Meeting your needs so that your children can flourish
When I was growing up I learned, that to be loved, I needed to meet the needs of others. That, along with a style of parenting common at the time, left me with a belief that my needs were conditional or didn’t matter.
As I grew into a young adult, I like many adults, had lost touch with my needs. When asked what supported me both internally and externally in my first months of psychotherapy training, I realised I had no idea.
It has taken me a long time to learn to connect and support myself both before having a child and now as a parent. I notice that when I receive more support and my needs are met, I parent more gently and with greater empathy and connection.
In this busy world with ever-increasing pressures, I wonder whether you are able to meet your needs? I wonder what your support structure looks like? Does it feel like it is enough? I wonder if you notice that when your needs are not being met, you might respond to your lovely children in ways that you regret or promised yourself you would never do?
Parents’ needs matter, in fact, meeting parents’ needs is just about the only way that allows you to respond and be with your child in a connected, compassionate, and authentic way.
In fact, it is almost impossible to give to your child unless you are giving to yourself. When we give to ourselves we are able to naturally give to our children. This is when parenting moves from surviving with our children into helping them to flourish.
Learning to connect with yourself, as a parent, can be especially hard if your parents saw obedience and respect as important to ensuring you fitted into society. This type of parenting does not value children’s yeses and nos and as a result, it may now be hard as an adult to know exactly what you need.
If you are able to listen to your past hurts you may find that you become more connected with what is important to you, what you value, and what keeps you alive inside.
And as we connect with who we are; what supports us; what we want to do, be and say, we are again more likely to become more in touch with ourselves and as a result our feelings and our needs. As we connect more deeply and the suppressed past emotions are released it may enable a feeling of energy and aliveness to return.
I’m wondering if you know what you need? Often what we most want in terms of support from the outside world can be an indicator of what we most need to give ourselves. Do you need more rest, more time to do things that inspire you, would you like more connection with friends and or more nourishing food?
When we are able to start filling our own cup, our presence with our children carries a different energetic connection and as a result, their cup becomes full. As theirs becomes fuller they may be able to spend more time doing something they are interested in and so we have more time again to fill our own cup. And the reverse can also happen, when our cups as parents aren’t filled, it can become easier to feel resentful of our children’s needs.
Often the external world reflects our internal experience. Our children can offer this reflection by mirroring the unhealed parts in ourselves. In doing this they give us a gift to see clearly what needs to be healed in ourselves.
When our needs aren’t being met and our children mirror the unhealed parts in ourselves it can be harder to see the gift and instead we may fall into blaming them for the reminder.
There are ways to help you connect back with what you need and help you release emotions from the past and I wonder if any of the following suggestions sound possible?
- Empathy partner: Finding a friend or therapist who can give you unconditional love and empathy
- Needs list: Making a list of your needs and checking which ones are being fulfilled and which ones not and taking simple steps to see if you could do a little to start meeting some of them
- Taking me time: Taking 10 minutes during the day and connecting in with yourself (setting a timer helps to really focus on this time). During this period you can give yourself some unconditional empathy, look out the window, or have a cup of tea in a hammock.
Starting to become aware of your needs as a parent is likely to help you be able to parent with greater connection and empathy.
I have created a Virtual Village as part of what I offer to support parents. It is a place where parents can come that is safe and where they can receive unconditional empathy and ask questions. Please contact me if you are interested in knowing more. To join the group you will need to have done a workshop or session with me.