Updated: Aug 28, 2021
Ever since I can remember, I have been very attentive to how parents speak to their children, and how it can influence their children’s lives. I’ve studied it a lot. When I was a teenager I used to even write down notes about what I would say or do to a child if I had one someday, in a notebook I carried with me every day, as I heard parents talk to their children everywhere I went.
Now that the years have passed I have developed a lot of reverence for parents, for how unimaginably complex it can be to be a child’s full time caregiver. Let alone several at a time.
And there is something I feel every parent needs to know:
Parents, (and caregivers, and even babysitters), however imperfect you think you are, you are SO perfect just by being a parent to a new expression of grace in this world.
I believe you get to become aware of how wonderfully on purpose you are, merely by existing, because you have a powerful impact on these children’s lives, and you knowing this fully can only make this world a more blissful place.
It’s so clear to me now, what happens in the casual daily word exchanges of a relationship between parent and child. I would like to express what I have understood:
I hear, especially in France, a lot of:
« tttt… see? what did I tell you?
Ugh! You shouldn’t have done that!
No! Don’t do this!
Tttt. This is wrong, very bad!
Oh you’re annoying me, go play!
What are you doing??!!
You see? Now you’re tired, see what happens?
Stop crying now.
The scientific fact is that when parents do that, they are literally sending the information to their child’s neurological system that they are not loved and that they are going to die because of who they are or what they’re doing in that very moment.
Let me explain why:
First of all, parents, of course you don’t stop loving them to the moon and back when you say those things. Your way of speaking is mainly the result of what you were taught and think is best to keep them safe. YOU know you’ll always love them unconditionally.
But THEY have absolutely no idea that it is true: in their little bodies, their life is actually at stake in those moments.
Up until an advanced age, children do not have the physical and neurological capacity to discern their caregiver's inherent unconditional love (which ensures their survival) from the actual behavior of unconditional love: total acceptance, understanding, firm and lovingly expressed boundaries, celebration, support and care, absolutely 100% of the time, in every single word or vibration they emit.
And we all know that’s not possible! (Yet ;) ). Parents are humans. Children are meant to lose trust at this point in time on earth. To gain their own inner trust. (See last blog post). So again, parents, you are doing everything perfectly.
But my first split second reaction to hearing those is usually extreme rage because I’m trying to protect the child within me each time: my hypersensitive self has been so aware of the unknowingly deep violence of these words and the way they’re expressed, for a very long time.
I have been able to express my personal fear of not being loved by my parents without fully understanding it from about 3 years old, I used to tell my mom: “je veux pas que tu me fâches” (“I don’t want you to be angry with me” in an adorably incorrect way). And I have been able to break it down and put words on this inconsistency since I was about 7. “But do you love me? Or not? Then why are you saying these things? It makes no sense!” Yelling or forcing anything on anyone can never come from love. Only fear and control can do that. Love is founded on the full acceptance of the other exactly as they are, no matter what they are doing.
But as I gain perspective on this, my reactivity is turning into a beautiful opportunity to fully understand what’s going on on both sides and therefore transmute it a little more each time:
All of these words, and I mean this with the utmost respect (even having been a mere babysitter I can feel it, so I can't imagine how deep your experience is), all of these words come from a deep fear of not being the perfect parent. Some of you parents might not even be aware of it, but those words are repressed guilt and shame talking, and also a form of blurring of boundaries between you and them which creates a dependency on your child’s perfection in order to “be a good parent”. All of this runs very deep and I’d be happy to explain more if it calls to you. Believe me I am in no judgment here, honestly, it’s probably not even a quarter of what you were fed growing up! This is one of the main ways generational wounding gets passed down.
Parents already being perfect and knowing it so little that they are in constant fear of making mistakes and being shamed for it, and thus unconsciously infusing fear and shame into their little ones.
Dear parents, know that not even this cyclical phenomenon, that by the way has been going on for thousands of generations, can take away your inherent perfection.
Simply bringing awareness to those little moments goes a truly long way.
As a child, I have always found that firm boundaries to keep me safe are actually most efficient when wrapped into unapologetic calm. That is why the best thing a parent can do for their child is to discover themselves truly and rise in love with who they are.
I believe these casual daily exchanges are the tiny moments that will change the world because the children we take care of are our future builders and leaders, and their health, inner confidence, and inner love are literally everything.
With all my admiration and love,