I’m going to be honest, while I and TJ have benefited greatly from gentle parenting, it is also triggering as hell. I wrote about choosing to be a gentle parent. But it has not been easy.
As mentioned in my post about my inner child, gentle parenting is like parenting myself. And while it is rewarding, it’s also a bit triggering. Why? I’ll explain. See, as a child I wasn’t allowed to have feelings, really. Crying got me chastised. “What are you crying about? I’ll give you something to cry about”. I could not show anger at the treatment I received. The adults were just doing what was best for me, according to them.
My caretakers were strict disciplinarians and I had to show complete obedience, or else. No matter how arbitrary the rules were, I had to comply. It made me into a total control freak, to be honest. It still manifests today. I need to have things in a certain order or done by a certain time because I feel like a failure. This need to have control was brought on by the fact that as a child I had no control. So now I try to exert any control I have. But that can be damaging. Especially when it relates to child rearing.
It’s just not feasible or reasonable to expect total obedience from a child. Kids will be “disrespectful” sometimes. They won’t listen sometimes. It’s just a fact of life. Being a gentle parent is hard, because my first instinct is to yell or ground TJ for not doing something exactly the way I said or wanted. For example, for the longest time I expected TJ to keep their room in a certain order. If they didn’t, I would ground them. They have ADHD though so eventually I realized that I cannot expect their brain to work like mine, so as long as they keep their room clean, I no longer care in what order toys are put away.
As mentioned in the inner child post, there was an incident with food. And that triggered my food insecurity trauma. But I do not want to force TJ to eat something they don’t like or want. So, I had to excuse myself while I gathered my thoughts and feelings. Why was I feeling so angry? I realized it was because I was resentful and a bit jealous.
Why weren’t the adults in my life willing to learn to be gentle? Why did they beat me? Why yell? Why does TJ get a gentle, considerate parent and I didn’t? Was I not good enough?
Obviously, it had nothing to do with me. I didn’t deserve the abuse I got. No one does. And I don’t resent TJ, when I do feel resentful it’s because there is a wound there I haven’t yet processed.
There have been times where my patience has been wearing thin and I get so angry. Not at TJ, I have to stress, never am I resentful or angry at TJ for my own trauma. But damn, if it isn’t hard sometimes. Once I calm down I always mourn for the childhood and adulthood I could have had had the adults in my life been safe.
But I try not to dwell on that and instead focus on how I can avoid the mistakes of the past and be a better parent for TJ. Intergenerational trauma is a huge thing and all that bad bullshit ends with me.