Compass Resources for When Parenting is Hard
Parenting is a journey filled with countless joys and moments of pride, but it is not for the faint of heart. No matter the age of your child, parenting comes with its own set of challenges – from sleepless nights with infants to navigating the turbulent waters of the teenage years and beyond, each stage presents unique difficulties. As parents, we strive to give our children just as much or more than we had and are mentally armed with the list of ways we will be different and better for our kids than our parents were for us.
The Journey of a Lifetime
No matter the age or stage, parenting asks for all you have to give…and then a little more. The early years of parenting are often a blur of sleepless nights, diaper changes, and endless feedings. The struggle to provide constant care and attention can be physically and emotionally draining. Parents find themselves longing for a good night’s sleep and some moments of peace.
As children enter elementary school, parents face the challenge of juggling schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and playdates. The pressure to ensure their child’s academic success and social development can be overwhelming. As they grow into adolescence, they seek independence and test boundaries. Parents may grapple with how much freedom to grant and how to guide through the challenges of peer pressure, relationships, and academics.
When children head off to college, parents face the difficulty of letting go. Worrying about their child’s future, safety, and well-being can be a constant source of stress. Even when children become adults, parents often struggle with letting their grown children make their own decisions and mistakes. The desire to protect them can sometimes lead to conflicts.
The Dark Side of Providing More
One of the inherent challenges of parenting is the desire to give our children more than we had in our childhood. We overcompensate for what we wished our own parents did for us.
- But in the midst of all our work to do and be better, do you ever find yourself perhaps the slightest bit jealous of your child and the life you are giving them?
- Has the thought ever crossed your mind that if only you had been given the same kind of love and support your child receives, your life might have turned out differently?
- In the thick of the battle with your own inner demons as you are giving out all the emotional and mental bandwidth you have, do you ever feel the tinge of anger wondering why you have to be the one to do all the work of being a chain breaker and they get to have life easier because of it?
Deep within us, there’s a memory of our little self, wishing we could have it all too. This fosters those feelings of jealousy when we see our children enjoying privileges or opportunities that we never had.
The Gift of Self-Healing for Our Children’s Sake
One of the best gifts we can give our children is the healthiest version of ourselves. This involves recognizing the emotional needs we had as children and addressing them so that we can give freely to our children without jealousy or resentment. It means acknowledging that we might have had unmet needs as kids and finding healthy ways to fulfill them now.
Authors Slade, Sadler, and Mayes shared in a research study, “We found that parents who engaged in a reflective process, in which they explored and understood their own emotions and experiences, showed improved emotional attunement and responsiveness to their children. This enhanced emotional connection had a positive impact on their children’s emotional development, resilience, and ability to form secure attachments. By working on their own emotional well-being and self-awareness, parents were able to break the cycle of generational trauma and create a more nurturing and supportive environment for their children.”
Resources and Healing
It’s important for parents to recognize that they will inevitably make mistakes in their parenting journey. Everyone processes the world differently and has unique needs. The best thing parents can do for their children is to acknowledge their parental failures, take responsibility for them, and support their children as they embark on their own journey of healing and growth.
One valuable resource for parents seeking healing and growth is the Crucible weekend retreat. Participants are guided through teachings and exercises to explore their inner child’s unmet needs and learn how to fulfill them in healthy ways. This journey of self-discovery and healing empowers parents to show up for their children in a more emotionally aware and supportive manner.
Joining a supportive community like one offered through Crucible can provide a much-needed sense of belonging and understanding amidst the feelings of isolation of parenting. It’s easy to neglect your own well-being in the process of parenting. Practicing reflection, mindfulness, and self-care can help you become a more resilient and patient parent.
Despite its challenges, parenting is a deeply rewarding journey. It is natural to encounter difficulties and even feelings of jealousy along the way, but wise parents use those feelings as a catalyst for change and growth. By focusing on healing, self-awareness, and providing a nurturing environment, parents can give their children the best version of themselves. No matter the age of your children, it is never too late to start on a journey of healing and see what beauty and joy wait for you on the other side.