When we begin any personal development work, often we start by looking at our family background, our nationality and our culture to see how we have been conditioned, to understand what beliefs and attitudes influence us. We can spend a long time exploring how our parents brought us up, what love we did or didn’t get, what gifts and qualities we inherited, and so on.
Of course, it’s easy to blame mum and dad for anything we don’t like about our self; it’s easy to criticise. Bottom line is our parents, and we as parents, do the best we can. We have good days, and sometimes we have not such good days.
My mum was very much a hands-on mother. She lived for her family by giving, and doing. She took her responsibilities seriously and that was her choice. That’s how it was for her generation. My mum is a beautiful soul, and I admire her sense of commitment.
Since our parents are our role models, often we parent our children as they did, without thinking, until we realise that something is not working and we consciously choose differently. What I am learning about mothering from taking care of my children is that, as they get older, by choosing not to help my children, I actually help them to grow. By choosing not to help, I support them to make their own choices as to how to be their best.
Taking care of others can fill a need to be needed, a need to be loved. And it can be harmful in that it denies others the opportunity to learn to take responsibility for self and make their own choices.
We can change care-taking patterns by focusing on what we want to achieve as a parent and setting healthy boundaries. My intent as a mother is to guide and assist my child to become an adult – not to be their friend. Of course, as with all habits, it can be tricky. Our subconscious perception can jump in and tell us that we are being mean, selfish, unloving… The conflict is that as a mother ‘I am supposed to take care of my child’! And when we become emotional and imagine all sort of worst-case scenarios, it’s all too easy to renege, to cave in. When that threatens to happen, I go into my heart, feel the knowing that what I’m doing is for the highest good of all, hold fast to it, and then tell my mind that what I am doing is the most loving thing a mother can do.
Letting a child go, encouraging him or her to discover who and what they can become, is one of the most loving things a parent can do for a child. Allowing our child the freedom to be who they are and not looking to him or her to validate who we are is , for me, pure love.