“Of Course…”

Do you know the feeling of wilting under your own frustration about how you parent? I ask because in my experience as a mom and a friend of many moms, I can say with certainty that it’s a very common frustration.

Last week, I had an online therapy session with a mom of two high schoolers. Her guilt and regret about her reactivity and anger when her kids were younger is always just below the surface when we talk. Yet, now she is rising up with courage and skill, having powerful, connecting conversations with her teenagers. She is bravely going where few dare to go when it comes to having open conversations with her kids about nicotine, weed, alcohol, and relationships. Her kids are learning that mom is a safe homebase when it comes to talking about the hard stuff. This mom is rising up and finding the courage to change her ways which is leading to closer relationships with her kids than she had dared to hope a few years ago.

Another client from this week has young children. When she was growing up, her mom was bossy and invalidating. And guess who now struggles with invalidating her own kids? Those patterns of behavior get wired into our brains and it takes work to change them. But this mom is facing her fears by meeting with me every week to rise up and find the courage to be a different mom than her mom and her mom before her. It is beautiful to watch.

Have you felt that powerful force in you where you love your children so much that you are willing to rise up, face what gets in your way, and do what it takes to give your kids the strong, loving parent you want them to have?

Never doubt that you can rise, even when you feel like you are failing. You are here to rise. That deep, primal, powerful love for your kids is a one-of-a-kind call to find the best version of yourself. So what does that look like? It starts with an “of course.” Then you fill in the blank with whatever you do that frustrates yourself. It might sound like this:

❥ “Of course you get triggered when your boys are so angry.”
That makes sense if you didn’t grow up with healthy messages around anger.

❥ “Of course you invalidate your kids.”
That makes sense if you grew up being invalidated by others.

❥     “Of course you get overwhelmed by all the noise and chaos in a house full of kids.”
That makes sense because, well… it’s kids and they’re noisy and chaotic which can be overwhelming.

The “of course” skill is just the beginning, but it’s an important one. We can’t shame ourselves into kinder parenting; the key is to nurture ourselves there. If we can have even a wee bit more compassion for ourselves, it’s easier to find a wee bit more compassion for our kids.
The “of course” skill can also be practiced on our kids. If we can validate their experience before anything else, then we can correct without losing connection with them. It might sound like this:

❥ “Of course you’re upset about that.”
See them in their discomfort.

❥     “Of course that was hard.”
It’s so easy to go straight to reacting, but what we all need first is empathy.

❥     “Of course you didn’t like when your sister did that.”
Focus first on the one who was offended or hurt.

Of course parenting is hard. Of course none of us are doing it perfectly. Of course we all get triggered at times. As you tackle the challenges of being a parent, know that Palmer and I are here, sending love and thinking lovingly, “of course.”

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Kerry Stutzman
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