I don’t know how you grew up, but for a part of my childhood- it was very much a whatever your parents say goes. Growing up in a Caribbean household, meant you didn’t push back, you don’t challenge and most of all you never saw your parents in a position where they were “equals”, let alone emotional; anger did not count as one of those emotions. There was a generational pressure to keep the balance between parent/child very much tipped towards the parents holding all the cards or power, your feelings as a child was not a part of the conversation. But, being part of that shift in generations, where I have a foot in the pre-internet days and another firmly planted in the insert explosion; we can see that in today’s society the parenting has drastically changed over the years and it has had a major shift. This week on the blog I am discussing my style of “emotional” parenting, read along.
Vulnerability is not a weakness, it is our greatest measure of courage.Brene Brown
One of my greatest missions as a parent is to ensure that I am fully transparent with my daughter ( where appropriate, of course ). I don’t want her to grow up thinking I am infallible or that everything I do will always be correct. One of the things I remember growing up and especially coming from a West Indian family, what your parents say goes. No discussion, no push back and definitely no back chat. And while, I still believe there is value is that and in that social structure of respecting your elders, the idea that adults ALWAYS know what’s best and therefore can never be challenged is a faulty one. Your parents as much as they love you and want the very best for you, ultimately, they cannot live your life for you. They can guide you and they can give you advice based on what they know so far, but at the end of the day you and only you are in charge of living your life. I remember in my teens, the 1st time my mother revealed to me her worries and for the 1st time in my memory, showed vulnerability. Of course at the time I was thinking what on earth is happening? Moms don’t cry, especially not my mom- they have it all figured out, they have all the answers right? Who am I go to if my mom doesn’t have the answers?! But, years later, I realize how tough it might have been for her to show how she was really feeling. And in her seeking a way to connect with me deeper, even if at the time she was merely tired and tears were merely a sign of her being tired. It still stayed with me.
Vulnerability is the only bridge to build connection.
At the very least, my main goal is to ensure that my daughter is emotionally mature and can understand her feelings and not feel guilty for having them. Of course, at the best of times as adults we struggle with this, but the more and more I mature myself, the more I am learning to give myself grace with my emotions and this is a skill I believe is also important for her. Generations of people viewed their parents through a revered lens and I accept that at the time it was just the way things were, but I feel like we lost years of knowledge and wisdom- had that veil been not been lifted. Maybe we, unknowingly added a pressure to parents to be a certain way and this didn’t allow us to be able to relate to them. Which I think is a real shame, because maybe it would have given us a level of maturity or even a more sympathetic / empathetic view point of the world and its people.
I of course, am no parenting expert and I don’t profess to know a lot, I also have a single child, so my experience is very limited, but at the same time, I also have a mother and sister who work in early childhood education. We discuss, share and see a lot of different things. So this is why I believe showing my daughter that I am fallible, I make mistakes, I don’t have it all figured out. Some answers I will need time to collect or I will need to seek advise. I do not know it all and will and should seek out more qualified people, this will only add to my knowledge and understanding. I have genuinely seen it unlock something in her thought process when I’ve told her that I’m not feeling very well or that I’m feeling frustrated over something. She will either come over to offer a sympathetic hug or if it involves her, she will discuss with me a way she could be making better choices. I am not saying this will work for every child, but for my family structure it has worked wonders and being open and honest with mine, I feel has made her a better person because it helps her to understand my emotions and eventually her own. Do you have any experience with being emotionally open with the children in your circle?