Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Investing in Our Grandchildren’s Future October 11, 2011

Many people probably feel as I did when I had my first child: How can I possibly be a mother? I’m still my mother’s child! But my baby was born and there I was, hugging as I wanted to be hugged, loving as I wanted to be loved. I felt the same when I became a grandmother for the first time. Sure, I’d been a parent, but I was still my grandmothers’ granddaughter. The babies came, first twin boys, two weeks later a granddaughter, then another girl and another boy, and I kept hugging them as I wanted my grandparents to hug me, loving them as I wanted to be loved.

In my youth I had no experience with babies, never babysat or wanted to. By pure luck I got an education scholarship which I paid back by teaching in the public school system. My studies, followed by five years of teaching and a master’s in Early Childhood Education, taught me the enormous responsibility of preparing a new soul for life.  But they didn’t automatically prepare me for parenthood.

This past July I posted a piece titled “Conscious Parenting” about how the way we were parented unconsciously influences our own parenting (and grandparenting). For example, some people habitually copy dysfunctional parental behaviors without realizing it. Others see their parents’ flaws and try to make amends by raising their children differently without seeing how they sometimes err in the opposite direction. Still others treat their children as possessions whose reason for being is to satisfy their parents’ needs.

I believe, no, I know, that no job is more important, no role more vital to the future of our world, than parenting. When I became a mother at 27 I took this job very seriously indeed. My high standards and constant awareness of the disconnect between my ideals and the day-to-day reality of my inner thoughts and outer behavior made this the most difficult, gut-wrenching job I’d ever had, and I often despaired at my maternal limitations. Fortunately, my education and teaching experience coupled with my determination to do my best enabled me to be a good enough mother. Now I can honestly say being a parent is also the most satisfying job I’ve ever had.

I’m convinced that the combination of 1) raising and educating our children with conscious, loving intention, 2) working to protect their and their children’s future, and 3) knowing how our own shadows get in the way is the solution to global problems. I just wish I knew how to show our legislators their shadows. The majority of our Florida politicians seem unable to hug our educational system as they wanted to be hugged, love  and protect our children and planet as they wanted to be loved and protected. Their voting records say it all:  their personal biases and religious agendas take precedence over the welfare of future generations.

Like most parents, we began investing in our grandchildren’s futures long before they were born. Now they attend a school which likewise prioritizes children’s well-being, parental involvement, intergenerational communication and shared responsibility for each other and our Mother Earth. For instance, every fall the third-graders write a journal entry describing the most beautiful place in nature they can imagine and the parents respond to them in warmly affirming letters.

Since I forgot to mention or celebrate Grandparent’s Day this year (it fell on Sept.11th), I’d like to devote my next two posts to the stories our twin grandsons wrote and the responses of their parents. I suspect their words will demonstrate the benefits of investing in the future of our children and planet far better than anything I could write.

 

Conscious Parenting July 15, 2011

I’ve just spent two weeks with my five grandchildren and their parents. I am so proud of my children: how they turned out, who they married, how well they are raising their children.  Their parenting styles are different in many ways, yet both sets of children are delightful: sweet, funny, bright, good-natured, well mannered….(I could go on, of course, but I’ll spare you more grandparental gushing!) Our time together reminds me that no matter how well-prepared we may be for the role of parenting, much of how we approach this most difficult of all jobs is the result of unconscious factors over which we have no control.

Many of these factors result from the way our parents raised us. For example, I thought of my mother as an intelligent, well-meaning, independent kind of person with an unemotional and trusting parenting style. Having a full-time job, she was never involved with our education or social lives, trusting us to get along fine without her participation or advice. I took this for granted as a child, but as an adult I realized how much I had longed for her to attend my plays and concerts, how good it would have felt if she had been a room mother or a member of the PTA, how nice it would have been to come home to a warm, clean house and find her always waiting for me, perhaps with a tray of cookies or freshly baked bread. So these were things I vowed to do for my children. As it happened, my conscious choices, combined with a lot of good luck, an education in child development, help from a good husband, and a strong desire to be a good parent made me a good-enough mother.

But beneath the conscious aspects of my upbringing was an emotional undercurrent of which I was utterly unaware. For instance, I never heard or saw my parents argue or fight. (Of course, that could have had something to do with the fact that Daddy was rarely home!)  Moreover, I can think of only two instances in which my mother and I ever exchanged heated words. And when she used the word “damn,” I was shocked into silence. Intuiting her deeply repressed anxiety and emotional fragility and wanting to spare her more pain after my parents’ divorce, I by-passed the normal adolescent period of rebellion and unconsciously developed a deep-seated fear of anger and conflict.

When I became a parent, these factors had a powerful influence on the way I treated my children.  I had no idea I had inherited my mother’s anxiety and emotional fragility. But the reality was that agitation and conflict made me so anxious that too often when my children argued with me or each other my intervention was based more on appeasing my anxiety than on patiently seeking the most fair and just resolution.  It took years of inner work before I could see my anxiety and  understand the part it played in the unhealthy aspects of our family interactions.

The unresolved issues of our parents are handed down to us through underground passageways that connect their emotional flow to ours, and we pass them on to our children the same way. With every step forward I’ve made toward seeing and resolving my anxiety, my attitudes and behavior have changed for the better. Best of all, my family no longer has to bear the burden of my unconscious “stuff” of which I’ve become aware. I’ll never be a perfect wife, mother, or grandmother, whatever these elusive creatures might be, but sparing my family the worst of myself has been more than enough reward.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: