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Article: The art of giving the child what you never had yourself

Familie mit zwei Kindern sitzt zusammen auf einem Bett

The art of giving the child what you never had yourself

What is it that turns young people into parents?

Since having children of my own, I've asked myself: When do we really become parents? What does it mean to fully assume this role? How does being a parent relate to your own history as a child? Can I only pass on what I have received myself? What if it's not enough? What if my child has needs that I cannot meet with the resources I have?

The definition of real, healthy parenting is so culturally, historically and socially diverse that we probably cannot make a general statement about what actually needs to be done to be a good parent. Even the countless guides in our western world do not agree on so many things. So it can't be about behaving "correctly" all the time and raising the child in a very specific way, can it? If I use the standard of right and wrong, I can only lose and never be a true parent.

For me, the title of this article describes the deepest dilemma that we as parents face every day in our everyday lives. None of us ever received everything we needed as a child to grow up fully healthy and fulfilled. The saying “no one gets through childhood unscathed” carries with it a deep, if painful, truth.

And despite all of this: Since time immemorial, parents all over the world have given everything they have and often more to fill the gaps and ensure that their children grow up healthy and happy.

We read guides and exchange ideas with others. We learn and practice and put our own needs aside. We struggle with a bad conscience and feelings of guilt. Get up every day to try again. The love for our children drives us to never give up.

Help create the future of children

We have also experienced what it means when our parents cannot provide everything our soul needs. Most people spend their entire lives as adults grappling with what they were missing. It makes people who they are.

How can we help break the constant transmission of the same patterns and injuries from generation to generation? How can you give the child what you yourself did not receive? What is the invisible source that can conjure up a “miracle”?

An important aspect is our focus: what we focus on grows. So focus on what you got, not what you're missing! Even if you were in a really miserable situation as a child, remembering the things that sustained you can help you tremendously today. If there was only one day in a whole year that was good for you, remember it as often as you can. That one handshake from a friend, that one loving look from your father, that lovingly delicious meal from your mother... it can be a real bright spot in your life. Decide to give this little sequence significant meaning. And: Always be aware that your parents' lack is also that of their own inner children. It wasn't your fault. Just as today it's not your child's fault if you can't offer something.

Also, connect with your deepest source of empathy. Remember your own experiences and at the same time realize that your child is someone completely different today than you were back then. In this way you can empathize at the same time and take new mental paths that lead away from your past and towards your child's future:

empathy

When you watch your child, who do you think he or she wants to be? Today, but also in the future? What are the differences from your own personality? Where do you have similarities? How can you best support it?

What can help you: Be present and listen with your heart. These two tools are probably the most difficult of all that parents deal with in everyday life. But it's worth practicing: As a guide, you can start by simply concentrating on listening and keeping an eye on your child for ten minutes a day. Feel your breath, feel your feet on the floor, take an active part in what your child tells you. In this way, you satisfy a basic need at the same time and get to know the soul of your offspring better and deeper. You can always be more with the child instead of projecting your own feelings onto them and perhaps even soften your own trigger feelings such as pressure and suffering in the process. I know: We often didn't get presence and attention from our parents. To give you a little support here, I have a special tip for you, a key point.

But before that, I would like to address one important point: community. Get other people on board. As a single person, you can never meet all of your child's needs. Some things may simply not be in you, others are deeply buried and need time to be brought back to the surface. Other things may simply not be within your control, but will have to be filled in automatically by another person. Your child really wants to play the piano and you are completely unmusical and have no money to give him lessons? Get creative! Who could make this dream possible for your child, to be encouraged in their musicality?

The point

The miracle is hidden here: you grow beyond yourself.

Here's an example: Maybe you didn't get enough physical closeness as a child. The need for touch is one of the most fundamental for growing up healthy. Now you may notice that you are having difficulty fully meeting this need of your child. You struggle with the consequences of your own deficiency, feel uncomfortable with touch, insecure, lack warmth or the ability to be fully with the child during touch and convey security.

As well as? Your own cells cannot remember and therefore have difficulty passing on information. But there is a wonderful trick for countless of these “defects”: We can imagine what it would be like if we had gotten all of these ourselves or were getting them today. With a lot of time, love and patience, we can let ourselves show and feel what it is like to be fulfilled in it.

Admittedly, it is a painful reflection process at times, but just knowing that it is fundamentally possible puts the goal within reach.

Step by step you will come closer to yourself and can meet your child's needs in your own healing path in a way that will permanently change both your story and your child's story.

Last but not least: Don't let superficial needs put pressure on you: Does your child really want this or that consumer good? Does it just want to eat sweets or stay awake until ten o'clock? You can relax: giving in everywhere is not what is meant by true satisfaction of needs. Behind the “I want” there is always a much deeper “I need” that the child is usually not even aware of. Your job is to get to the bottom of this “I need” and meet the deeper, real need.


If you would like to learn more about healthy eating, mindfulness or sustainability, check out more exciting blog articles on these topics here .

AUTHOR: SARAH ACKER

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