My mom used to give me and my sister a slap now and then or punishing us by taking away something we liked. Am I traumatized because of her past actions? No, I can't say that I am. Surely, I felt loved and cared for despite her punishments. She is a wonderful mom! She was mom and dad at the same time, and we still have a close relationship.
When I became a mom the first time around, I was curious to find out what mom would I be. So, it was only natural that I started questioning not only what I did not know, but also what was already there and passed through my mom and the past generations to me.
Both from my childhood and from the societal parenting styles I had been exposed to so far, the traditional parenting was all I did know. Authoritarianism, order, discipline, control, what would reflect into punishments, the occasional slap, yelling, conflict, chaos.
Motherhood was already novelty to me and this whole parenting style and supposed strategies were making me feel anxious and uncomfortable. There was something off in the way I was trying to parent based on this approach and the mom I wanted to be.
Still, I kept on going convinced I was doing the best I could. Until my boy turned two years old (the terrible twos!) and our relationship became even more challenging. He would throw huge tantrums - many a day! - and after the 10th tantrum my despair and frustration were pouring everywhere in the shape of shouts and threats.
This whole spectacle used to end with my son even more upset or crying, and me feeling guilty and ashamed and complaining to my husband about the horrible parents we were.
Right here was the wake-up call I so desperately needed! I knew I was not a bad mom, I knew I loved my son and how much I wanted to build a healthy and open relationship with him, to connect with him on a deeper level. The huge obstacle was my lack of authenticity with myself and with my son as well as the fact that my husband and I were not completely aligned on our parenting values.
I had already researched and read a few articles and books on conscious parenting. At this point, I started attending workshops and following some authors and coaches around this theme. My husband and I had lengthy conversations about what parenting meant for each of us, what we thought we were doing right and what we felt we were doing wrong.
We were able to adapt some of our reactions and behaviors based on what we had found out about ourselves and about being a mindful parent. It worked for a while until we were put again to the test and once more, we felt we were failing. Despite our frustration, we recognized that we were in need for guidance, and we started a Mindful Parenting Program.
There is so much I could tell you about the program and how much we have (re)learned so far, about ourselves and about our son. It is an experience I truly recommend! It does not have to be this exact program; it can even be something else entirely. What matters the most is that it makes sense to you and the parent you want to be - a question that only you can answer.
So, ask yourself: How do I want to be as a parent to my children? What kind of relationship do I want to build with my child? How is the depth of connection I want to have with my child? Do I want my children to obey me or to collaborate with me? Do I want my children to be afraid of me or to respect me as an equal?
Parenting is not easy, though it does not mean it has to be hard. Parenting is as much as about your children as it is about you as a parent.
Since the moment my husband and I aligned our parenting values, which included becoming more mindful, honest, and empathic, any kind of punishment or threats had no longer place in our family dynamics.
Yes, there are still tantrums and conflicts to be solved. After all he is a child, and we are imperfect parents. We are learning with each other along the way. But everything becomes easier - parenting included - when we come from a place of love, respect, empathy, and ease.