When a Mom is Discouraging - A Parent Coach Coaches Herself
By jsassoon on January 08, 2009
I just got off the phone with my mom. She called to say hello and to update me on my dad's upcoming visit to Israel. We chatted a bit and I asked her whether or not she read my latest post/article on my weblog www.getreal-coaching.com. She was featured in the article and I thought that she would appreciate reading it.
She said that she read the post ("Turn Baby Turn") and all she could focus on was the fact that she could not remember the story. I knew that she wouldn't - only because she tends to forget details like that. I told her that the details of the story were not important, whereas the message that I received from her - her supporting me by allowing me to make my own choices - was very powerful and had a tremendous impact on me as a teenager.
It was as if she heard none of what I was saying. She kept returning to the point of her not remembering and went on to question whether or not my articles are really having an impact on people; and went on to question whether or not I should be sharing them with the world.
Well, that did it. I felt my body cringe and get hot. I felt my throat closing up. I did not want to speak with her. I wanted to end the conversation as quickly as I could.
What prompted me to feel this way?
I felt so discouraged by what she was saying. All I wanted to do was get off the phone and end my conversation with her.
I love my mom. We have a complicated relationship. Sometimes she can be so supportive. I know that she loves me and thinks that I am very talented.
I also know that I cannot be fully open with her; that there are times when I feel discouraged by the things that she says to me. There are times that she does not listen to me or give me the support that I require the way that I require it. Which, in turn, makes me not want to open up to her or even trust her at times.
It makes me sad. If only I can teach her the tools that I teach to parents and teens on how to build healthy, strong, open, loving, and long-lasting relationships. (Maybe I should try. I know that she did not mean to hurt me and I know that she truly does love me. But is she open to change??)
When I got off the phone with my mom, besides for feeling discouraged, I also felt angry and hurt.
I personally discovered why kids, when they feel discouraged, can misbehave. According to Jane Nelson, world renowned author and speaker on Positive Discipline, children misbehave when they feel discouraged.
I am an adult. I am aware of what support I require, and am able to express it and access it when I require it. I also know how to cmmunicate my feelings in a healthy way.
But most kids do not. Most kids, when they feel discouraged, get angry (just like we do) and express it by throwing a tantrum, fighting, giving up, ignoring us, or any other way that reinforces the idea that "I am not good enough."
(Now I know why I get that evil voice in my head at times that keeps telling me that I'm not good enough. Good thing that I have the tools to move ahead and get beyond this, and a very supportive and encouraging husband and circle of friends. It does come in handy!)
So how will I move on from this?
What positive message can I take away?
I am going to think about whether or not I do the same thing with my own kids. I am going to ask myslef whether or not I say things that are discouraging. I will do a self-observation of this for two days and see what I learn.
I will also make a list of the ways I can be encouraging to my own children (and spouse!)
What are some encouraging messages? Hmm, let's think...
Well, each time I look at my kids, before I say anything to them, I will think and say in my head: "I believe that you are beautiful, lovable, and capable." And express that to them when it is appropriate. I will think about how much I cherish them. I will focus on their strengths and qualities. I will listen, really listen to what they are saying and the feelings that accompany what they say. I will ask them what support it is that they require.
...I have to stop now. I am feeling overwhelmed with how much I love my kids.
Writing this helped me move forward (from a place of anger and pain, to a place of love and happiness) in such a healthy way. I feel so lucky to be doing what I do for a living!
What, if anything, did reading this do for you?
Get REAL (tm)
Respect yourself; find
Appreciate your unique gifts and strengths;
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