So without furthur ado, February's guest post comes from Kim....
We all have our demons. The things about ourselves that we wish we could change or pieces of our personality we aren't proud of. It has taken me a long time to realize that all of my little ones stem from one major theme. Fear. I fear unknowns. I fear change. I fear being a person I can't respect.
What is truly ironic about our demons is that we often despise those traits in others. Why is that? Why are we so judgmental of something we should have more empathy for? I look at someone who has fears, specifically those that hold them back in life, and it makes me a little ill. I don't want to be around it. It makes me angry. How can that be? Shouldn't I be able to relate and therefore want to comfort the person? And what's worse, what if you recognize those traits in your own children?
You may recall that I wrote about being able to relate to our children. But what if those things that we should be most compassionate about, are the very things that we hate within ourselves?
I can't imagine that anyone truly in touch with their emotions hasn't felt this way at one point or another. Because one of the worst parts of parenting is passing on our negatives. If you smoke your children are more than twice as likely to begin smoking than those who don't. Abusers often raise abusers. But is nurture always to blame? Are some traits deeply embedded in us, regardless of parenting and influences?
My daughter has a lot of fears. Many of which she keeps deep inside and doesn't share. But I'm her mother, I know it. I can see it. Mostly because I recognize it from my own childhood. And I won't lie, it bothers me. It pains me and upsets me and makes me want to scream. Because I don't want her to be like me. I don't want her fears to hold her back. But how do you explain that to a five year old? Especially when you struggle with it yourself? And how do you parent without judgment or allowing your emotions to take over? Especially when that emotion is negative?
I find the best way is to slow down, try hard to remember what I would have wanted my mother to do and find some variation that will not coddle MK or hinder her ability to push through her fears. Oh, but it's hard. Because in the rest of my life I have simply been able to avoid someone who expressed traits I didn't like. Not when it's your child though. I'm now forced to deal with my demons head on. And in so many ways, I think that this is my greatest challenge, because it forces me to re-evaluate my own demons and how they have been holding me back. So that I am parenting by example and not “do as I say, not as I do”.
I won’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions. But I will say that it is a struggle for me. I work extremely hard to overcome my fears, and other negative traits, so that I don't pass them onto my children. Am I always successful? Of course not. I haven't perfected this parenting thing, let alone being a human being. But I work at it. And I often reflect on what I need to improve - a major part of my writing, in fact - and take strides to get where I want to be. Because I really believe that is how life is meant to be lived. A constant search for a better way. I believe that life gives us exactly what we can handle and that what we are handed we need to be stronger. It fixes our flaws. I think that it’s important for us, as parents, to face those demons head on, and what better way than to present themselves in the people we love most dearly in this world. So that we can work on them together. Because I may be the mother, but my children have a lot to teach me as well.