How to know if your baggage is affecting your parenting

  1. Your kids behaviour and reaction to your expectations and rules is a fair indicator
  2. Ask Sparky
  3. Ask an outsider
  4. Ask your partner or best friend.

All parents have baggage or shady beliefs that affect the way we parent. These beliefs limit or hurt our kids, and us, or they hurt our relationship with our kids in some way.

For instance if you believe it’s not okay for your child to express their feelings in public, then you will tell them to stop crying in the supermarket. If you believe children need to do be seen and not heard when you have friends over, you will discourage your child from taking part in a conversation.

Our baggage is usually the result of our upbringing and the beliefs of the people around us when we were growing up. Do you ever stop in the middle of parenting and think, “Oh, I’m turning into my mother!” Or are you purposefully doing the opposite of what your mother did? For instance if your mother worked a lot when you were growing up, maybe you have baggage about having to drop off and pick up your kid every day from school as well as be there for every school concert, every award day and every school event.

Our baggage is in our subconscious, which means we act on it without even realising what we are doing. Even though we know we love our kids no matter what and that we will support them no matter what, our autopilot parenting leads our kids to assume that we only approve of them when they are behaving within the guidelines we have set for them.

So straight up it is important to tell our kids that we love them and will support them even if they do break the rules or do something wrong!

If we have strict rules based on our baggage about friends, use of the internet, types of foods we let our kids eat, curfews and social outings and our kids want to step out of our box, they will probably throw tantrums and fight with us or they will just do what they want behind our backs or passively make life hard for us in some other way.

If our rules are based on loving beliefs our kids will most likely talk to us lovingly about their opinion and what they want because they know subconsciously we are coming from a place of love.

So…

1.If your kids fight with you consistently, throw tantrums, go behind your back or passively sabotage things (like get physically sick or hurt) it is likely your rules and expectations are based on your baggage and that you are coming from place of fear.

I’ll give you an example. I make my son go to Maths tutoring. He has been going for four months and he still makes it painful for everyone in our family when he has to do his practice maths. This has been going on way for way too long to be a loving belief of mine that he needs maths support. So…

  1. When I stop and ask Sparky – “Why am I making my son do maths tutoring?” I hear a very clear answer – “You are scared!”

Too right I am scared! I am scared he will go through school being hopeless at maths and end up hating maths and school. I am scared he will think he is stupid when he is not. I am scared he will not know his bloody tables – ever!

You might be thinking me sending him to maths tutoring is fair enough and it might be if I wasn’t doing it totally out of fear! The whole thing is based on my baggage that he won’t do well in maths at school (as a teacher I know how damaging it is for kids who lack confidence in maths). I really need to let this go and then ask Sparky what to do about the whole maths-tutoring scenario. When I do this Sparky will probably suggest keeping him at tutoring but the whole energy around it will be based on love, not fear, which will make a massive difference to my son’s attitude to maths and tutoring. That makes sense doesn’t it?

Okay what about another example. I’ll use one from a movie I saw. What if you let your teenage daughter have a phone and the Internet on the condition that you monitor all her social media every day? Basically you check every single thing – every text, message, FB post, and her daily history on the Internet?

You do this because you are scared some pervert will try to friend her and then organise to meet her somewhere and then abduct her! Maybe you have baggage about it because you saw it on a movie or read about it happening in real life!

In the movie the teenage girl totally rebelled, she ended up using her friends Internet and putting a different sim in her phone so her mother didn’t know what she was really up to.

It is obvious this mother was doing this because of her baggage or fear that her daughter wasn’t safe on social media.

That doesn’t mean you can’t monitor your teenage daughters FB. It simply means you need to be aware of whether you are imposing your expectations and rules on your kids based on fear from your baggage.

  1. Your kids behaviour and reaction to your rules is one way to tell if your baggage is affecting your parenting,
  2. Asking Sparky is another way and
  3. A completely random way is to ask an outsider with no attachment to you or your family. This may be a little confronting but wouldn’t you like to know?
  4. You could also ask your partner or best friend but they might not tell you the truth because we get pretty damn defensive about our baggage and they might value our relationship more than the truth!

When we make rules and expectations without the burden of fear from our baggage it feels different. Our kids can feel the love and the intention behind the rules and then when they want to go outside our rules they are more likely to come to us openly and honestly to talk about what they want or how they want the rules to change for an occasion or for good.

When our rules and expectations are not based on our baggage we listen to our kids and lovingly take their viewpoint into consideration. We adapt and change when it is perfectly reasonable and logical.

That’s it!

I better go and get rid of my maths baggage so I can do a bit of that adapting and changing!

Love Kathy

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