When It’s Not About You

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I’ve talked in the past about how we as parents can have a huge influence over our child’s moods. When we wake up feeling grumpy, that can have a huge effect on our child’s well being. They reflect our mood back to us ten fold and we find ourselves in a negative cycle which can be really tough to break out of.

But what about when you wake up feeling wonderful and your child still isn’t happy?

Are you to blame?

I recently found myself in this very situation. I was feeling happy and enjoying life, yet my son was in the worst mood I had seen him in for a very long time. As I always do, I looked first to myself to figure out if his mood was somehow reflecting mine – perhaps unconsciously I was giving off negative signals.

But through self reflection and delving deep, I found nothing. It was then I realised something huge – This wasn’t about me. These feelings were coming from him and were his alone. I wasn’t responsible for them. This was a very freeing realisation because it meant that I could stop blaming myself for his mood, stop trying to control something entirely out of my control and instead simply be there for him and support him.

In the attachment/continuum/natural parenting world, I see others make the same mistake I did over and over again. We feel that because we have raised our children in line with their evolutionary expectations we should somehow get perfect results. But life isn’t like that – people aren’t perfect. You aren’t and neither is your child. But because we expect smooth sailing, we feel that we are doing something wrong when our child isn’t happy. And when we take responsibility for their feelings, not only are we setting ourselves up for failure, but we are making it about us rather than allowing them to own their feelings and find a way to work through them.

I still always recommend that if you are going through a rough patch, you check in to see what you as a parent are reflecting in your mood first, but then once you have done that, be open to the fact that it might not be about you.

As it turns out, in our case his feelings stemmed from saying goodbye to a good friend who was moving, some big changes at home and a rather horrible cold. Support from me helped. Guilt and blaming myself did not.

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