more we do it, is to determine what our children are responsible for and then to hold them accountable in developmentally-appropriate and child-friendly ways.
How do you help yourself when it comes to developing child-friendly parenting practices?