Parenting the Child You Didn't Expect While You Were Expecting: The Hero's Journey of Parenting Self-Guided Course
As we wander together on this parenting journey, please be kind and loving with yourself. Judgement, shame, guilt and “should-ing” on yourself does nothing but create more pain and suffering. If you notice it, take a deep breath and let it go. Repeat as often as needed.
Also, this course is for YOU. The exploration exercises are meant for your eyes only and the more vulnerable and honest you can be with yourself, the more you will be able to release what isn’t helping you and utilize the tools, strategies and questions that will actually serve you in the present moment.
Like it or not, you’ve crossed the threshold and are here because you have had your own awakening moment. You have accepted that something has got to change because whatever you have been told or whatever you have been doing, often controlling and placing all of your time, energy and attention on your child and their development, hasn’t been creating the change you desire. You may be searching for someone with tools and knowledge to help you feel more empowered and understood as a parent. You may be here with hopes that this will support you in that and I want you to know that supporting you by sharing what I know and use while on my own journey, is my sole intention for this course.
You may be feeling physical and emotional exhaustion and are craving some relief. I have spent a lot of time observing from different perspectives what actually happens when one’s child receives a diagnosis or label. I have explored where all of the exhaustion comes from, both within myself and from the conversations I have had with clients and what I have found is that while some of it comes from the day to day challenges faced, there are three major causes that you might not even realize and they’ve all been draining energy since that original threshold crossing.
Three Major Causes of Exhaustion While Parenting the Child You Didn’t Expect While You Were Expecting
1. Emotional Lockdown
Learning that your child, your baby, has a diagnosis or label is a shock, plain and simple. I don’t know anyone who expects something like this. When I first heard the word autism associated with my son, I remember feeling like I was punched in the stomach and couldn’t breathe. When I came back to the present moment, I noticed that while I wanted to cry or yell or hit someone, I pushed it all down so I could finish the appointment, get out of the office and continue being mom, wife, teacher. Once the next morning came, I felt all of those things again, but breakfast had to be made and we needed to get to school. I thought that if I even allowed myself to “go there” for a moment, I’d get stuck in it and wouldn’t be able to function. The emotions wanted to be felt but because I didn’t have anyone telling me that this was okay and normal and how to process them, I continued pushing them all down…for years. I was on emotional lockdown and the stored up emotional energy, naturally designed to support and help me, was being forced to wait until I was ready.
I hear about fearing the magnitude of the emotions all of the time from my clients and the irony of not allowing the emotions is that while fear they will render us unable to function, not allowing them actually leads us to be physically and emotionally exhausted, barely able to function. Back then, I didn’t know about this and if this is you, don’t worry! I will share in a future module ways that I have found to support yourself and release them in safe and healthy ways.
2. Warrior Mom/Dad
Getting a diagnosis or label tends to send parents into warrior mode as a form of survival. This is probably necessary in order to make a plan of action and still function in the everyday life tasks of grocery shopping, housekeeping, childcare and working. It is also revered in our society, equating being a warrior mom/dad as the way to show love for your child if they have differences. While the warrior has it’s purpose, to protect our heart and ego and take action to GSD (get sh!t done), staying in that energy is exhausting.
A really common challenge that parents face is when that warrior part of ourself goes into overdrive with the need to control. It makes sense considering all that is out of control in parenting children like ours. You crave some semblance of normalcy and calm as you know what it is like when things are off. You try and control all that you can from the moment your child wakes up until the moment they finally go to sleep. You prepare for the worst in order to protect yourself from meltdowns and tantrums. The constant mental and physical energy spent trying to control everything and everyone in our child’s sphere is exhausting!!
Preparations can help to create more ease for us when we consider what works, but the reality is that we cannot control anything but our thoughts. The idea that we are can control our children is an illusion and while it might feel better temporarily to think that you can control a situation,
I’ll bet that you can find evidence for how you planned something perfectly, using all that you know that works for your child, and they still had some issue. The illusion will eventually cause pain and frustration as you wonder what you did wrong and will result in the warrior energy increasing the next time to try and control even more. Makes me tired just to remember this in my life! If you can relate, the “Archetypes” and “Thoughts” modules will address what you can do when you notice this pattern in your life. I will share how I moved from being a total control freak to being able to recognize those tendencies and shift to helpful uses of my mental and physical energy.
3. Judgement Lens
The lens that we view our children through shifts and all of their behaviors, idiosyncrasies and abilities are magnified. Judgement becomes woven into even the most basic situations and we are constantly on the lookout for any dangers that can damage our hearts and egos. This takes a great deal of energy and usually leads to some sort of outburst.
There is a whole module on each of these but I wanted to shine a light on them so that you can start getting curious about how they might be exhausting you.
I will say this a million times along the way - do not judge yourself! I’ve been there and have coached many parents in similar situations and we’ve all experienced these tendencies. You are in good company and the more honest you are with yourself, the more you can use this information to help you in this journey. In subsequent modules, you will learn a variety of tools to learn what to do with this all.