Did you receive all the mothering you needed as a child? How do you know?
Is there something missing for you?
During a recent episode of Iyanla Vanzant’s SuperSoulSunday series Fix My Life, I watched Iyanla coach a young woman who is a product of our time.
Erica Jean made herself available as the occasional ‘hook-up’ for Saigon (aka Brian) a rapper who has became famous for a while on network television (Love and Hip Hop) and mainstream social media.
Both people had never really taken the time to know each other, had regular sexual encounters over a number of years and then Erica Jean had decided in her mid-thirties that it was time for a child. One drunken night Brian agreed and so their son Steven came into existence.
On their reality tv show at the time it was possible to see their continued fights and disconnection (with their young son in observance), Erica Jean’s need to be seen and feel better about herself with body enhancements and sexually suggestive pictures on Social media…followed by a backlash from Brian with a video posted online of Erica Jean performing a sexual act with him. (She hadn’t agreed to this level of exposure).
The mothering missing piece? Parenting when we have missed out
One of the approaches Iyanla took was to offer Erica Jean the pieces of mothering she had missed out on in her own life. Erica Jean’s mother had passed away a few years previously.
This offering was made not in judgement, simply as an offering of help to enable Erica Jean to move on, heal and grow.
This got me to thinking…and having a conversation with my two girls in the car on the way to school this morning. I spared them the details above…had a chat about how mothers offer their daughters the best they can – yet sometimes the missing pieces of mothering are left out, intentionally or otherwise.
I realized while talking to my two girls that one of the ways we can help the next generation as parents is to identify our missing pieces while we are parenting our children.
How to start parenting consciously when we know we have missing pieces
In some ways moving to the USA as a Brit before I started a family truly helped me to do that.
I was faced with different parent approaches not only from my husband – who is from a very different style of family than myself – but also from female peers and friends who parented in a way that was completely normal for them…yet from a completely different culture for me!
Initially I tried to parent the way my mum did. She spent most of her parenting life in one house, in a small British village with shops/stores a few miles away.
I soon discovered that being married to a Navy guy away on deployment (and then moving house from Virginia Beach VA to Lemoore California when my first daughter was 4 months old) did not match with my learned parenting approach (peace, quiet, fixed routine!).
As hard as it was, I learned to make adjustments, initially unwillingly and with difficulty. I often joke with friends that I may be the only woman to have pumped milk whilst driving over the Hoover Dam.
It was really hard to travel all that way with a 4 month old and then set up a new house in a new State. At that time CA felt like a whole new country to me…I had only spent 18 months in Virginia Beach yet had grown to love it. I love beach towns and cities!
One of my first parenting breakthroughs – question the program
One of my first breakthroughs was to realize that I didn’t have to bathe the children in the evening all the time…which is one of my toughest times of the day for energy levels with me – or do anything in a fixed routine if it didn’t work.
This was a big breakthrough for me and I began to consciously notice what I liked most about the parenting styles I saw around me and combine those with the many wonderful things I had enjoyed about my mother’s parenting. Then I began to grow more confident and create some new approaches of my own!
Change the program – try new parenting approaches
So…all is not lost if there are pieces missing from our parenting awareness. We can learn to change, move on and give our children what they need in new ways. And, in fact, we need to change in order to give them what they need for the next seven generations…
And Erica Jean? At this stage in her life she wasn’t ready to reconnect with Brian in order to create a functional co-parenting team. She also wasn’t ready to stop posting suggestive pictures of herself on social media since it was connected with a business she is running.
Still working on my missing mothering pieces…and plan to give the girls everything I can think of. That’s one way to stop unhelpful parenting patterns being passed on…
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