On the latest episode of Breaking Cycles with Gao and Karabo, we talk openly about our admission and post-admission stories to a psychiatric hospital. It is a follow-up conversation to episode three where we share our mental health journey and why we hate motherhood. The common thread between these two conversations is us.
We are at the centre of this conversation because conscious parenting starts with us.
Let me explain.
This morning, I had to take a breath as my 5-year-old sassy daughter woke on the wrong side of the bed, and it was a painful morning of trying to get her ready for school. I heard “leave me alone” and “don’t touch me” countless times. It was hurtful, to be honest, and when I recognised that I was feeling hurt by the behaviour of a 5-year-old, I took a step back. I realised that I felt like she was being rude and disrespectful, and with some regulation, I realised that that’s the lens I am viewing her behaviour, and that might not be the truth of what is happening. Navigating my hurt and acknowledging that my 5-year-old daughter is not responsible for my feelings encouraged me to regulate and carry her with love. So, when she kept shouting that I leave her alone, I asked; “I can see that you are not okay, so are you sure you would like me to leave you right now?” “No”, she shouted back.
So, her brain and body wanted me to leave her alone, but her heart knew that I was what she needed at that moment.
After a good cry and a cuddle (which we HAD to make time for), she was well on her way to school.
This was a rollercoaster for her and a bigger one for me.
Sifting through my triggers by realising that I was triggered in the first place was what helped me get out of the house in peace without any aggression and further pain. This is what healing looks like for parents and is a big part of our mental health journey.
It was in my regulating my own emotions that I managed to help her regulate hers, even though I had no idea what she was going through in the first place.
When we go through mornings like that, we usually find a time after school when she tells me what was happening in the morning, and we chat through the emotions and how she handled them. She knows that saying mean things to people is unkind, and we should not do it. In the moment of her meanness, she is aware that she is being unkind, but based on where she is in her brain development journey she just can’t help herself. I know that talking about it does not mean that she will be kinder during a meltdown next time, but I am confident that consistently carrying and teaching her will yield better results than punishing her for being unkind.
The conscious parenting and mental health journeys are so intertwined. Dr Shefali Tsabary titled her book The Conscious Parent; transforming ourselves, empowering our children. We think the work of parenting starts with the child, but it actually starts with us. It is in prioritising our mental health and honouring the healing journey that we can allow our children to teach us and flourish into exactly who they are created to be!
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