The Cost of NOT Hurting our Kids
Can't we all just be human! I mean I'm all for attachment parenting, and positive parenting, and conscious parenting, even hands free parenting. Really ALL FOR IT 100%! And I maybe practice these in the moment 5% of the time. The other 95% of the time if I'm lucky I catch myself pretty quickly and take a breath to calm down and reconfigure my game plan, but MOST of the time I have to 'circle back around'. I mess up and circle back around to the relationship. Reconnecting, reattaching, saying sorry, and reassessing how things could go better.
See I used to have huge expectations that I could display all these beautiful types of parenting in the moment ALL of the time. And don't get me wrong if a miracle descended on me and that could happen, I would welcome it with open arms. But I know that won't happen, because it's in the learning, aching and growing together that we establish a relationship that will last a life time. And as much as I want my kids to behave and I never want to leave them with a negative impact from my teaching them to behave, ultimately when it all boils down I want our imperfect selves to have a life time of relationship. And conflict is a part of relationships, and conflict even when done well leaves unexpected impacts.
I had to learn to accept that I WILL IMPACT MY KIDS, and so will you! As much as I love them with a love I never knew existed I will impact them negatively. I will mess up some of the time and they will make convoluted meaning out choices that I make, and end up hurt when I really didn't necessarily do anything wrong. That's the other thing just because my kids feel hurt doesn't mean I messed up. So okay what I don't mean by this is that if they come to me feeling hurt that I say to them "well just because you feel hurt doesn't mean I did anything wrong..." That's so completely invalidating and the opposite of loving and attentive. What I do mean is that, when they come to us hurt we validate their feelings, let them know we didn't intend that but it doesn't change the fact that they are hurt and that's so unfortunate.
Here's the thing, I believe that in this shame filled North American society of ours one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is to acknowledge that we will impact them and that is okay. In fact, it's just human, and human is more than okay, it's necessary that we model being human to our children. If we don't accept and acknowledge that we will impact them, then we are only left with two choices, trying to outrun our shame by hustling for our own worthiness as a parent, or digging ourselves a deep shame filled grave to unravel in, or pedulating between the two. I'm always about a third option and I most definitely did the third option for a while and sometimes still do. Until I wake up and remember "you are not meant to never impact your kids negatively, you are meant to love them and yourself despite of messing up".
That right there is also what I want for my babes, to love their selves and others right in the mess, right through the conflict and to always always choose relationship. To circle back around, to own their faults and their humanity and as such have bounds of grace for their selves and others. It's in the grace of being human that we choose again and again to circle back around.
So I might know when my kids are 4, or 14 maybe not till their 40 will I know of some way that I have been a part of a negative impact for them. But even then I will choose relationship and I will choose grace for myself and for them. Just because their hurt doesn't mean I was a horrible parent and that I didn't do lots of things amazingly. They get hurt because they are human, I am human, we are separate and we are in relationship, and conflict is always a part of relationships.
I want to leave you with something that has inspired me and become my guide. Brene Brown's parenting manifesto hangs in my home and in the office at RePose as I really think there is no better way to sum up my desire for my children and our relationship. I hope this can be a gift to you as it has been to me.
With all the love and grace!
Danielle Braun-Kauffman MC, RCC