We Must Break the Cycle

As a peaceful parent I often get asked by other fathers for quick solutions to very complex problems.

What’s the simple answer? Do the work!

In order to resolve issues and solve problems, we must first try to understand what exactly is going on. Why as a father do I insist on having the same arguments with my children day in and day out? What is holding me back from trying to repair the chaos and find better ways? When we are over sensitive and reactive to our child’s disobedience it becomes very difficult to find solutions and we become unaware of how our actions might negatively impact our child’s emotional health. A big lesson I learned with my own family, was that when problems arise I needed to find solutions, instead of escalating the confusion. It was my job as a parent, but more importantly as the father to find solutions.

Even though it seems like centuries ago, I clearly remember how I would erupt into anger and speak to my children with contempt when they disobeyed. Since then, whether the issue was my child not wanting to brush their teeth or load the dishwasher, I made a conscious effort to help my them find a better way to get the task done. You will need the patience of a saint and a tremendous amount of practice. Once you remove the threats you can get creative to find alternate ways of making teeth brushing fun. Really simple tricks can be implemented like having them practice on a stuffed animal or instead of you doing the brushing let them try, even if ineffective. Either way you are removing any negative attachments and making it more enjoyable that will help them better understand the benefits of self care.

“When you become impeccable with your word, your mind is no longer fertile ground for words that come from black magic. Instead, it is fertile for the words that come from love.”

 Miguel Ruiz

I often hear parents complaining about their children. There is this common narrative that having a healthy and high nurturance family is unattainable. Fathers often joke that their kids are assholes and mothers can’t wait to go back to work. I get it, parenting is hard work! It doesn’t mean we avoid our responsibility or take the easy path. If we parent how we were raised, odds are you are unconsciously passing down psychological wounds that you never healed from your childhood. The great news is with support, hard work, and opening up this conversation, the positive results can happen quickly. Especially for fathers that have avoided this pain since childhood.

As new parents we are very receptive to any of our babies needs. We understand that they need to be fed, have their diapers changed, and get adequate sleep. Most parents understand these needs and usually do not let the cries from their baby cause them distress. They know how important it is that they provide these basic human needs, but as they grow things starts to change.

What typically happens is the child now starts to mirror patterns and behaviors that are all to familiar with his parents. This is a natural desire and the beginning of when a child needs to explore their new world. Because he can now say words and start to display preferences, as parents, we start to think he should understand what we say. We start to replicate the language and actions that were inflicted on us as a child. Though we love our parents and usually enjoy their company, this doesn’t mean we were not negatively affected.

A clear indication of how we were impacted is the emotional response we have from our child acting out. If we show discontent, frustration, and anger for the actions of our helpless 2 year old, that only desires to have love and acceptance from his parents, then we need a better plan.

In an attempt to get needs and preferences met the child reacts, not in the same way as a baby, but for the same reasons. This brings us back to our own childhood with the pain we felt and what we were denied as a child. The natural progression of a child is to grow, develop, and explore the world he was born into. Because the child will be strong willed, rebellious, and seem uncontrollable, the unhealed parent will see this as a threat. You will have pain and anger that was held in since childhood because you were once not allowed to display this independence. Unfortunately this is when the emotional abuse starts and in time this usually escalates into physical abuse since the parent now has the power that was once held over him as a child.

This moment might show up with your child being what you perceive as acting careless. Jumping off the couch and smashing onto the floor might get your blood boiling, but instead of over reacting you could place pillows to cushion the fall. Instead of your “wild” child feeling shamed for their natural inclination to be full of life, they can now feel whole without burying any negative feelings. This also allows you peace of mind because your child is safe and you took responsibility over the situation. This will encourage freedom with minimal suffering for both of you.

With ideas of love and family a common narrative that most children hear from their parents, the actions they witness sometimes display the exact opposite. The parents are now reactive and over controlling in order to protect themselves from this exact pain. This continues the cycle and has the child questioning if they are really the cause of all this pain. I mean, your parents love you and they know what’s best, right? This sets the stage with the child creating the false self.

In order to survive the child must suppress who they are and how they feel. In order to please the parents they learn to treat their natural desires as unimportant. They start to realize that if they simply obey, their parents will no longer withhold love from them. They also start to think there might be something wrong with them, that they are a bad person. They think, why else would their parents get mad all the time?

I often say the language we use is very important, especially how we speak about ourselves. The power to transform your homes comes from within. You have the opportunity to give your child the love that you were denied as a child and fully embrace this feeling now as an adult.

“It is only when we have the courage to face things exactly as they are, without any self-deception or illusion, that a light will develop out of events, by which the path to success may be recognized.”

Debbie Ford

I hope by opening up these conversations more fathers will be aware of how destructive their unawareness can be to their family. I hope more fathers will take better care of themselves to help lead their families in a healthier way. Right now is the time when we need fathers to be more engaged, more involved, and better role models for their children. When we can follow the “golden rule” and allow our children the freedom to be who they truly are, then we will start to see the rebuilding of healthy families.

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