Parenting through trauma
Navigating tragedy can be so tricky. And when you're a parent of a child who has been through the worst, how do you show up? We can only speak to the way that our family has shown up for each other in hopes that it may offer perspectives and insights. The most important thing any of us can do is our own personal work and healing. We are so often products of our environment and don't even realize where we have room for growth and change. When we are willing to look in the mirror and contend with our reflection, we can hold space in a much healthier way when a loved one needs us. Sometimes, other persons, pain can trigger our own wounds. When this happens, we meet tragedy with defensive energy and can have a difficult time seeing through our own pain. Becoming so aware of who we are and how we move through the world will go such a long way when our children are trying to figure it out for the first time. We process our emotions through the relationships we cultivate. When we can heal ourselves first, we can become first responders to our children.
As a parent, we have to walk the fine line between being a cheerleader and the cleanup crew. We all want to celebrate the lives of our children, and often value our own success based on our perception of theirs. What we often miss are the tremendous life lessons lurking in the shadows. Cheerleading is always going to feel better than cleaning up messes, but what happens when a shit storm sends our Pom poms off the cliff and leaves us consumed with fear? We all need to be ready to dive in and stand by.
The greatest gift we can give our children is the space and freedom to allow them to show us who they are. We unconsciously try to sculpt them Into mini versions of ourselves, but that's only violently yanking them from their own pilgrimage. Remember when you were young and knew everything, and remember having your dreams squashed or ridiculed. What dreams are still living deep in your bones, undiscovered, and un-answered? Start there now! Do your work and when your child is in the worst possible nightmare, become their soft place to land. Make your home a place where it's safe to share feelings and emotions, where just being together without words feels like a balm. Become that person that can scan a room and see what needs to happen to lift the pressure. Is it a sink full of dishes, dirty floor unfolded laundry? Or maybe it's a shoulder to lean on while tears are being shed. Understanding emotions, and working with the ones that show up is so important. We often label certain emotions as bad or uncomfortable. But if we help explore them, great healing will take place!
We have to have the courage to navigate discipline and allow the natural consequences to play out. If we rescue our kids from their mistakes rather than hold their hand through them, we stunt their growth and send the message that they can't handle hard. What we have learned is that self-care is a priority; therapy saves lives, and finding ways to be connected outside of social media is like taking a deep breath. We know that everyone has a unique struggle, and the answers for us may not work for everyone. When we are willing to sit around the fire and share stories, we find connection, healing, and love. At the end of the day, it's the most basic human need that we all have in common. This, is what we call the Art of Joy!