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A Brave New Way of Mothering

Sitting in the doctor's office waiting room, I could clearly overhear a mom interacting with her young child. They were practicing colors and letters. This could have very much been me as a young mom. I don’t want this to be about shaming this mom, but instead trying to share some insight I’ve found as I have learned, researched, and certified in emotional trauma and healing.

This mom followed a simple formula.

1- Talk in an authoritative tone.

2- Change her tone to a negative one when the child got something wrong - the more wrong tries, the more cross the tone.

3- Keep trying again and again until the correct answer was achieved.

4- A correct answer was rewarded with a smile and high-pitched words of praise.

5- on to the next

It has only been recently that this model started to sound like nails on the chalkboard to me. I’ll explain why.

As children exploring the world, we rely on the messages and repetition of our

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caregivers. A stern look sends an enormous message of acceptance and worthiness. Our young brains do not have the capacity to take in this information and assign it outside ourselves, to the action, or to the task. Children are completely self-centered. It’s the way they are biologically built. The negative tone used by this mom was taken in by this young child as an explanation about them as an individual - who they are, not what they did.

When I did my own internal work, I had to admit to myself that my desire to teach wasn't always rooted in my child's best interests. I had to come to terms with the fact that some of my motivation was rooted own ego (throw up in my mouth). I wanted my child to know their colors and number so that I looked good, and that was what the tones and looks were really all about.

So where does that leave us?

What is another way?

Look, it's not about the tones or looks necessarily. If we just change those things, we have not solved anything. The question is not "what" as much as it is "why". It takes some real sitting with and feeling into some uncomfortable emotions and thoughts playing out in sensations in our body that do not feel great. But, at the end of this sitting and feeling, we open up to a richer and more powerful way of being.

I found that after I had gotten real about my ego and how it ran the show, I was able to create more meaningful relationships. I could be genuinely happy for other mom's or anyone's triumphs. When my ego raises its gnarly head, I know. I am all too familiar with its rude sensations inside my body. These sensations have become my important signal. I have befriended them, and I am grateful for them.

For my last piece of mothering advice....

Love them. I know it is such a cliché for moms in my stage of life to say, but it is true! You cannot love your kids enough. Build the relationship with every interaction, and you cannot go wrong.

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