On Thursday I ended up in tears again at some of the parenting issues I’ve been facing. Hubby has been away for almost six weeks (due home soon!) and the pressures of solo-parenting began to get to me. Master Speedy (middle child and 7 years) has been regularly coming out with negative comments about himself and even tries to get his sisters to hit him to make himself feel better. Among other things.
I’ve been seeking outside help because I have often been at a loss to know how best to help my boy. I’ve been observing that the help he has recently started getting is too little and not often enough. He’s been even angrier with himself than usual. As I was continuing to read The Gifts of Imperfection I had a ‘brainwave’. Why not get a special journal and write some of the key points I’m reading about in Brené’s book and leave spaces for him to write his thoughts as well. Journal keeping has helped me stay grounded over the years and it has helped Master Speedy in the past as well.
I followed up on my thought by purchasing a journal and a special pen for him to use and began to write some entries. Here are some of the thoughts from the book that I’ve simplified or paraphrased a bit for my 7 year old:
If I want to fully experience love and belonging, I must believe that I am worthy of love and belonging.
You are worthy now. Not if. Not when. You are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.
Belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.
We grow love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something that we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow. We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.
Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic (not a copy), imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and loving toward ourselves.
Obviously there is only so much of these that he will take in, but he seems to be understanding enough to make a difference in his thinking. He eagerly began writing his own thoughts in the book and is making decisions about ways he is going to change his words and behaviour to be more loving towards himself. It’s very early days yet, but I’ve seen big enough changes for the better that I’ve realized I need to be committed to helping him establish his own learning and journalling habits.
I also printed out this picture and pasted it in. I spoke to Master Speedy about the fact that his life is like a seed. If he speaks negative words about himself it is like pouring bits of poison onto the seed and that to grow into a big healthy tree he needs to water the seed with love and kindness instead.
I’m aware that I’ve likely contributed to my son’s negative view of himself due to my own dysfunctional upbringing. But I’m so grateful that I got started on my own learning journey, which has included therapy. When I realized just how unhealthy my home life had been for me I worried to my psychotherapist, “I don’t want to repeat the cycle with my own children.” His response was:
“The best thing you can do for your children is to work on yourself.”
I am finding this to be very true. As I’ve worked hard on myself by reading and learning I have become more understanding of my children and better equipped to relate to them on an emotional level. I know that it’s going to be a continual journey of learning and growth, but the rewards have been so huge that I find it totally worth it. Already I have become so much more at peace with myself and who I am. I actually like myself and the woman I’m becoming. I couldn’t have said that 6 years ago.
It’s a privilege to be coaching my son on this most important journey of learning to accept and value himself. Do you have children who struggle to love themselves? Did you struggle as a child? Still? What resources have you found helpful on your journey?