Carve out your parenting path: Letting go of parenting ghosts
First time you become a parent it is inevitable to take a closer look at your childhood.
If you never went through this exercise, it is something I truly recommend. And if you can do it together with your partner, even better. You will learn immensely about yourself as an individual as well as a parent. With this knowledge present, you can consciously make different and better decisions when it comes to your parenting style. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to align your parenting values with the ones of your partner and become a stronger and more congruent unit.
My parents got separated when I was 9 years old, and we moved in with my grandmother. For the following couple of years, I have no recollection of my dad being present in my life. What I remember about living with my dad is him arriving late from work, sitting on the couch with my sister and me, his big eyes opening whenever my sister or I misbehaved. I believe a bunch of other memories were somehow planted by photos and stories I heard.
On the other hand, I hold plenty of memories with my mom. The good and the bad. I remember her shouts and slaps when my sister and I argued. The same way I remember her smiling and hugging us no matter how tired she was. Despite my mom not being very affectionate, she always showed us her love through little gestures and practicalities. She always made sure to pack us snacks on school days, and to help us with homework and special projects. She was always the first one to encourage us to be independent, creative and follow our hearts.
When I told her I wanted to be a psychologist, she never mentioned how tough the job market would be nor she questioned my passion. She just asked me "Is that what you really want to do?". Being passionate about her job, she had no trouble understanding my own passion and respect it. When I moved across the world or when I lived 6 years away from home, she never once told me to come back. It is true that she never told me she missed me, she would only tell me from time to time "It matters to me that you are happy. And as long as you are happy, I am happy too".
As I mentioned before, she was both mom and dad. For that I am incredibly grateful! Even more since I became a mom, as I can relate better with the challenges of being a single parent. Truthfully, I kind of idolized her for the amazing mom she is.
It was inevitable to dive deep into my relationship with my mother when I first became a mom. There are so many parts of her that I see in myself, parts which I am proud of. However, there is also a side of me that is completely different, especially in certain aspects of our parenting style.
At the beginning I struggled with this inner conflict. My gratitude was huge and every step I took in a different direction, it felt as if I were not honoring her as the wonderful mother she has been throughout my life.
Until a particular situation where I felt our differences clashing. In that moment, a mix of disappointment and relief took over and all the parenting ghosts faded away. I knew I had to
carve out my own path, make my own mistakes and learn from them.
There is no reason to fear what you will uncover about your childhood and your parents' behaviors and choices. Only by consciously knowing and understanding this important part of your life, you will be able to recognize certain attitudes and reactions you have with your children. Only by accepting what is different you can let go of what no longer serves you and leave your ghosts in the past where they belong.
From a place of love, empathy, and non-judgement, you can get rid of old patterns and start building new ways of connecting deeply and mindfully with your kids.
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