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Children Are Our Mirrors: A Parenting Perspective

Our kids. We spend a lot of time concentrating on how to raise them properly – how to give them a good foundation that will help them live happy, productive lives. We don’t spend a lot of time, though, thinking about what our children can show us, and it’s a lot.

If we’ve been parents for much time at all, we already know that our children mimic what we do and that knowledge affects how we interact with them. They do even more than that, however. They reflect not only our actions and speech patterns, they reflect what we need to work on, too.

This comes up often. For instance, a client recently was concerned about her kids not sleeping at night, but at some point, she became aware that she played a part in their sleeplessness she hadn’t considered. That’s when she asked me, “Am I creating a scenario in which the kids aren’t sleeping at night?” That’s when she and I really began to dive into that and ask the questions we needed to ask.

After all, moms really, really want to do a good job and sometimes, in trying to do that, we get all tied up and end up feeling like we have to be needed all the time. When that happens, we create and project that energy. We need to be needed and, consequently, we are.

Our kids wake up in the middle of the night because we need to be needed all the time. That’s when it’s time to ask the next question – to dive in and ask why. What has caused our value to be completely wrapped up in the identity of being a mom outside of the identity of who we are uniquely? When we’ve answered that question, we shift what we’re projecting to our kids and they begin to sleep at night

Our kids’ reflection can manifest in other ways, too. Sometimes, they will have something going on in their life that will cause them to be irritated, frustrated, or acting out in some way. Their behavior, then, triggers us. Our first instinct is often correcting their behavior instead of asking why the behavior is a trigger. The answer is pretty easy. The children are reflecting a behavior we haven’t addressed in ourselves, one that needs to be seen. It needs to be subjected to curiosity and be healed.

Our own reality is a mere reflection of our subconscious mind and eliminating beliefs. Kids can be that reflection. Sometimes, familial patterns communicate from generation to generation, or sometimes they might be something you’re already working on. Seeing them in our kids gives us the opportunity to see the situation in a new way and to determine what needs to happen to release and heal the pattern.

How do we identify those patterns? Often it’s simply a repetitive way a child responds to a stimulus.It could be a mood, or disrespect, or a tantrum, or acting out in other ways. There’s so many. it could be the words that they say, the phrases that they use. It’s our response that’s key.

To get to the bottom of it for everyone, when kids act out, we ask something like, “Wow, that is really interesting. Where did that come from?” When we start to ask questions, we begin to recall all the trauma that has gone unhealed since we were children ourselves.

The answer, then, is yes. When our kids act out, we do have a part in creating that situation. Not every time, but at least some of the time. Sometimes, my oldest son is going to bump into and run into situations to learn a lesson. That’s great. If I’m not triggered by it, if I have the opportunity to sit back and just allow him to have the experience, that’s not necessarily something that I need to work on. I can just observe it. I can have compassion for him and I can allow him to navigate his journey. If I’m triggered by it, however, that’s when I have to start asking the questions.

We’re all on a journey. We all are here to learn lessons and are creating experiences to use in the process. We have choices and free will. Our kids are individuals, too, and every individual has the opportunity to navigate through their own experiences. I can hold my seven-year-old’s hand, but if I’m triggered by it, if I’m frustrated by it, if I feel like I have to step in, if there’s a height and emotion around it, that’s where I need to kill it.

We don’t graduate into choice. My 18-year-old didn’t graduate from high school, and all of a sudden get the opportunity to create his own reality. He’s always had that opportunity. When we let our children create their own reality, the same way we’re creating ours, we get to teach them that they’ve had choices all the way along and that they’re making those choices.

If we constantly fix our kids’ problems, they never get to fix their own.It’s actually the most neglectful thing we can do. They have to fall down and, like us, have to learn how to stand up again. We have to fall. I’ll be there when they do – to guide and show the way and to love them all the way through. I don’t know any other way. My kids don’t either. I’ll help them, but they get to experience their own consequences and, by witnessing each others’ healing, we all get to come out whole on the other side.