Most of us who are respectfully parenting were not raised in the same way. All the unlearning and forming new habits can be SO hard. But you’re not alone.
Earlier on in my journey I felt like I had the awareness and understanding of what children deserve; yet I felt so lost in how to change and implement it! I felt almost like I was watching on and was hyper aware of every mistake I made without the power to be what I needed to be to transform into the parent I wanted.
I remember a key moment where I was overwhelmed and my kids were not listening to me and I was triggered back to feeling unheard. Instead of recognising that I yelled. I threatened them that we would go home if they couldn’t ‘just listen to me’.
Immediately, even as I was saying it I was yelling at myself internally “What are you doing?! Stop! This isn’t helping! You’re so rubbish at this! You are not a good mother.”
I struggle with depression (have for years if you’re new to the blog) and negative self talk. Saying these things to myself was not new to me. I had told myself these types of things over and over again and believed it.
But this time? In a powerful a-ha! moment, I realised I was shaming and blaming and belittling myself and treating myself the opposite to how I was aiming to treat my children. I was continuing the cycle on myself!
How could I meet my children with the empathy, respect, trust and love that they deserve when I wasn’t trying to treat myself with empathy, respect, trust and love? It was a really hard hitting realisation.
This in-between time was such an awful contrast. Especially when I felt stressed, I would get so down as I kept repeating patterns I did not want to! But beating myself up about it was adding to the problem.
It can be so hard to be something that we were never modelled. I honestly had moments I felt like I couldn’t fully be a respectful parent. But you can! I so promise you, you can.
Today I want to share with you what transformed my journey as a mama.
Everything changed once I saw the power in re-parenting yourself. The life-changing power in being who you needed when you were a child. We need to re-parent that inner child!
So how did I do this? How can we re-parent ourselves so we can be the best parent we can be for these amazing children we love?
Empathise with yourself
We all know the power of empathy for our children, but how well do we extend the same compassion to ourselves?
We need to at least try to be as kind to ourselves as we are to our children. For there is an inner child in us who needs it just as our own children do!
Empathising with children means validating their experience and emotions. Empathy can look like saying internally to yourself:
“I feel so frustrated! This doesn’t feel like it’s changing fast enough!”
“I feel triggered, I feel overwhelmed. I wish this didn’t feel so difficult.”
“I feel so tired. I don’t feel heard. This is intense.”
Empathising with ourselves doesn’t mean not holding ourselves to high standards and aiming for growth. The focus is still on improvement and what our children deserve! But it does mean recognising what we are doing is hard work and it matters!
Read that again, breaking the cycle of disrespectful parenting is important work and it really truly matters!
Validate your own emotions
I had created a habit where I belittled my own emotions and belittled the significance of the impact of authoritarian parenting. This isn’t healthy and it in a real twist it also really impacted my ability to parent how I wanted.
It’s so important to remind ourselves that it’s just as OK for us to feel and express the full spectrum of emotions as it is our children. Not just the emotions that we are comfortable with. It’s really common in our society to belittle children’s emotions or try to mute them.
Of course this doesn’t mean using those strong feelings against others, but feeling them is how we process them!
This is where you be gentle with yourself in your head and tell YOURSELF the things you should have heard as a child.
Validate your own emotions:
“It’s okay to find this hard.”
“You’re allowed to feel angry.”
“It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. This is a lot!”
“It’s okay to cry. It doesn’t make you weak or lesser. You’re allowed to feel hurt.”
It’s important to constantly remind yourself that you are doing well to unlearn the years of authoritarian parenting you were subjected to.
You’re powerful! You are parenting not from the ground up but from below ground up! You didn’t have the foundation you needed to build on. You’re building that yourself as well as for your children. This is so important.
Don’t punish yourself!
We parent without punishment and so too must we not punish ourselves!
Catch yourself if you’re shaming or guilting yourself for making mistakes.
I often say parenting isn’t about perfection, but intention. We as change makers strive for betterment and work daily to meet the needs of our children and parent them with respect and unconditional love.
It’s important not to punish yourself when you (inevitably!) don’t do this perfectly. It’s important for our kids too, to see us as humans, to hear us apologise, to witness us making mistakes and treating ourselves with kindness.
Care for yourself
Speaking of treating ourselves with kindness, self care is often spoken about in parenting but often I find in mainstream circles it’s used in ways that further disconnect. I may try to write about this at another time if people are interested.
However, my main points I hope to share is that self care should be as individual as we are. What we feel is helpful to us need not be shamed. For me sensory things really help as I’m someone who very much lives in my head and forgets about my physical form!
When we promote our own self care, it has the added benefit of modelling to our children how we should treat themselves. They too learn they are worth the time to care for themselves.
Importantly, self care doesn’t need to mean time away from your children. It can be as simple as removing guilt from activities you already do. It can also involve them! My kids enjoy doing natural face masks with me and watching fun stuff together on Youtube.
Surround yourself with support
Having other parents who are like-minded and supportive is SO important!
Surround yourself with people who understand and other parents who empower you in this process. Some may even be able to be that nurturing figure for us sometimes.
It’s important to not feel alone. It’s important to have people who value what you’re doing and value children as much as you do.
We aren’t meant to do this alone. Having a network that shares in how great this lifestyle is, is so powerful!
So from now on, let’s be on our own side! Let’s empathise with ourselves, let’s validate our own emotions and treat ourselves like we strive to treat our children. We too deserve the respect and love that we give our kids!
I so hope this is as helpful and transformative as it was for me!
Thank you for reading.