“Is s/he a good baby?” How many times are we asked this question, as new parents? How many times do we cringe and maybe feel slightly (or significantly) inadequate?
I saw a headline this week that played on the dynamic of kids vs. parents, something I don’t even care to repeat as it was click bait for the masses ready to be outraged at the permissiveness of today’s parents, and the entitlement of today’s kids. I posted on FB my first response here.
What I really wanted to say was this:
Almost every day when I have to take my 3yo to nursery he will resist as I attempt to get him out the door, dropping to the floor or attempting to run off down the street. If I try to stop him, he may try to scratch my face, hit me, or pull my hair. He will stiffen his body and try to slide out of my arms.
Is he a “bad” kid? Some might say so. Some would certainly treat him as such.
But you know what? He’s not a “bad” kid. He is warm, loving, and incredibly intelligent. He actually loves nursery. He has a learning disability and sensory issues. He struggles with transition and hurrying makes him feel panicked. He has a need that needs to be met. As a parent, I need to learn how to meet that need so that life can flow for him and for me, and his capacity to love remains intact.
When I was an infant, I wasn’t a good baby. I was inconvenient. Troublesome. When I was born, my mother was given the drugs too late (in the hospital where I was born every woman was given drugs, my mother just hadn’t realised she was in labour). I was alert, not sleeping like the other babies in the hospital nursery. The nurses didn’t know what to do with me as I refused to settle and they sent me back to my mother on the ward. I note this is very likely one part of why my mother was able to breastfeed me successfully in a time when it wasn’t common.
Later on, I wasn’t a “good” child. I was loving, protective of my siblings, a crusader against perceived injustice. I rebelled against attempts to control me and took in the message that I was “bad” because I refused to comply. I internalised the messages “bad” to a degree that it took me well into my 20’s recover. I tried very hard to be good, but I never really felt I was (it took me a longer time to realise that not being good was a really good thing!).
Eventually, I had my own children. I would find the words I had heard from my own childhood coming out of my mouth at unexpected, high-intensity moments. I would genuinely feel at times that my toddlers were out to get me.
Maybe you’ve experienced this too? It wasn’t intentional or rational, but I believe it is very common. The feeling I was experiencing was deep programming that traced back through generations of my family. I had switched sides in the dynamic, but the dynamic was the same, one that had been reinforced over generations.
My children became my teachers. Four children on and I no longer take my kids words or behaviours personally, for the most part. I have learned that my children’s words and actions nearly always express a need of some sort, one that may take some ingenuity to uncover. That’s not to say I am always patient or completely understanding! I’m not. I’m human. But that doesn’t mean the need isn’t there, or that I can’t aim to do better next time. I absolutely can.
We can all do better than the us vs. them dynamic. Us (parents) vs. them (kids) allies us with the external order of the patriarchy where “good” parents are tasked with creating “good babies” who internalise that order.
In reality, our kids are our best allies just as we are theirs. Our kids aren’t out to get us (our parents likely weren’t either, they were very likely doing the best they knew and were able to at the time).
We can do things differently. We can see our children as partners in healing the wounded patterns of the past. As their nurturers and protectors, we are the gatekeepers of the future.
Reading the news these days, there is no doubt we need a new world order. Our kids need us more than ever to navigate the world we currently inhabit in ways that allow them to grow with spirit intact, and the fullest capacity to love and to connect. These are the qualities that will change the future.
I’ve spent many years working on my own story and rewriting my own internalised patterns. If you feel fragmented, broken by the patterns you internalised through your own childhood, I want you to know that this healing work can be done. I know because I’ve done it. It’s a process. It requires ongoing commitment to ourselves and our kids. But we can absolutely do this.
For me, many years ago, counselling was part of it. Counselling gave me understanding and some tools to cope (and if you’re looking for help of this sort, I can recommend the work of Tania Davies Therapy), but I still felt broken. It was only when I experienced Soul Retrieval and working energetically to shift the patterns that I came to real peace with my past and felt my full capacity to love was restored. (This is the work I now share with others.)
More recently, working with the Desire Map and the Heart Centering Practice has surprised me at how it’s changed my inner landscape. I’ll be sharing this practice in our FB group this week, you can join us here.
Our virtual Women’s Circle is on this week at 9.30pm UK time. Come join us in the group.