Parenting, even for the most emotionally stable among us, can be a challenging time of life. This season of life can come when we’re also pursuing our career ambitions and navigating endless items on our to-do lists. While there is no such thing as a “perfect parent,” the most important thing you can provide for your child is your love and warmth toward them. Parenting with love and warmth are essential nutrients for a young child.
Attending to your child’s emotions with loving warmth soothes your child and helps them learn the lifelong skill of comforting themselves. Children who experience this emotionally stable attention grow up to be stable, resilient adults with a strong sense of who they are. They can set healthy boundaries and develop close connections with others. It’s as if they are navigating their lives in smooth, calm waters.
Suppose you came from a family background in which your parents were preoccupied, stressed out, cold, and often harsh. In that case, you might witness yourself acting in similar ways even if your intention is different, especially when children come into your life. I explain this further in my last blog, with the fictional character, Grace.
Attuning to Yourself With the Good Parent Messages
Grace came in for her next session after receiving the list of good parent messages and seemed more calm and present. She tells me how she was able to observe herself beginning to get triggered when her kids would whine or spill something. “It helps to notice where I tense in my body,” she says. “It gives me a warning signal that I’m beginning to simmer. I realize that I “flip my lid” when I reach the boiling point.”
“So when I get to simmer,” she continued, “now I take the deep breaths you taught me and review the parenting messages you gave me last week.” She takes out the list of parenting messages, looks at me, and tears up as she says, “I don’t feel like I got any of these messages. My parents never said any of these things to me.”
What Happened in Childhood is Now a One Person Challenge
I explain to Grace how it’s not so much about the words as it is about the energy. “Your parents gave you enough of that loving energy because you’re very high-functioning. But that younger self inside you needs to develop to maturity emotionally. What you didn’t receive when you were a child, you need to give to yourself now as an adult. No one else can do this for you.”
I encourage Grace to write the parent messages in her journal every day. “We’ll continue to work on them in therapy,” I assure her, “but you can begin giving them to yourself and feeling how they energetically land in your body as a sensation.” I give her a copy of The Secret to Loving Yourself: Profound Little Messages to Change Your Life, the book I wrote with my good friend and writing partner, Beth Bardovi. “This book will help you absorb these parenting messages deeply.”
My work combines body, mind, and spiritual awareness. We utilize breathwork and movement exercises designed to transform one’s inner state of being. I introduce Grace to a breathing exercise to use when she feels like she is reaching a simmering point.
“Your body is not meant to stay in a stress response so much of the time. This breath will help you return to presence, relax, center and tune in to yourself,” I say as I guide Grace to place both her feet flat on the floor, sit with a straight spine, and lifted chest. I then walk her through the following breathing exercise.
Tuning In Breathing Exercise
Place both hands on your belly below your navel.
Inhale through your nose to the count of 1-2-3, while pushing your belly out (like a Buddha’s belly).
Hold for a count of 1-2-3.
Exhale gently through an open mouth for a count of 1-2-3-4-5-6.
Inhale through your nose to the count of 1-2-3-4, making a Buddha’s belly.
Hold for a count of 1-2-3-4.
Exhale softly through an open mouth for a count of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.
Continue the same process.
As the session comes to a close, Grace murmurs, “I feel so soft and open right now,” as she touches her chest near her heart. She summarizes our time together and says, “I can see that if I give these messages to myself, I’ll be able to convey my love for my children to them because I feel more loving inside.” I smile and emphatically say, “YES, this will heal both you and them. It’s profound healing work.”
Ready to Change the Way You Relate to Yourself and Others?
If you are eager to learn more about the parent messages, I encourage you to read my book, The Secret to Loving Yourself, available on Amazon for both the US and Canada. This book will serve as a great tool as you continue to invest in your parenting skills and personal growth by learning how to practice awareness and self-attunement on an ongoing basis.
Additionally, I recently developed The Core Self Transformation, an online training, and introduction to the therapeutic work I do with my clients. I share several wonderful healing exercises in the course – the equivalent to several therapeutic sessions. With greater self-awareness and self-attunement, you will develop a deeper connection with yourself, your children, partner, and other important people.