We all know the cliché “There is no more difficult job we’ll ever do than to be a mother” However I’d suggest that there is another degree of difficulty that can be added to that, that is to be a mother without having had the benefit of good parenting yourself.
If you have come from a troubled home where abuse or mental illness went unchecked, you never knew what it was to have a soft place to land when you fell. Learning how to feather your own children’s nest can be so much more challenging as a result.
Along with all of the normal insecurities that come standard to motherhood, you may have the nagging fear about not knowing what the ‘right way’ to raise a family looks or feels like. Reading books and observing others helps, but it may not always create the sense of having a solid foundation of experience and security on which to build your mothering style.
In becoming a single parent, you may also find yourself battling the sub-conscious fear of abandonment. This can increase the strain of shared parenting, compounded by the fact that it’s not uncommon for people that have grown up with parents that didn’t provide them with the love and support that they deserved as children, to marry people that are equally unforthcoming with the mutual love and support a marriage partnership entails. So again the challenge of parenting is multiplied.
The fear of what we don’t know can feel overwhelming; However if you start with the premise that all children deserve unconditional love, you’re on the right track.
What Is Unconditional Love?
It is often but not always selfless. It is being there to meet the needs of our children, their emotional, physical and material needs.
It is also meeting our own needs and by so doing, modelling self-care (mental, emotional and physical) and self-love for our children. By modelling self-love, we give them tacit permission to love themselves and that is the essential ingredient that is missed in the upbringing of anyone that grew up in a troubled home.
Self-love means having respect for yourself and your needs and expecting no less from others, your children included; it means not being afraid to ask for help and support when you need it.
It’s about establishing healthy boundaries, not being afraid to say no to your children when ‘no’ is the appropriate answer.
It’s about accepting that for all of the sacrifices that parenting entails, that it is ultimately a gift. That every bit of love that you give to your child is a Balm that can soothe your own childhood scars.
With every act of love towards your children, you can learn to direct that love inwards as well as outwards, to comfort your own inner child, and reassure her that you are there for her now.
Healing Your Inner Child:
Meditating on this, using the imagery of sending love inwards and meeting your own inner child can be a wonderful way of advancing this healing process; spend some time with her every day finding out what she needs. We can’t go back and change the past, but we can certainly change how it impacts on our present and future.
Not Holding Onto Resentment Toward Your Ex:
Often a big challenge for the Divorced Mom is to manage feelings of resentment about the relationship her children may have with their Father in the years following the Divorce, yet there is one essential and often overlooked ingredient to them having a good relationship with their Dad, and that is that they don’t feel an ongoing resentment toward him for him leaving them with you!
Paradoxically a good relationship with their Dad can be evidence of the strength of their relationship with you. This isn’t to say that they idolise or are blind to his or your faults, but rather it demonstrates that they accept you both for who you are and they feel that they are safe and loved.
A Lack Of Fusion Is Best:
Sometimes like all parents, you may feel taken for granted, particularly when your kids enter their teenage years, this might be a potential trigger for your inner child to try to take over and become petulant and demanding. However, your children are again demonstrating that you have provided them with a sense of security and the knowledge that they have a haven to return to.
This may seem extraordinary to you because you didn’t have that, but as long as your children don’t cross the respect boundary is kept in place, it’s a good thing. The benefit of not being completely selfless comes into its own at this point, because by maintaining your own self-care and interests you will be less likely to feel fused to your children and therefore, will find it easier to accept that they will grow up and become independent individuals one day. This is the essence of a healthy relationship.
Your love for them was not an investment with the expected return of a life of absolute devotion from them, it was you providing what every child deserves and by so doing enabling yourself to grow as a human being.
You Are Up To The Challange:
Being a single parent with little positive life experience to draw on is indeed a challenge, but it is so worthwhile. Childhood passes by so quickly, from tiny baby to toddler, to kinder kid, the 1st day of school, school sports, plays, dances they all go by so quickly until one day it’s their last day of school and they are just about all grown up.
Don’t waste too much time worrying about what never was for you or what might have been, learn to enjoy every moment of the here and now that you can. Enjoy learning how to be the best version of you as a mom you can be and relish every moment. As tough as it sometimes is, it’s a gift. A gift that will teach you so much about yourself, an incredible lesson in learning that all the things you thought you missed out on were there inside you all along.
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