How Can Parenting Help Us Grow?

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How Can Parenting Help Us Grow?

Being a parent has been my hardest work. When my kids were young, parenting was actually very easy for me. As long as I felt balanced, and had a loving relationship with them, all was good regardless of ups and downs. They could fight, have a hard day, be sad, etcetera, but as long as we ended up hugging it out I felt fantastic. I never really got triggered or was emotional over anything because of the intention I had to go with the flow. Of course I recall a few instances when that didn’t work, but it was never a daily occurrence.

Fast forward – now they are 13 and 15. They are moody, tired, and no longer affectionate very often. My son used to be so loving that he would always sit between my legs. Our big joke was that he would go back into the womb if he could – he liked to be that close. They still give me hugs daily, but I am guessing they do because they think they have to. No amount of preparation could have equipped me for this season. When other parents told me it was coming, I was in complete denial. I honestly thought, not my sweet kids that I am so connected to. Mornings are tough because they are always tired. They don’t want to talk at all and seem to be angry. I am a morning person which makes the long drive to their respective schools extremely uncomfortable for me. My monkeys show up questioning if I should try and talk to them OR if something is wrong.

Every day with them is a little different. Some days they are talkative and other days they just want solitude. There are some days when my daughter wants to sit close while we watch a movie and some days she wants to stay in her room.

This is where the work comes in for me. Being a motivator and influencer, I like everyone around me to be happy. If they are moody, I want to help change their state and get them to talk about how they feel. I believe we all have the capacity to change how we experience life and to find happiness even when the situation looks rough. I know this is almost impossible though with the hormonal and life changes they are experiencing. I want to share what I have learned on my journey, particularly with my kids, so they don’t make the same mistakes I made. I have tried to teach them these lessons regarding discipline, confidence, taking action versus procrastinating, etcetera, yet it doesn’t seem to have made a difference YET.

My daughter can make me feel invisible when she wants to. The coldness I feel from her triggers wounds I have tried to heal. These wounds include not feeling I am a good enough mom or guilt from my divorce. It makes me think I have blown it and that my divorce created all of this distance. Logically, I know it is not me, and that I need to be accepting of her moods, but sometimes my cravings for connection gets the best of me. I walk a fine line between expecting her to do her best and accepting her for who she is. She has her own anxiety and pushing her too hard can increase it. I am constantly balancing giving her affirmations with holding the line on our standards.

My son appears to have changed overnight. I am still adjusting to his new way of being. His top love languages with me had been quality time and affection. This made our relationship so easy until puberty came. The ease in which I parented him vanished in a heartbeat.

Don’t get me wrong…I still love being a mom and am so grateful but I have also realized I need to grow and stretch. I am too sensitive and have the habit of taking things personally. I have chosen to see this season as a gift. My goal is to remain openhearted regardless of how hurt or triggered I become. I have made the following commitments in doing this and decided to keep it simple:

  1. Be clear about standards and boundaries. Accept they will get mad and maybe even hate me for this. Accepting I don’t want to police them yet give them clear requirements for grades, chores, etc.
  2. Help them develop skills necessary to live an authentic life. Find other teachers to work with them through these if they won’t listen to me. Examples are to be able to communicate feelings, not allow fear to hold you back, be grateful through challenges.
  3. Increase my self-care and self-love. Prepare myself daily that I need to be accepting of how unique and different they are and not become emotionally triggered. Believe that God has a plan and remain hopeful one day we connect more deeply.
  4. Not engage in power struggles. Not chase my children’s attention or affection, but make sure they know I am here if they need me. Continue to provide life experiences that show them that contribution and gratitude help us experience more joy. Never withhold love even when they are not living up to the standards we have set.

As in all things I need to allow life to unfold rather than trying to force the connections. Regardless of the long-term outcome, I will be present for each and every moment, loving them unconditionally. Having a plan to deal with this season is so much better than just going with the motions. I am grateful that I have the tools to cope rather than allow it to bring me down.

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