Taking On Our Children's "Stuff"
Updated: Jan 10
The discussion at our October Circles related to the existential question of whether or not we, as moms, can separate from our children's stresses, struggles or pains. Do we take our kids' "stuff" and carry it around in our bodies to the point where it gets in the way of our own lives? Is taking on our kids' pains a "maternal " instinct or is it simply a matter of who we are as individuals?
The ladies had this to say:
*It's very normal to take on our kids baggage wearing our hats as loving and compassionate moms. It's an automatic response. However we must be super mindful that we do so from a place of support and not fear from our own personal childhood experiences. We may have had a similar experience, like being bullied, as an example, but we must remember we're different parents than our own parents and our kids are different from who we were.
*The use of cell phones and social media has accelerated communication and accessibility between parents and their kids. We tend to know more about what's going on in their lives because it has become so easy for them to get to us! As parents, it can feel like a constant stream of real time complaints and problems from our children. Our generation was never able to communicate to our parents as quickly when we were young.
*This 24 hour communication access seems to pave the way to helicopter parenting. The sheer stress on parents trying to help their offspring in need, facilitates our desires to take on our children's stuff in order to get rid of it quickly and get it off our plates! It's a disabling dilemma!
*Todays kids (and some adults) seem to operate under the misconception that there is such a thing as a stress, struggle and pain free life. As soon as they come up against a problem or any form of resistance, they often believe their worlds are falling apart and there should be an instant fix. We, as their parents, usually hear about the problems and or see indicative behavioral changes and get sucked in alongside of them. We have got to remember that stress is a part of life. We must help to teach our kids coping skills and recognize their resilience!
*It's most important to realize our children's struggles and suffering belong to them and not us. What they need from us is total love and support--not someone to walk by their side carrying the same painful emotions.
So "sponging up" our kids stressors is a normal maternal reaction. The ladies had the following suggestions for how we can avoid carrying our children's loads on top of our own so we don't go down with the ship:
*We have to accept and acknowledge that negative, painful stuff will always rear its head at one point or another in our families' lives. We must remember IT'S NEVER AS BAD AS IT SEEMS! We can't live in constant flight or flight mode. It's not healthy for anyone.
*Remember, while your kids appear to be struggling, they have you to guide and support them. Knowing that goes a long way to comforting them and creating a safe net for them to fall into. You don't need to be the net, you need to hold the net up for them.
*We must learn to do a better job at putting our phones and computers away and not wearing them 24/7. We need to make it a little harder for our kids and us to have instant access. That will result in receiving fewer SoS calls or texts -- those pings that can feel like punches to our guts, as a result. Setting up social media boundaries is a huge priority!
*Trust in yourselves and your parenting skills and have faith. At the very least we must show our kids we truly believe in their ability to work things out.
*It's imperative to believe in your parenting skills, your children, and the resiliency of the human spirit. You made it through and so will they.
*Foster independence in your kids at a young age.
*Learn the very difficult but rewarding art of LETTING GO! Release and clear the stressors from your body in total trust!
*Always, always use prayer to aid your efforts
* If your child comes to you feeling that his or her world is crashing in, and you feel yourself ready to take on the pain, try asking your child if they want advice, or just a sounding board. You can also just simply ask them what you can do to help. This will often diffuse the panic and emotion from seeping into your body as well as your child's.
*The journey of life is a learning experience. Try to avoid the often used phrase "why is this happening to me/us?"
Are you a sponge for your children's woes? Could you do a better job of letting go? We'd love to hear your suggestions below.