Ain't Nobody Got Time For Toxicity: Things I've Had To Let Go In Motherhood
One thing I have learned through therapy, everyone has had some trauma in their lives. Of course, some may look worse than others on the outside, but to the person affected by the ordeal, it's a big deal and can be life-altering. It isn't up to us to try and play down someone's trauma, and it's not up to us to play who had it worse with them. Chances are that as a child we have all had SOME moment that scared us, it may be from school, home, extended family whatever. Granted we can't change how we are brought up or what happened to us, but we can improve our attitude and let go of toxic behavior as we become adults. We should be breaking the cycle and not perpetuating any practices that can be corrected. It is especially important to do this once we become a parent to someone
I had to unlearn a lot of toxic, unhealthy behavior. It hasn't been easy but my children and doing better, they can express themselves without fearing consequences from me. So what are some of these unhealthy behaviors I have had to overcome?
Saying I am sorry to my children. Growing up I was just told "I am the adult, you do as I say" However, last time I checked we aren't perfect. Therefore when we make mistakes, we need to apologize for it. I make mistakes. I've spanked when I shouldn't have, yelled when I was overwhelmed to name a few. We need to apologize to our children by doing so; it teaches them that we can admit our mistakes and move on from them. We show them that we aren't perfect. I want to let my kids know that from the start, I want them to know that I will do everything I can for them. I will not have all the answers, but I will be right beside you educating myself on where to find the answers you need. One form of toxic behavior is having a big ego that you feel like your children are indebted to you since you created them. That is so far from the truth, and we need to make sure that when we do wrong by them, we let them know with love that we apologize and do out best to make sure it doesn't happen again.
If your kid speaks up, that is disrespectful. I have an almost-six-year-old, and he has his personality, he can't hide his feelings even if he tried. There are times that I request for him to do something and he may put up a fight with words. I use to be the same way growing up. I wanted to know why I had to do everything. That is what helped me process the world. Being told "Because I said so" wasn't enough. If I was irritated and I had an irritated tone in my voice I would get slapped for "Being disrespectful" think about that, your child is LEARNING the right way to communicate and live among others in the world. We are their teachers. As an adult, we have learned what is socially acceptable in the professional world when someone irritates us. When we are at home, we can feel secure because that is our safe place. So when my children object to something and their tone sounds a little off. I get down to their level, let them know that I appreciate them using their words, but we need to work on how we say it. I had to get over the toxic behavior and to scream at them "I am your mother you do as I say" The only way they will learn is if they make those mistakes and we as parents correct them. We must teach them to speak up for themselves and what better way to do this than with someone they can fully trust.
When your kid has a meltdown, they aren't doing it to embarrass you. I have learned there are MANY reasons a child will have a tantrum, but one reason they are NOT doing it is so they can embarrass you. Yes, people will stare at you, they will utter things like "My kid would never" "Why don't they just spank them" or any other unhelpful things as they pass by you. That, in turn, embarrasses you and so the adult takes it out on the kid. The kid is acting that way because they don't have the communication skills to elaborate on what made them act that way (they are hangry, tired, want to stay longer, can't find the right words, etc.) it is up to US as the adult to help them and guide them. How can we expect them to learn how to communicate the right way when you hit them every time "They stepped out of line or embarrass us" We went on a vacation and my son was in the pool with my husband. I had taken my daughter to our room so I could nurse her. As we were heading back, I hear screams. I already KNOW that is my son. As I turn the corner, I see my husband trying to get my son out of the life jacket that the cruise provided for the young ones for the pool. My son is wet flailing about like a fish, and I can see the frustration on my husbands face. That is my queue to step in and give him a break. I hand over our daughter, and I talk and calm him down. He didn't want to go, and but we needed to. Yes, there were a lot of stares because we were interrupting other peoples pool time but guess what I DIDN"T CARE! My goal in life is to make sure my son understands, and learn how to communicate his feelings the right way. I don't get embarrassed by his actions. There was a time that I did, yes people will judge you but at the end of the day, I am raising my son to be a healthy man able to articulate what he is feeling, and I know the people that he interacts with as he gets older will thank me for the patients I have given him now.
Just because it worked for you doesn't mean its not toxic to someone else. I can't tell you how many times I have heard " Well it worked for me and I am fine" REALLY? Are you though? You need a therapist just like I do; you don't trust people, you are scared to fall in love because you don't want to get hurt, etc. There are so many who continue the toxic parenting that was shown to them and the generations before them. It's ok to learn different ways to parent and raise children. Just because you do it different doesn't mean that you think you are better than your parents. Our parents and grandparent didn't have the information we have today. They didn't have studies that could back up what they were doing was right or what dangers were in store if they continued down that path. All they had was word of mouth and a few books to help raise their children. Back then children were seen and not heard, so were women and yet people fight for the rights of women to be equal every day. We have to break the cycle of causing out children lasting harm with toxic behavior.
There are so many great tools out there for helping not only yourself as a parent but also your children. The book How to Talk to so little kids will listen: A survival guide is a great book. It helps you really get into the way a child's brain works and how to reach them. Look into your neighborhood and see if there are classes on how to deal with certain behaviors and really learn how to work WITH your child and not against them. I know in the Tampa Bay area we have a program that is free is its the Postive Parenting Partnership(P3) They offer weekly classes to help teach you ways to communicate and deal with behavior that is normal for many young children. Above all else deal with YOU as a parent. Reading self-help books on getting rid of your own toxic behavior as well as looking for a therapist to help you as well. You can't pour from an empty cup. We also need to take care of ourselves.
My main goal in life is to raise children that don't have to recover from their childhood. It's not an easy job, but it is a rewarding one. I look at raising them as a group effort. My husband, children and I have to work as a team. When you are a part of a team there are moments when you lead and follow. moments you teach and are taught. There is NO room for toxic behavior. I am still learning and have to battle things that were ingrained in me at a young age but I am willing to do the work.