My Parenting handbook

Parenting Hadnbook

Chapter 1

Chapter 4: Reactive Parenting

In this chapter you explore how your own childhood can negatively impact your ability to stay emotionally regulated and connected to your child. This chapter will also explore ways to begin the healing process and carve out the type of relationship with your child you always hoped for.

Tania and I have never met a parent who didn’t love their child and want what was best for them. A lack of love is not the issue when it comes to parenting. Everybody has ghosts, past experiences that may have been counterintuitive to healthy development. We may have been taught to hide our tears to avoid shame, to lash out with anger when we feel scared to physically protect ourselves, or to avoid conflict in order to preserve our connection to our loved ones. Some of us have minor scars, while others carry the burden of grievous trauma. Without critical reflection of our early experiences, our past can unconsciously script our responses to our own children and loved ones, and then unhealthy patterns are passed down from one generation to the next.

We all have a storyline that flows through our lives; it’s shaped by our experiences, our interpretations of those experiences, and the voices of significant people in our lives. For some, this narrative is empowering. These kinds of people know their worth and are aware of the gifts they have to bring to this world—particularly when it comes to raising their children. While they are not self-assured all the time, deep down, they know their lives are meaningful and they have something to offer their children. Chances are, when they were growing up, they had significant adults in their corner who taught them to love and respect themselves, showed them compassion and respect, and helped form a lens in which they could see the inherent good in others and the world.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case for so many parents. Many parents feel trapped by the voice in their mind that tells them they are unlovable, not good enough, or broken, while others are scary and untrustworthy. Those adults often see circumstances as threatening and worry about what they stand to lose rather than feeling grateful for what they have. Emotions can be difficult, overwhelming, and burdensome. If this sounds like you, please understand that this is not who you are but a story someone long ago started writing for you. Maybe it was an abusive family member, a dismissive parent, the school bully, or another trauma you endured as a child. We do our best to adapt from adversity, but sometimes these negative childhood experiences shape our behavior to such an extent that, without our awareness, they start to become “who we are,” and our life story becomes written for us, not by us.

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