You might not believe this, but I wasn’t always so rainbows and moonbeams about my parenting approach. I was raised by a single mom who experienced abuse as a child. She didn’t heal from that trauma, and it showed up in how she parented me. She was determined to protect me from abuse and mistakes of my own by controlling the choices I was or was not allowed to make. Add in her cancer diagnosis when I was 7 years old, and you have a child who lived to please her mom until her death 14 years later.
I recreated what I experienced for my own children.
With this model of motherhood, I recreated what I experienced. I decided to protect my children from the evils of the world and even protect them from cancer by what food they would consume. In this also came ego, namely MY ego. Since I was the primary caregiver for my kids, of course I knew what was best for my children. Anything that went against my choices, whether made by my kids or others, created stress in me.
A stress caused by watching my perception of control being stripped away.
You can imagine how well this all went over when I went through a divorce and began being away from my kids 50% of the time.
I’ll give you a hint: I was devastated. Completely stressed. Expectant of all the worst of my kids’ lives.
All because I couldn’t control the factors in their lives half of the time. About a year into this process of learning to live without my kids, a year into losing an unhealthy amount of weight, losing a ton of hair and tripling my cavity count, I began the process of discovering a purpose outside my children.
On the path of discovery, here’s what I learned:
Children are born with their own purpose and ideas that often times have nothing to do with their parents. With the right guidance, our struggles strengthen us. They give us experience that serves us throughout life, redirects us and humbles us.
Children don’t want to be unhappy. It’s social conditioning that teaches them the concept of lack and comparison.
Children who rebel are leaning into their life path and gaining valuable experience. You can guide children to recognize and trust their intuition. Give them responsibility for their own choices through natural consequences. The result is parents having to worry less about controlling to protect their kids.
I learned there are two guiding forces in our world: fear and love. It’s in allowing love to guide us that fear diminishes and magic happens.
Control and Your Brain
Control is the leading cause of mom stress, all stress if we are being honest. It is a nasty beast that can come from many different experiences and feelings.
Commonly, people who lean into that stress-creating control also experience
- Low self-esteem
- Fear of failure
- Inclinations of empaths
- Judgments by their faith
- Issues with trust or abandonment
- Anxiety and/or depression
- And, sometimes trauma and abuse
It’s ok to experience these things. I can check off many of these on my own control-creating list. Addressing these experiences with love and non-judgment is so helpful in forgiving yourself and others. It gives you permission to heal instead of wearing these experiences like labels. Labels are good for understanding exactly what you are up against, but then let them go.
As a parent your control may look like:
- Helicopter parenting
- Dishonesty to your children
- Micromanagement of your child
- Controlling your child’s friendships and other relationships
- And issues stemming from unhealed family abuse patterns such as gaslighting, various forms of abuse and cruel teasing.
Steps for Moving Through and Releasing Control:
Acknowledge your behaviors, thoughts and response habits. Be honest and gentle with yourself as you begin to observe patterns in your mindset and reactions. For me, control lives at the top of my stomach. I feel a strong unpleasant tickle when my ego jumps in and wants to exert control.
Practice non-judgment of these patterns. Say things like “I give love to this feeling or thought, it’s my body’s (or mind’s) way of trying to protect me.”
“It’s ok to have had these past experiences, thoughts and coping mechanisms. Now it is time for me to heal with my new awareness.”
Hypnosis and meditations about forgiveness can be VERY powerful in taking the first step towards releasing control.
Pause, then respond. Ask yourself, “Is this about controlling the situation?” “Will my child be seriously hurt if I release control of this?” And be realistic about how much harm might actually happen and how much harm you are projecting. Always remember that we learn our greatest lessons through failure.
Practice new habits. It all begins with you, parents. When you grow, heal and find peace in your life, your children model that contentment. Start small. One step can have large and lasting impact.
Disclaimer: When using the videos and articles created by Leah Recor it is not a substitute for the care of a medical professional.
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