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  • Michaela Patel


How do you know you are doing a good job of parenting?

We are our children's VISUAL, LIVE EXAMPLE, based on which they form their beliefs about themselves and the world around them. Playing the leading role in our family puppet show, we are the trend setters for how will our children act and react, how will they think and treat others - including ourselves.

So is what you tell your child important?

Not as important as how you ACT in their presence. In other words, parenting isn't so much about what you preach, but what you DELIVER.

Are we the parents who 'walk the talk'? We like to think so...

We like to reiterate what is right, we want them to play the ball of the family game. Yet we often play by an entirely different set of rules! Our children can see that, and they ( like us ) end up saying one thing and do another.

How frustrated do you get when your child tries to deceive you, or when they don't deliver what they’ve promised? Where does their behaviour come from? 'We didn't teach them to lie!' we scream in dispair.

No. But we showed them that our words mean nothing...

Yes, we've all been there as parents. We said we do something but our rules got bent last minute to suit the occasion because 'we were tired', 'they were tired', 'we were fed up', 'others were looking annoyed’, bla bla bla...

NO. Coaching our children to adulthood, teaching them what's right and wrong, isn't an easy ride but more a rollercoaster of various emotions. Theirs and our own. Often times entangled with what seems like an emotional knot of everyone around, and our children are the ones pulling the strings.

So how has this happened that 'they became so clever'?

Every time what we said and done didn’t quite add up, their AUTHENTIC SELF got squashed under the monster of their fast growing, MANIPULATIVE SELF who thrives on winning. 'When has my child become so manipulative to get what s/he wants?’ we wonder.

Let me ask you: When have you become so manipulative to get them do what YOU want?

'My little one is right bossy pants wanting to control everything.' we say with a hint of pride in our voice. Twelve years later we are forced to swallow our pride when our children slam the door in our face whilst demanding things. Their tantrums aren't funny anymore, and their need to tell us how we 'should be behaving' towards them fills us with disappointent and sadness. By then, their need to control us by screaming ultimatums, threatening withdrawing their affection should we not comply with their demands, becomes a sickening realisation in the pit of our fear srivelled stomach: our own parenting skills became their weapon of choice against us.

Can we blame them?

Our children copy our rights. They learn from us first hand HOW to get what they want. And if we show them that control, manipulation, demands, and inauthenticity is how to get it, we cannot be angry with them when they do! We use the win-lose scenario to shape our relationship with them, yet we are shocked by their ego-driven attitude towards us. 'Where is the love gone from their relating? Where is their understanding and validation of how I feel?' we cry.

'Is this what I get back for how I brought you up!?'

Yes you do... Unfortunately and regrettably.

REFLECTING back on our relating to our children when then they were small, where was our love and understanding gone when they wanted to sit down because they were tired? 'Oh you can't be tired!'

Where has our VALIDATION of how they felt falling down or losing their favorite toy disappeared? 'Oh it is NOTHING. Get over it!', or 'You should be more careful next time.'

We taught them CONDITIONAL love by means of giving rewards for things WE wanted them to do. Whenever they didn't comply we punished them by withdrawing our bribe. And with it our love. Every time we managed to manipulate them into what we needed, we crushed their personal boundaries showing total disrespect and disregard for their feelings. WE HURT THEM! And now they are hurting us back the way we taught them to.

It hurts twice as much to realise that our own unawareness and unkind attitude towards them, is making them act in unaware and unkind ways towards us...

If we are present enough to our children, we can learn a great deal about ourselves from how they relate to us. Punishing them for what we have taught them is hypocrisy. The same hypocrisy with which our parents punished us for things they did themselves.

It is not only control and manipulation, however, we set the trend in our family tree for generations ahead. You may have witnessed few examples below, which has shaped how you perceive yourself today:

Your parents repeatedly putting themselves down for their past failures.

They modelled that failure is bad and that it needs to be punished.

As supposed to viewing it as a lesson which serves our further growth, we grow up being scared to make mistakes and when we do make them, we find it hard to forgive ourselves,

ending up REJECTING ourselves. We feel like powerless victims of life's circumstances, denying ourselves further growth.

Your parents caring much about how they look like in front of others.

They modelled that our worth lies in how we present ourselves in public. That if we are NOT clean, well dressed, well behaved, or well spoken, we are WORTHLESS.

We grew up with a strong critical voice in our mind, relentlessly comparing ourselves with others, chasing perfection. And whenever we fell short we rejected ourselves.

Your parents working hard (even whilst ill) without setting time aside to rest and to do things they truly enjoy.

They modelled lack of self-care, and that self-sacrifice is OK.

We grow up feel guity to rest and do things we enjoy, teaching our children that life is hard and that they too have to live to work to feel good about themselves. Our worth is very much tied to our achievements and the number of zeros on our pay check.

Your parents indulge in addictive behaviours.

We learn to SELF-SOOTHE with the help of substances, things and the company of people. Instead of listening to our own emotions, attempting to understand them. Instead of working out how we feel, what we truly need in our lives to feel happy, we run away from ourselves.

All of the above behaviours lead to deep unhappiness due to lack of self-love. And all day long we can repeat to our loved ones that they are the most precious beings on the planet. Do you know why they won't believe us? Because they form their beliefs from their experiences of us NEGLECTING ourselves.

Is this what we want for our children? Do we want them to feel rejected, unloved and abandoned? Do you still wonder why teen suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues rates are reaching alarming levels?

Our children are a fantastic, IMMEDIATE OPPORTUNITY for us to look at ourselves if we dare so.

It is never too late to stop destroying our relationships, including the one with ourselves. A relationship is only alive if you nurture it. If we 'don't care' about how others feel, our relationships with them won't certainly be caring. If we say one thing and do another, our relationship cannot be trusting.

Good parenting isn't so much about being the perfect example we are collectively chasing. And it certainly isn't about denying that we could be using the wrong parenting methods so far. Because pretending we are' fine', reluctant to learn new things prevents us from growing!

Parenting is more about our ability to catch ourselves, to SELF-REFLECT, to rise from that experience and above our own Ego. About our ability to accept responsibility, being honest about making a mistake and rectifying it. It is about saying 'I am sorry, I messed up and this how I am going to fix it.' Isn't that, afteralll, what we would like to hear from our children when they make a mistake? Or would we prefer them to pretend they are perfect?

Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.

Copyright © 2017 Michaela Patel

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