We are Responsible for our Reactions, not our Children
Jul 30, 2020
Our children are never, ever responsible for our reactions, our emotions and our behaviour in response to their challenges.
This does not mean we are to internalise, blame and shame ourselves or hate and abandon ourselves as a result. It means we are to extend to ourselves the same compassion, kindness, gentleness and empathy we extend to others who are wounded and struggling.
If we, as parents, find ourselves inside of a loop of reacting, rather than responding to our children’s challenges, it might just be an indication that we have very little control over the process and/or new answers or information within ourselves in order to change.
Whilst we may find ourselves self loathing after yelling at our children, or not handling a difficult situation in the way that others might, it’s important to recognise that the process of self loathing and shame is the very enemy that prevents us from being honest with ourselves, with others and from seeking the support we need. And we do need it.
Our children are the people we seek ongoing support for, advocate for, approach with loving kindness. Our children come from us. Though they are separate beings, they are made from the very parts of us that are oppressed and swallowed up by self hatred, by robbing ourselves of self love and patience.
Why are we not deserving of support?
Why should we not prioritise our wellbeing?
There is no shame in having huge emotional responses in difficult moments. But we are still responsible for seeking the support to manage those moments in order to prevent the aftermath of our children internalising our struggles and also internalising responsibility for them.
So many children walk on eggshells; tuning in very quickly to who the safe people are in their lives. And safety has nothing to do with love. Children will still love their parents and carers no matter how they behave, but they will make it about them. That they weren’t loveable, that they weren’t acceptable, that they weren’t manageable, that they caused stress.
As adults, we learn how to sense our triggers. We learn how to turn into our neurobiological process of stress and when things are getting too much and we learn the small things we can put into place to prevent the eruption or explosion.
We cannot expect calm from our children whilst meeting them with rage. Children grow, and when provided the autonomy and freedom to make choices about how to spend their time and who with, choices will be made that will hurt us, should we still be active in our inability to manage our emotional responses and our need for control and authority.
Those of us who have been the children grow to be adults that do not want to repeat the process. We create space, even though we love those people. We create space.
I’ve been the parent who could not manage my emotional responses.
I’ve been the parent who needed control - at any cost.
I’ve been the parent who raged.
And I’ve been the parent whose children created space; whose children made choices to disconnect, even though they loved me.
We are responsible. We can continue on in that cycle; or we can seek support, starting with self forgiveness, and self love. If you’re angry, if you’re struggling, you are not alone. I see you. I love you. I was you. I love you.
Those huge emotional responses most certainly come with being neurodivergent; but they also stem from deep and painful wounds. Having huge, deep and intense emotions is a good thing. It is a gift. But we CAN channel that experience and that gift into the incredibly beautiful parts of life that keep us connected to ourselves and to those we care about.
Love. Kindness. Empathy. Compassion. Gentleness. Sadness. Joy.
It’s okay to be angry. It’s important to experience and to tune into our anger. Anger can be a sacred ally that helps to carve a path toward change. But when out of control, when left unaddressed and unheard, anger destructs and destroys. It leaves scars in our children that often cannot be undone.
We are responsible. But we don’t have to do it alone. And it is never too late. Never. My babies returned to me. But I am responsible for creating the space for them to feel safe in loving me.
I am worthy of having beautiful relationships with my babies and owning the power in being a cycle breaker.
Image credit: Ketut Subiyanto