The parenting emotion nobody ever warned you about.
You feel guilty when you’re not paying enough attention to your kids.
You feel guilty when you’ve spent too much money on them.
You feel guilty when your worries and to-do list occupy your head when you should be present with them.
You feel guilty about that fight—or many fights—you’ve had with your spouse in front of them.
You feel guilty that you should be doing more.
And you feel really, really guilty when you’ve blown your top and yelled at them.
Those moments when you feel frustration and anger building to the boiling point and before you know it, you’ve said something you wished you could take back.
Most every parent I’ve worked with says they’ve blown it.
Talk to any mom or dad, and you’ll hear scores of confessions followed by self-flagellation.
Maybe you’ve “blown it” when you were trying to get your toddler into her car seat and it turned into a wrestling match, culminating in you physically forcing her in. You’re sure people walking by are calling child protection services.
Maybe, after the 7th time telling your grade schooler to shut down the video game and get to his math homework, you screamed so loudly you stunned yourself.
Maybe you had enough of your kids’ fighting over a particular toy so you shoved the thing in the garbage and slammed the lid.
Whatever happened, you felt like an out-of-control tyrant. How are your kids supposed to respect you? How are YOU supposed to respect you?
You know one thing for sure: you really don’t like yourself in these moments.
It seems that you can’t control your impulses in certain moments, perhaps when your child talks back, ignores you, or defies you. These situations “trigger” you.
And chances are, these triggers originated in your own childhood.
There’s an old saying: “When it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”
In those moments that you lose your cool, who do you sound like?
Was it the mean third-grade teacher who shamed you in front of the whole class?
Was it your mother when she’d come home from work and pour her stress out on you?
Was it your dad when he walked in on you doing something he didn’t approve of?
As you were growing up, you internalized other people’s behavior, even if you didn’t like it. It’s how a developing brain is formed.
If this makes you think, “Oh no, my kid is learning to copy my behavior,” you’re right. But the good news is that unlike previous generations, you as a parent have many more tools for self-awareness and changing unhealthy patterns.
The very fact that your behavior bothers you is a moment of self awareness. The first step in solving any issue is to be aware of it. The problem is that you don’t know what to do next—you feel that blowing up is somehow out of your control. You may even tell yourself that you’ll be more calm and collected next time, but then your anger seems to boil up out of nowhere.
Again, this has its roots in your own childhood.
See, kids bring up everything within you that is “unfinished.” If you had an overly-critical father, you might be very sensitive when your child refuses to take your advice. Or if your mother was frequently interrupting you and you didn’t feel heard, you’ll become incensed when your kid won’t listen.
Your child’s behavior acts as a trigger that “wakes up” dormant wounds—and these are unique to you.
This is why what freaks out one parent doesn’t faze another. You might lose your cool when your child is taking forever to get ready and out the door, while your friend will become exceedingly exasperated if she has to read yet another bedtime story.
Whenever you react emotionally in a way that you feel is disproportionate to the event at hand, you can practically guarantee that you are responding from a subconscious trigger—your “unfinished business.”
But subconscious triggers can only survive when you’re not aware of them. As long as you keep operating from this subconscious place, you’ll keep falling into reactions you’re not proud of. Instead of being in reaction mode, you want to shift into response mode.
Responsiveness comes from engaging your conscious mind instead of allowing the subconscious to rule the show.
That means that the key to more effective and fulfilling parenting is to become more conscious, so you can respond INSTEAD OF react.
How do you do this?
By becoming more present in each moment so that you can see and feel your reactions as they unfold.
When you start paying close attention to how you feel when you’re with your child—and especially in sticky situations that tend to trigger you—you’ll start to catch yourself beginning to react. It might be a tightening of the chest, or feeling your pulse race, or thinking a particular thought, like “She should not be acting this way.”
And then, in that small moment when you know you’re being triggered, you pause. Or you smile when you’d normally hold a grudge. These are micro choices or “mini course corrections.” Every time you respond instead of allowing yourself to dive into your habitual reaction, you rewire your thinking. You create new patterns, and over time you get triggered less and less.
When you’ve “blown it,” it’s easy to give up. You’ll fixate on a particular “big” moment when you yelled at your kids or slammed the door, and you’ll make this one moment define your parenting.
Parenting is made up of many moments. Every moment with your child is a chance to begin again. When you realize that your child is your greatest personal growth coach, you’ll become more curious about what issues your child is helping you bring up in yourself. Little by little, moment by moment, you’ll evolve as a person and as a parent—and your child only wins.
But since you’ve been operating out of certain automatic patterns for some time, I’m here to help guide you so that you interrupt your usual reactions AND replace them with positive, effective responses.
In my program Parenting Without Bargains, Battles or Bribes, you’ll identify the subconscious triggers—unfinished business—that are causing you to react to your kids in ways you’re not proud of, causing you to get off track.
I’ll then teach you how to make “course corrections” in the moment that add up to big wins. You’ll learn to focus on what’s right instead of dwelling on what you did “wrong” and use this newfound perspective to spearhead your transformation.
You’ll also learn how to take the “long view” in parenting—a vision for how you want your family to be—so you don’t get stuck on negative interactions, which ultimately drains you of time, energy, and precious emotional resources.Watch Parenting Without Bargains, Battles or Bribes Now
Relax. It is entirely possible for you to parent without exploding. I’ve taught thousands of parents to do it—all of them with their own “issues.”
P.S. When you yell or your temper gets out of hand, do your kids get scared?
If not, they should be. Kids who don’t recoil from a parent’s outburst have gotten too used to it. In other words, they’ve been systematically conditioned to accept this behavior as normal. That’s not good for either of you.
But it’s not too late to change this dynamic:Restore Harmony In Your Household