The other day, after telling Charlotte “No, no, danger danger” at the outlet for what felt like the millionth time, I thought about what kind of parent I wanted to be. Let me explain
I talked about what kind of Mother I am here, but I was thinking about how I wanted to handle discipline. Was I going to be the type of parent that redirects? Or just says “No!” Or explains, “Hands are for playing with toys!”
Parenting happens so gradually, it’s hard to stop and decide what you’re going to do when you're in the moment. I have to admit this. I think I went into parenthood being a little over confident in my ability to handle these situations.
I have training in how to handle children’s behaviors covering the attachment style and the behavioral route. I felt like I was covered. I’d even heard over and over by my colleagues and friends when I was pregnant, “You’re going to be a great Mother, you know all the strategies”. (HA!)
It felt like yesterday that we were just worrying about her eating and sleeping, and now all of a sudden I had to think about how to teach her safety in our own home. It feels both all of a sudden, and sneaky, if that makes sense. When did we turn the corner from laying in the Mamaroo, to getting into every single cupboard and climbing the stairs?
It just made me think of how we automatically revert to how our parents taught us things. They never specifically told us how to parent, they just did it and we learned through experience. How did you know to get dressed this morning? Did you think about which leg you were going to put in your pants first? No, you just did it. That’s because it’s ingrained in your brain. My point is, that I found myself saying “No, no, danger, danger” which are the exact words I heard my Mother say a million times growing up.
After I heard them come out of my mouth, I wondered if I really wanted those to be the words I use with Charlotte. After reflecting on it, I didn’t. I didn’t want to say that to her when she got to an outlet, or close to the stove. In that moment though, it didn’t matter what I wanted to say, my brain just automatically told my mouth to say those words.
Why? Because I’d heard them so many times I didn’t even have to think about it. It was automatic. I realized that in order for me to parent Charlotte differently than I’d been parented, I had to make conscious decisions to do so, every time.
It made me reflect on the other ways that I was parented. It reminded me about how my Mom wasn’t comfortable letting me explore. My Mother wanted to keep me safe, so she was always with me, and reminded me of the danger in the world.
This made me often choose the “safe” route. I rarely took chances, for fear of getting hurt, or worse, failing. I chose things I knew I was good at, and didn’t challenge myself because I never wanted to come up short.
Now, I need to consciously make an effort to allow Charlotte to explore the world around her without fear. I need to hide my discomfort of her exploration (as long as she is safe) which includes lots of deep breaths on my part. I needed to let her fall, which is how she learned to walk! I need to allow her to get frustrated, and express that frustration in order for her to figure things out on her own. And build trust in herself!
As you probably can tell, I am a huge believer of developing an understanding of your upbringing when it comes to parenting. I am constantly reflecting and checking in on how my past experiences are affecting my parenting and my relationships. If this is something you'd like explore further, please, don't hesitate to contact me.
What are some things you want to work on when it comes to parenting?