Dear Parent secretly terrified you’ve broken your child
Updated: Nov 13
The responsibility we feel for our offspring is huge.
The potential impact of our choices and behaviours weighs heavy.
It’s a frightening thought.
If you’re asking the question have I broken/damaged/f****ed up my child then I gently want to challenge you
Is this the real question?
Perhaps there’s a more helpful way to approach this.
Perhaps as you gently explore what can be a very painful question, this might even be the birth place of hope.
Press pause on the raging emotions.
Turn off the self-criticism and judgement.
Give yourself a moment to collect yourself.
And permission to explore a little.
If you’re asking this question it tells me something isn’t feeling quite right in your relationship with your child.
I hear concern for your child and a parent who takes their responsibilities seriously.
I also see you reflecting on the things which may not have gone well and seeking to explore, understand and learn.
This is a really positive place to work from.
So let’s start to explore this a little further:
What is concerning you about your child?
If you can take the fears and worries which whirl around your head and capture what is happening which is gives you cause for concern then you have a starting point which is tangible. You can evaluate what is really happening for your child and why it is a potential problem. You can also begin to move away from focusing on guilt and blame and to what the needs of your child are and how you might begin to find ways to meet them. Whether it's writing out a list or talking to a partner/friend articulating those worries is key to helping your child.
How would you like your relationship with your child to be?
Picture how things would be in the relationship you’d love to have – what might you be doing together? How would you feel? What would you be saying? What would the vibe of the relationship be?
Starting to identify what you do want and the key features of that doesn’t magic it out of the air – it can be painful to consider when you don’t have it – but if you don’t know what you do want then your focus is on the problem rather than a way forward. As you begin to identify specific features of the relationship you want you then have something more tangible to work toward.
What are the obstacles you are facing?
What are the elements which prevent you having that kind of relationship you want at the moment? Articulating these makes them more concrete than vague ideas and thoughts in your head. You are then better placed to really explore what’s happening. Maybe they are significant and immoveable – we can’t control what other people do and their choices, but maybe there are some obstacles which are much smaller in reality than in our heads. Identifying the real obstacles can be key to identifying a pathway forward.
What do you know about your child and what does and doesn’t work for them?
You probably know your child better than anyone else. You have a whole wealth of expertise which, if tapped into can be a game changer. What do you know works? What doesn’t? What kind of relationship might they like?
If you’re able to put yourself in your child’s shoes and explore how the world looks like from their perspective then there may be some useful gems to help you move forward. Maybe they’d love a similar kind of relationship, but lack the tools to connect. Exploring the world from your child’s perspective means we take off our filters and judgement and can see things from a whole fresh and useful point of view.
What concerns you the most?
Here’s the rub – admitting our deepest fears is scary. But some of your fears may just be shadows and some may be areas where, once explored, there are some tangible action points and ways forward. My caveat to this is that sometime it’s wiser to do this with someone by your side than alone and that can mean having to reach out and trust other people with something which can feel pretty vulnerable.
Who or what might help you?
I spend a lot of my work helping parents identify how to best work with their child to build positive family relationships. I see many parents starting from a place of despair and moving to a place where they realise they have a lot of skill and expertise on their child which they can use to improve family life. There is hope. Who do you have in your circle who you can talk to? What resources might help you? Who else do you know who could help you?
How important is it to move this forward?
This is the ultimate question – carrying this secret terror is painful, but reaching out for help is vulnerable and tough, but so, so worth it in the end. Whilst there may not be easy options there are choices, but first you must decide how important making a change is to you and what you are willing to invest to make this happen.
Imagine being able to let go of the weight of fear. Imagine being with your child without being haunted by the worry you have broken them? How awesome could family life be for you then?
Be kind to yourself - family life is an awesome privilege, but rarely a smooth and easy journey
If you could do with some help to explore this further you can book a free 30 minute coaching call at: https://calendly.com/optimumcoaching/initial-chat