Parenting Without Guilt- Free Your Child and Free Yourself
A Child's Innocence
The most important concept to think about when beginning your lifelong path as a parent is that A CHILD DOES NOT COME INTO THIS WORLD CARRYING YOUR BAGGAGE. Children do not comprehend the life you have led, the pain you have lived through, the emotions that you feel, or even the circumstances in which they were created.
A child has not lived enough life to fully understand the idea of you being stressed. He does not know the sacrifices you make, as a parent, to give him the home he lives in, the clothes he wears, or the food he eats. A child does not articulate what is giving him frustration, concern, or anger using words that carry the same meaning that you, as an experienced adult, have given them.
Imagine coming home from work. Your boss gave you more work to pick up the slack for someone else not doing their job. You found out your company is down-sizing and everyone's job is now in jeopardy. Someone cut you off as you were driving home. You are exhausted. Your wife has planned a date night that you aren't really in the mood for. You walk in the door and you hear your child playing in his room and he says, "I don't have any good toys, I have the worst life ever."
Without understanding the concepts of a child's innocence, you immediately get angry. You get up early, you drive to a stressful job, you work all day and most nights, you give up the things you want to do for yourself, and your own life was full of heartache and abuse so how dare he think this is the worst life ever!
If you can stop yourself at this very thought and understand only what your child is capable of understanding. It will look completely different to you. You will remember that your child has not worked as an adult, you have shielded him from stress and abuse because you strive to make his life better than yours, you have made every sacrifice to ensure your child has never seen the "worst life ever." Yet, when he makes this statement suddenly you expect him to have the same comprehension of life that you have.
Explanations Without Guilt
If you barge into his room, raise your voice, and yell at your child telling him how hard you work to give him those toys. You make sure he hears how you don't do anything you want to do because you have to work all day. You tell him how you didn't have any toys when you were a child. You tell him your own father made you work from the time you were seven years old or he wouldn't let you eat dinner. You spend the next 15 minutes unloading all of your life experiences onto your child.
Let me assure you that the only message your child is getting is one of confusion and that he has done something horribly wrong because you are yelling at him. He has labeled himself as the reason for everything bad that has happened to you throughout your life. Guilt.
Walk away from this situation until you can clear your own mind. Get yourself back to the place in your heart and mind that knows only what your child knows at this point in his life. If you feel there is a lesson that life will not teach him when he is older and capable of understanding, then go to him after the current situation has passed. Have a conversation with your child about how "cool" his toys are and how he is very lucky to have toys because there are children in the world who don't get any toys at all. End of discussion. Anything longer or more convoluted and your message will be lost. You have explained that there are worse situations in life without putting the weight of your personal baggage onto the shoulder's of your child.
Another way to handle the lesson is to know that someday life will show him what he needs to see. Let life happen and be there to support and offer explanations along the way. Use your life's knowledge to find new ways of guiding and teaching the lessons you have learned on your own journey without expecting your child to fully understand until he is able.
Robbing Your Child
By forcing your life experience onto your child you are robbing him of his own life. Handling the situation above with guilt has taught your child that work and sacrifice for his family later in life is something to dread. By hearing his words based on your life experiences and forgetting to consider his limited understanding of the world around him and the words he chooses, you have shown him that expressing his opinion is very bad. Worse, you have shown him that voicing his opinions around YOU is bad. You have started the downward spiral of fear and guilt based parenting that creates a lack of trust between you and your child that you can never get back.
Teaching your child this lesson based on your jaded sense of reality steals his innocence. It takes away the pure happiness and joy that he may have gotten later in life from working hard to provide for his family because you have given him a lingering thought in the back of his mind that providing for a family is a burden.
Instead of simply showing your child that he doesn't have the "worst life ever" in a way that he can understand you are blaming him for your life. Being thankful for the things in your life and choosing to celebrate the joys of raising your family teaches your child by example. Children naturally want to be just like you. Taking a deep breath, focusing on the here and now, and remembering the innocence of your child will not only benefit your child but it will also give you a different aspect of life and the people around you.
When you choose parenting with guilt you are robbing yourself. You are stealing from yourself the coalescence of all your hard work and all your sacrifices. When you allow your child to become who they are without the burden of making up for your childhood, your choices, and your heartache you are reaping the best gift you can receive.
Some day your child will grow up. He will get a job that brings on the stresses and exhaustion of work. He will likely have his own family to make sacrifices for. Not until he has his own life experiences, will he fully comprehend them in the way you do. When you spend your life building a relationship of love and trust without the guilt you will have fostered a bond with your child that allows him to express his opinions to you without fear.
Without allowing that very freedom of expression with your understanding, you will rob yourself of that beautiful moment when you child grows up and tells you for the first time that he NOW understands everything you did for him when he was growing up. Not until this very moment can he be aware of what you spent your life doing for him. You cannot force that comprehension onto your child.
What Happens When You Forget?
Most of us are not used to remembering only what we knew as a child. Most of us grew up being told of the hard work and sacrifices our parents made in a way that made us feel guilty about coming into this world. So its natural that our first reaction will be to do the same. When you forget, go back and apologize. When you are able to apologize to your child you show him that you are human and you make mistakes. When you accept responsibility and learn from your own mistakes in front of your child you give him the ability to do the same. If you never show this side of yourself, you never make it alright for your child. When he sees you learning from life, he will continue to learn from life. If he only sees that you've made yourself infallible, he will assume that at some point in life he is suppose to be the same. You are passing along an unattainable goal. The reality is life is a continuous series of changes and events that we learn from until the day we die. Showing your child any other reality is cheating them of the confidence to live life, make mistakes, learn from them, and move on.
Living by example, teaching without inclusion of your baggage, and remembering your child's limited experiences and understanding creates parenting without guilt. Parenting without guilt allows you to create a bond of trust with your child. Trust builds a confidence in your child to go out into the world and have his own experiences. These experience will belong solely to him, not you, and allow him to learn what wonderful gifts you gave him throughout his life.
Written by- Stacey Becker