Biggest Myths of Parenting| 8.23.2023
In this episode, Kristen delves deep into the often-overlooked aspects of parenting, addressing the myth of unmet needs and emotional growth. She offers practical insights on empathy, fostering individuality, and nurturing your child's well-being.
- The truth behind the myth of unmet needs in parenting.
- The role of emotional growth and attunement in fostering healthy connections with your children.
- How to navigate the delicate balance between personal healing and effective parenting.
- The importance of creating a safe space for your child's curiosity and questioning.
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Welcome to the Close the Chapter podcast. I am Kristen Boice a licenced Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice pathways to healing counselling. Through conversations, education, strategies and shared stories, we will be closing the chapter on all the thoughts, feelings, people and circumstances that don't serve you anymore. And open the door to possibilities and the real you. You won't want to miss an episode, so be sure to subscribe.
Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. It's been a while since I've done a solo episode. And I thought it was time to have this conversation about the myth of parenting. As we think about becoming a parent, we have this idea of what parenting would look like maybe you played house as a child, maybe you watched movies where you saw people parenting, maybe based it on your own childhood of what parenting would look like. And we didn't really have a grasp that there are all these unmet needs of these children that they're relying on us to meet these needs. And the amount of energy presents self work growth that it's going to take to be a connective attuned, emotionally available, consistent parent, I had no idea. I mean, my mom was a therapist, she didn't really talk about unmet needs and how important it is, as a parent to work through your own unmet needs. And I discovered it pretty quickly after having my first child. So if you are a parent, a grandparent, you work with kids, you have a childhood of any kind, this episode is a really important one. And it kind of flowed through me on what to talk about. And if you want to grab the journal that I created to help you if you feel triggered if you feel activated. If you want to jot down ideas, you can get it for absolutely free at Kristen KRISTN D Boice. B Oh ice.com forward slash free resources, grab it, use it, because I'm going to be talking about all the things we did not know before becoming a parent. And what I find so significant is the moment I became pregnant, I took a class Dr. Becky Bailey's Conscious Discipline course. And it was the greatest blessing A friend of mine had suggested it. And oh, I was so glad I took it. Now does that mean I'm this kumbaya conscious parent? No. This means that that was a step in me trying to be more conscious and awake and aware of my own stuff that would potentially get in the way of parenting. Well, pretty immediately, all my stuff got activated, because I was aware that your stuff can get triggered by your kids. The first thing that we are not taught is that we really need to be mindful of our own triggers, reactions, body sensations, emotions, and explore deeper, why they're coming up, because they will. And if you they don't, then there's you might be dissociated from your body disconnected. Your protector parts, which are your defence mechanisms might be pretty high, you might be in survival mode. And those all need to be explored because those are trauma responses that can unconsciously get passed along to our children. And so this is a episode close to my heart because as a parent, I and as a therapist, I walk the walk, meaning I'm in therapy, I do my own work. And I think it's important for us to own that share that to tell people everything, but once we start normalising that it's okay to do your work, and do inner child work, explore childhood, not to blame it to get insight and understanding and why you're having reactions. And then clear them out have tools to cope with the hard things. And when you have kids, it's gonna be yes, so much joy. And a lot of hard because it's pulling up and mirroring back to you places that it's begging you to explore, begging you to heal begging, who who look at, and it happens fairly instantly. If you're awake. It happens soon.
And different ages can evoke different memories within you, your body can respond. So for example, my parents got divorced at age seven, I was very mindful of that age, actually age eight. And so I was mindful of that timeframe. And it's good to pay attention to those milestones because then you might have a certain reaction when your children are certain ages. So if you've had any trauma if you had any moobs if you had any abuse signal Pick and abuse at certain ages that can evoke different emotions and your body can respond when your child is a certain age because it's mirroring back that age to you. And maybe you didn't get to process certain things. And so the first thing that's important to note is children come in relying on you. Obviously, they are dependent on you for survival. There's what we call attachment. And so what attachment means is I am consistent, I meet your needs, whether they are soothing you giving you food, obviously, shelter, water, but you're consistently meeting the child's needs, and emotionally are regulated, you're attuned. So they have a Harvard study, if they call it the still face, when the baby is having an emotion or a need, they need met, they're looking to the mother and when the mother mirrors back that response, so the baby coos, the mother who's there is a sense of security within the child within the infant. And if that's done consistently, the child begins to feel secure in the world. If, for example, the mother isn't available, and the child is trying to get the mother's attention, the child becomes very distressed, and becomes very anxious. And that's called anxious attachment, where they're trying to anxiously get their needs met, but the mother isn't available or isn't consistent. Then we have kind of an avoidant attachment where the child will try and try and try and then they end up giving up. And there's almost like a shutdown response, a freeze response that happens in the body. And it's important for people to understand attachment when they become parents, because the infant when the baby is developing in the womb, attachment begins to form. So if there's any stress in the home, abuse, substance use, the parent is in an abusive relationship, the parents highly stressed that transfers to the foetus and if the child is born into a high stress environment, the child absorbs the stress in it travels, I mean, it's absorbed in so when we become parents, I don't think we think about how am I feeling mentally and emotionally? Am I taking care of myself emotionally? Am I working on my anxiety, my depression, we don't think about that. Maybe we do. But we're not thinking about how that transfers to the child.
We're thinking they're so little, they're not going to remember this. And here's the truth that I wish I knew the body holds memory. That's why the book by Dr. Basil Vander Kolk is very good. He's the first one to say the Body Keeps the Score and Peter Levine's work on somatic experiencing, and that's all about the body's memory, the body holds the memory. And it's important, we begin to understand that that our trauma work, our anxiety, our childhood, our past experiences, absolutely impacts you as a parent. And we want to believe we can compartmentalise that it's not true. Our relationship with our mother, our father, our siblings, absolutely impacts you, and how you show up today. 100%. And when people like I don't want to go back to my childhood, I'm like, I get it. And we have to process did it get acknowledged or processed as a child, which means emotions, body sensations, beliefs about yourself, shame you felt shame is I'm not enough. I'm defective, there's something wrong with you. We have to be looking at our own shame stories, as parents, that transcends into not only romantic relationships, but your parenting. And so this leads me to my biggest point on parenting that is not talked about, and I feel extremely passionate about and have to work on in my own life. Your children don't owe you anything. They are not here to meet your unmet needs from your own childhood, or your own development, Arrested Development. That is not their job. It is not their job. And so many times we project those unmet needs onto our child. And we want them to like us, of course, because that feels good. We want them to take care of us when we're older. This was a big myth I had to bust because how many people in certain cultures still have this? So I don't want to dismiss the cultural component to this at all. What I want to look at is have we projected that you will take care of me on to our children when it's not their job caretakers, we need to have a plan in place, or when we get older on how are we going to do that? I mean, have we set money aside? Do we have long term care insurance? Are we prepared? Do we have a will? Do we have power of attorney? Have we taken care of our business? Have we organised things so we make it easier on our children? Or have we projected that we want them to take care of us have I saved enough money for me to have somebody take care Have me just hoping my children, I can move in with my children. That's not fair to put that on them. They didn't sign up. They didn't say, Hey, this is another philosophical thing. We don't really know this. But I mean, we chose to bring them in. And we want them to take care of us, because we took care of them. They don't owe us anything. It's icing on the cake, if they have gratitude coming and flowing through them. That's because we're not putting unmet expectations on them. It's because it's coming from their heart centre. There's a big difference between obligation and doing it because I feel like I should, versus I really want to this is flowing from my heart. And yes, we want to give back. And I don't want to project that you have to take care of me because of my unmet needs. And know though this is tough, and this may stir up a lot. And all I want you to do is open your mindset, open your heart centre, expand your thinking, because that's all this is. There's no right, wrong, good, bad. We're just acknowledging there's other possibilities out there that we may never have considered. And when I heard this, and I sat with it, I thought, That's so true. They don't owe me anything. And yes, do I want to be taken care of when I get older? I sure do. So I need to prepare for that. I need to have a plan in place. And that's a hard one. Because we are scared, we're scared, because we don't want to go someplace where we're not going to be taken care of. That's coming from fear. And we need to acknowledge the fear, nurture it and tend to it. And we have to watch your expectations as parents, where are they coming from is that because you have an unmet need to feel popular? Is it because you have an unmet need to feel important and that you matter, so you want them to have all these friends, you want them to be the president of this or in this sport, or had this career because you didn't have it or you think that's the way to work value is through success, because they're going to be hustling and not internalising their inherent value. If you're not internalising your inherent value, they're not going to turn analyse it as a child. It's hard to say something I have to work on. I mean, we all have shame. Yeah. And it's something I've had to work on and will continue I have to work on for the rest of my life. It's not like oh, I didn't do that therapy. And then I have no shame. No, I have shame. And I'd try to nurture those younger parts of me. Because shame is often connected to younger parts.
We think it's about the here. And now it's really triggering something from way back when it's important to know that about shame. There's typically an older part online, that is activating your shame. And as a parent, believe me, I can be swimming in the shame, especially with two teens, I can be swimming with a shame. And all they're trying to do is individuate and separate. That is healthy. That's a developmental step. It's a healthy developmental step. And so when you recognise that they are not here to nurture you and your wounds, it to make you feel good. I'm telling you, it's liberation. And it's hard. And it's liberation, because they aren't here to parent you. And what I mean by that is they aren't here to comfort you. If that comes out as a byproduct, by the IOC, you do not need to take care of my needs, I can take care of my needs. That's not your job. I'm here to take care of your needs. And if I'm hurt by something, they said, I need to take a look at okay, what did that stir up in me? Now I can certainly say, could you say that in a different way that was pretty hurtful how you said that. And what I am showing and teaching is I can take responsibility for my own hurt and pain. Then they learn to own their words, their actions, their hurts their pains, and if they give me feedback, I can handle it. That is key. And I'm telling you, we have created this tell the truth in our family system, as sometimes it's hard. And they're not trying to be mean, they're not trying to be hurtful because they have such tender loving hearts. They are trying to communicate what is hurtful to them. And as a parent, I need to be healthy enough to take that feedback, explore that within myself and do the work. Because what did we want from our parents, we wanted our parents to do the work, take responsibility for your unmet needs. Maybe we wanted our parents to grow up maybe we want a more connection and emotional availability and recognition for that from our parents. We can't obviously get that from them. Now what we can do is work on inner child work to heal that. And as a parent, your child did not come in to be an extension of you. They came in as their own sovereign beings we do not own our children. They are not our possession. We are not controlling their thoughts, their mind is what they believe. Although we have a lot of power over that they have lots of clients that come in. And they act to kind of deprogram what they were taught because they weren't allowed to be curious in question anything, or they would have paid a price, which would have been disconnection from the parent, the family system. And if we do not allow our children to ask questions, to not agree with you, you're doing a disservice, you're stunting their growth. And they will pick unhealthy relationships, because they don't know themselves. They haven't had the opportunity to be curious and question things because it was too threatening to the family system. Healthy Families, allow their kids to ask questions, question everything, to not agree with you to have their own rumblings of their own thoughts, feelings and opinions that a how someone develops a healthy sense of self, a secure sense of self. And a growth mindset. Someone that doesn't isn't able to ask questions, and rumble through things and get curious and not really get out in the open what they believe or what they're afraid of, or what they disagree about, doesn't begin to grow. It's like stunting their growth. And so they'll have delayed sense of trusting themselves. Because the bump up against Well, that's wrong, bad. It's like all or nothing thinking black and white. Right? Wrong, Good, bad thinking. So then they begin to question and doubt themselves. So much self doubt comes from, oh, that's wrong, I shouldn't feel that way. And I'm like, well, let's just keep an open space. Let's bring all the parts to the table and let them question, let's let them have a voice. I say that to clients. I'm like, I know, it's scary to bring in all these parts that you feel like are wrong or bad, or weren't allowed to be questions, question, beliefs, thoughts, feelings. And I'm like, let's just create a safe place for all of those parts to come forward. There's protector parts that say, Ooh, that's not safe. So it may take a while for these parts to come forward. And in order to heal, those parts will eventually need to be seen, nurtured, offered empathy and compassion. So you can grow. And that's what you want to do for your children. Allow the safe place, which leads me to my next point, home parenting is listen more and talk less, especially with your teenagers. And I'm going to tell you, this is my biggest struggle, because I love questions. I love to swim in, in exploration, and sometimes I need to zip it, I oftentimes need to zip it because I actually want to fix it. And I can't, and they don't want that just rubs the connection. And I'm not even kidding. It's almost like such a knee jerk response for me that I got up. This is literally I'll be mid set, I got up. I'm doing it again. I'm trying to fix it. I'm giving advice. I'm doing it to get I'm catching myself in the moment. And boy is that repair work so important to catch yourself in the moment doing something you're trying to break. That can be multiple times a day I go up, I'm doing it again. Or they're like, What do you think I should say? Or here's what I was thinking of saying. And then I just give advice automatically. It's like a vomit out of the mouth. And I have to reel it back in pause, slow down. That's my anxiety, my inner child wanting to protect them from pain, rejection, shame, hurt and suffering. And here is the truth of the matter. You cannot protect your children when they're at school or when there are other places, especially teenagers from suffering. You just can't. You can protect them from hopefully keep them safe in ways as they get older. You're not going to escape this lifetime, without hurt rejection on some level feeling rejection on some level feeling some shame on some level. It's really important. They have safe places to process it have empathy and compassion for those parts for themselves. So you have to practice empathy and compassion at nauseam I mean it has to come from you like a tough flowing well, so then they can internalise that. And when they're in suffering and they're in pain, they can feel their feelings, they can process them and they can offer those parts empathy, tenderness and compassion. And I have to practice that my own life as a parent, I cannot save them or rescue them or protect them from other people's pain that will get projected onto them. So me jumping in to try to give them advice or telling them what might be helpful is me not tolerating that. I can't protect them from that. That's the honest truth. And it's so important you're doing your own work. So if I'm triggered by something, my body is telling me like they're auditioning for something. Because they're in theatre, they love singing, I did not do that growing up, that's the love that they have. And they put themselves out there. And I can feel my inner child who put myself out there and didn't make things. And I remember seeing them post that list with names at school. And my name was, the less that I would cry. I try not to cry at school, but I would feel sad. Looking back now I know that was for my highest good, because it led me to different paths that were my highest good, but at the time, it was hard. And so when my kids put themselves out there, and they're vulnerable, and they feel a sense of rejection, or they don't make something, what I need to do at that point is offer a safe place to process. And if they do make it the antastic, we can celebrate that if they don't hold the space, let them process the feelings, and offer empathy and just listen, that's what they need, they don't need a solution. They don't need all the reasons why it's not that bad, it's going to be okay. And this will lead them to when one door closes, the next one opens in what feels like rejection is God's protection and redirection and all those things that I love, not the time for it. It's just not the time, they need a process, the pain, the hurt, the sadness. And I have to remind myself of this, because I want to fix it. I want to fix it so badly. I think another important aspect of parenting is looking at you wanting to control them, you want to control maybe how they show up, control who they are, control what they believe. And that's because you're rooted in fear. You're not comfortable with them, learning and questioning and trying to understand themselves in their own thoughts and beliefs and allowing open space for exploration. And I think it's really important to come from a place of ownership around that and explore what is that about? Were you controlled as a child? Do you fear a lack of control? Do you feel like you are afraid of the child living in your basement for the rest of your life, their life? Like what is it that you're afraid of when you want to control. And I think the other piece of parenting that isn't talked about is it's really an inside out job. So your child is going to reflect and mirror back in you parts of you that haven't been healed. So if your child talks back at you, and it brings about anger, shame, fear, it's important, you're exploring the roots of that if it's intense for you, if you are afraid, something bad is going to happen. You've got to explore what lies underneath that fear. I wish we taught parents that the most important part of parenting is exploring your own unmet needs and childhood wounds and traumas and any kind of abuse you've had. Because that will transcend and parenting and block your ability to either connect in a healthy way with your child, you don't want to become a meshed with them, which means you're overly involved and you feel threatened if they separate or have their own thoughts from you. And explore your own family system learning about how did your family function? How did they talk to each other? How did your mom and dad talk to each other? How did your mom talk to you? How did your father talk to you? grandparents? Siblings? What role and I did a podcast very early on in the lineup of roles in childhood? Like were you the hero child? Were you the scapegoat? Were you the last child? What role did you play in the family system? And what role did your parents play in your grandparents? Because you can unconsciously recreate roles? Believe me, things that you would not think get recreated get recreated. And if we don't take a look at that, you will unconsciously recreate the same rules just looks like it's a different shape. The same beliefs the same way of interacting the same lack of emotional connection, because you can swing the pendulum from if you had a disconnected family to almost like an over a meshed family or you can recreate another disconnects family. What I've seen people in doing therapy or deep dive growth work is they literally change the relationship with their children. They stop trying to fix rescue and save. They allow the child to share how they feel. They ask about feelings they say How are you feeling? What was that like for you? What was the hardest part? What's your greatest fear? They start holding space and listening with their whole hearts. empathising, saying that makes so much sense how you feel. Thank you so much for sharing that. I'm here if you want to talk, man, that's hard. These are empathic statements. And if you're parenting from your inner child place, the child will not get their needs met point blank period. And that's why I recommend the book homecoming from Dr. John Bradshaw. He is no longer here. He has since passed, but he has written healing, the shame that binds you, and homecoming, and they are excellent books. One of my favourite parenting books is Parenting from the inside out by Dr. Dan Siegel. And it really invites you to take a look at your own stuff, because we want our children to be a certain way, show us all this respect. And if we're not allowing the children to have a voice, they're not going to respect you. And I'm not saying talk cuss you out or anything. But if you're not allowing them to share how they feel, or you're saying it's wrong or bad, they are not going to be able to connect and respect you. Respect comes from being seen, heard, understood, if you feel threatened by all that you feel insecure, they're going to disconnect from you. And man, when you have a lot of kids, there's a lot of needs that need to get met, it's super hard to meet a lot of kids needs. I mean, it's nearly impossible. I'm not going to meet all my kids needs, and I've got a couple of kids, I didn't know that, like I didn't realise course I knew kids need parents to pay attention to them and their needs, but not to the degree that I didn't realise the emotional needs of a child to the extent that they have them. And the extent of energy it takes for you to be present and attuned emotionally, which requires you to take a look at your own staff. And as they get older, and you're calling them up and you're texting them and your quote, unquote venting that is not the place to be venting, they're not a place for you to vent. If they ask for it fine. If they say hey, how are you doing? And you say, Hey, I'm just kind of venting here, you don't need to do anything. And do not be talking about your partner to your children, point blank period, do not be talking bad about your partner to your kids, they may bring something up about your partner, you can ask how they feel about it. And you can acknowledge, yeah, that that makes sense, I can understand that you might feel that way. It's not their job to be a mediator to be in between to make you feel better to align with you to collaborate with you validate what you're saying, that's for a therapist, a friend, someone else that's not in that marital dynamic. And so that's a really important thing that if we do not do our own healing work, it's going to be like a leaky boat leaking from you. You're going to be highly reactive, you're going to feel hurt a lot. You're going to feel like nobody cares, you don't matter. That's all inner child work that has to be dealt with. Because our children are here as their own sovereign being not to meet the parents needs is radical thesis I have and it will stunt their growth. So the moment you want to call or text them or you want to tell your kid about something that has to do with your partner or something else, just take a deep breath, get your journal out, read through it in and out watching your breath get curious about what's getting activate in you, if you have an explosive response. If you have a short response. Those were all invitations for deeper work all of them and guess what happens to me all the die, I have got to work on my own stuff. So when I want to give advice when I want to fix it that has all my inner child stuff screaming at me to be dealt with nurtured, looked at processed. That's my love EMDR eye movement, desensitisation reprocessing, and at pathways dealing counselling, our whole team is trained on it. Brain spotting is an offshoot of EMDR Somatic Experiencing guided meditations. You can do meditations too, if you need to work on regulating your nervous system so you don't project onto your kids your unmet needs, so you don't take everything personally that they say or do. If they don't text you back, you don't get super dysregulated and upset and you can start soothing those parts of yourself through guided meditations if you type in guided parent meditation, guided meditations for adult children or parents with adult children or five minute meditation on anxiety. Headspace is a great app to or calm or you can get them free on YouTube. And I recommend doing that three times a week at least if you need to get yourself more regulated. And be honest with yourself. Shame wants to say it's just not working. What's the point? or blame other people or deflect minimise rationalise, and it's time that we take ownership not to go into a shame spiral. So you can actually do something with that. Because I know you want to break generational cycles, I feel so passionate about the subject in, I'm walking the walk with you mess up every day, every day. And then I try to look within. And I'm not always perfect at all, it's a willingness to do the work. And when you pick a partner, it's so important that the partner has a willingness to grow, I'm telling you, and that if you didn't pick a partner like that, you're probably got some childhood stuff that needs to be explored not to go into shame, just to invite you to get with a good therapist do the work, it will pay off in so many ways. And we're not going to have leave it to beavers homes, that's not healthy. We're not in that era, the era is the health. And we know this through research is emotional availability and consistency and growing inside of yourself, have a growth mindset. Watch those defences. So when your kids give me feedback, you don't get defensive and shift blame, and don't give up. I'm gonna probably do a lot more podcasts on this topic, because it's a really important one. And it's not easy being a parent. And it's a gift. And it's a privilege, and it's an honour and at the same time, it's a deep dive into our own stuff. It's a mere, towards all of our stuff that needs to be healed. So clever in that way. And so our relationships, really all relationships, romantic ones in particular. So let me know what you think. Is there anything else that came up for you during this episode, and get some of the resources the books I mentioned, I highly recommend them. And if you have younger kids, Dr. Becky Bailey, easy to love Difficult to Discipline is excellent. I highly recommend that book. And don't give up. We're all in this together. We all are on the journey of evolving, healing and expanding ourselves. It's okay where you are right here right
now. We all wish we did this works sooner. From many of us, I think almost all of us as some way we're wish we would have found this work sooner. And just know you are meant to find it right here right now. And you can begin at this moment to own your own reactions intensity, and it's never too late. And I'm rooting for you. And I'm so proud of you for even just listening to the whole episode and now ready to take some action. So get the journal start journaling today, and can't wait to be with you next week.
Thank you so much for listening to the close the chapter podcast. My hope is that you took home some actionable steps, along with motivation, inspiration and hope for making sustainable change in your life. If you enjoy this episode, click the subscribe button to be sure to get the updated episodes every week and share with a friend or a family member. And for more information about how to get connected visit kristendboice.com. Thanks and have a great day.
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