When your parenting instincts suck

Posted by Samantha on August 25, 2011 in Change, Conditioning, Parenting Dilemmas |

It’s been 65 years since Dr Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care was first published.  This hugely influential book opens with the lines “Trust yourself.  You know more than you think you do.”

How many parents are there out there like me, who knew that this advice wouldn’t work for them because their parenting instincts couldn’t be trusted?

Since then I’ve come to understand the difference between my parenting conditioning and my parenting instinct.  My true instincts as a parent were buried under a lot of conditioning.

I was programmed to parent by my parents (as they were by theirs before them).  And that conditioning, coupled with my personality, created a lot of parenting behaviour – especially in a crisis – that I swore I’d never do.  I might characterise it as too much TOUGH and not enough LOVE.

My conditioned instinct was to shout.

My conditioned instinct was to criticise.

My conditioned instinct was to blame.

My conditioned instinct was to feel resentful.

Nowadays, I try instead to get to my true parenting instinct, because this indeed can be trusted.

It’s been such a relief to realise that I don’t suck as a parent.

To discover that I am in fact a good mother.

To realise that I actually DO know what my children need.

To find the courage to stick with my conviction about what love really looks and sounds like.

And then to go and do that for my children.

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