When I became a parent, I mean the instant my son was born, I became insanely vulnerable. I felt it. It was a sudden rush over my entire being.
I experienced a depth of love I had never known before. The thought of any harm coming to my son was unthinkable' it hurt, ached, and was incredibly painful just to think of the smallest of things happening. Reading stories of other children incurring pain and hardship triggered deep heartache.
All at once I was in a position of deep deep vulnerability; emotions were amplified to a level of extremes and these emotions came out in ways that were new to me.
- Intense love. Some could have called it smothering (oh the kisses and snuggles and hugs).
- Fierce protection. Some could have call it overreacting (GET AWAY FROM THE ROAD! WATCH YOUR HEAD! DON'T TOUCH THAT!)
At the time my son was born, I was already on my emotional intelligence journey, and what I knew is that I needed to get my shit together so that, I would not become a parent that actually smothered their child, gave participation ribbons, or helicoptered for safety. My journey included looking toward 3 key areas within emotional intelligence:
1. Reality testing
2. Impulse control
3. Emotional expression
Becoming a parent is a balancing act between our reptilian brain and our emotional limbic brain. As a parent, you are now responsible for another human life, and this creates a depth of vulnerability that we may have never experienced before. This easily triggers emotional responses that we also have never experienced before, perhaps have never identified or focused on, but were lying dormant until this very moment. And now we have to deal with them. And deal with them quickly before we ruin our children.
I'm serious about this statement; ruin our children. When we react emotionally in parenting, it is the child who gets the brunt of it.
When our emotional baggage negatively impacts the way we parent, the damage is done to the child.
When we carry forward lessons that negatively impacted our self-esteem into our parenting, the damage is done to the child.
When we use regrets from our life choices and directions, into our parenting choices, the damage is done to the child.
When we see the opportunity to fulfill our life dreams through our children, the damage is done to the child.
It is important, as a parent, to take care of yourself first, to develop your emotional intelligence, so that you can be diligent in parenting for the child or children that you have. Not for the child that you once were or wish you were or feel sorry for or are trying to protect.
I know. I've been there.
I've worked through the pain of trusting someone to watch my son because I was molested as a child.
I've worked through forcing my son into sport after sport, competition after competition, because that's what I loved doing.
I've worked through driving him to be the student with the highest grades because that's the lessons I was given as a child (which falsely drove my worth).
I've worked through 'should-ing' my son into anything.
And instead I've learned to take the lead from him. I pay attention. And all of my parenting know how is built upon supporting, encouraging, teaching, giving lessons when they are needed, asking questions, being curious about who he is discovering he is, establishing the safety for him to talk to me about anything, allowing him the space to fail and being there when he needs a hug without being the one to pick him up, giving him the skills for resiliency and persistence, teaching him to self-soothe and manage his emotions, holding him accountable to being a good person, leading by example for kindness and compassion, providing him the space to have a voice and exercise it respectfully.
The reaches of emotional intelligence are vast and deep. I'm here to help.