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Mar 082012

As a parent of 2 and 3 year old children I often find myself in situations where I just want to scream! Ever have that happen to you? How about wanting to pull your hair out? What about those times when you just want to throw something across the room, preferably not your child?

 If you can identify with any of these scenarios, as I do, it’s likely that you’re feeling helpless and/or powerless. For me, most of the times I feel this way involves some sort of situation where I’m trying to get one of the kids to do something and CAN’T! Allow me to list some times and you can let me know if any of these ring a bell:

  • Getting them to take a bath
  • Getting them to get dressed
  • Getting them to get undressed
  • Getting them to brush their teeth
  • Getting them to eat
  • Getting them go to sleep
  • Getting them to wake up
  • Getting them to respond to you
  • Getting them to stop hitting
  • Getting them to stop running away

And the list goes on…

There’s two things that are in common every single time any of these situations occur for me. First, I can easily get a charge in which I am PISSED! The second, is that if I really sit down and think about what’s going on the following thought occurs. I cannot get my children to do what I want them to do.

Hello Helpless and Powerless!

Many of us don’t want to think of ourselves as “being” helpless and powerless because that’s what you would identify someone as weak possessing or perhaps very old or even very young, like our children. Well here’s the good news! Helpless and Powerless are not states of being (they are not who we are) they are just feelings!

When we identify with helpless and powerless as feelings we can treat them as such and not become victims of them. When we find ourselves in the situations I mentioned above and turn to anger, isolation, etc. it means the feelings of “helpless and powerless” are now bigger than us and we’ve just become our own victim.

Just this morning my wife was running late for work. Jake (who is 2) just finished “going potty” and wanted to dress himself. Of course, he had all the time in the world and at the rate he was going it would’ve been Friday by the time he was done. I went to assist him in getting dressed. I sensed my wife’s distress around being late for work and wanted to help. Jake told me he didn’t want my help and the feelings came on! I started to feel really frustrated and pissed! I knew I couldn’t let these feelings mess up my whole day including my families so I removed myself from the situation.

I later thought about what happened and realized a couple of things took place. First of all, to some degree I did take on my wife’s distress. She was late (not me) and she was feeling stressed (not me) yet to some extent I took on her feelings. Obviously, I didn’t make good use of my boundaries as I could have respected her feelings and appreciated where she was but not let myself get worked up. In turn, when Jake wouldn’t let me help him I had feelings of helpless and powerless. Here my wife needed help and I couldn’t do anything (short of physically forcing him to get dressed, etc.).

So here’s the good news! All Parents FEEL Helpless and Powerless at some point. All parents respond (at some point) in a way that they’re not happy about.


Because we’re not actually helpless and powerless we can choose to accept this as a feeling and deal with it as such. So the next time your little one isn’t getting dressed when you’re running late consider the following:

  2. Acknowledge your feeling! Hello Helpless and Powerless!
  3. Acknowledge that you’re an adult and you’re not helpless and powerless, you just feel that way.
  4. Choose to respond in your adult reality which is in a calm, loving, respectful way not as a victim to your feelings in anger.

Remember, life is about progress not perfection. The very fact that you even consider this next time, EVEN IF you still get pissed off, is a great step in the right direction. Spending time loving ourselves is the ONLY way we’re going to be able to have a place to love our children.

Jan 192012

My last post was about how we as adults have paradigm shifts early on in life. I spoke about how we begin to give ourselves false beliefs, essentially lying to ourselves about who we are. Those paradigm shifts started taking place at a very young age.

It’s become clear to me that the reason we made that paradigm shift was out of self defense and preservation. As children we were abused on one level or another to the point of having to protect ourselves. This abuse could have come in many different forms. Again, it’s not about what form the actual abuse was in but rather how it impacted us personally. That abuse/trauma could have taken many different forms including but not limited to:

1. Physical abuse

2. Sexual abuse

3. Emotional abuse

4. Abandonment

One form of childhood trauma that I think doesn’t get talked about enough and would probably fall under emotional abuse is shame. Shame is one of those things that has become so common in today’s society that I don’t even think most of us notice when it’s happening.  I know because I was shaming my children without even knowing or being aware of it.

 One common thing I’ve said before and I’m sure you’ve heard is when a parent gets mad at their child and says, “What were you thinking?” or “What is wrong with you?” On the surface it may not seem like much. However, to a small child or toddler this can go very deep. To a child, their parents are the God and Godesses in their life. Hearing this kind of abusive language makes them feel “less than”, “stupid”, “embarrassed”, “confused”, among other things. This shame that they feel as a result of hearing this can last for a lifetime and certainly well into adulthood. It’s language like this that sets the stage for how children begin to see themselves and think about themselves. When children feel these “less than” feelings early on awareness of their inherent nature gets obscured with lies. The child that was born loveable, good enough, worthy, and intelligent now sees him or herself through new lenses. A paradigm shift has taken place and now every meaning that child assigns to the thoughts they have is blurred by these new lenses.

 So, as parents we have an incredible gift and responsibility. While our children are young and still living life aware of their inherent nature we can foster that. We can take steps to remind our children of their inherent nature. Every time we shame or abuse our children in any way we put holes in their inherent nature and help them form false beliefs about who they are. Children aren’t old enough to have boundaries and they are extremely impressionable. The shame, pain, and unresolved hurt that we carry from our own childhoods can’t be given to our children. Once we understand that much of who we are today is a result of what we were “given” as children we can begin to take the steps necessary to stop that cycle.

 Loving our children isn’t just a feeling we have. To love our children is an act and an intentional one. Love has to be intentional, thoughtful, and with purpose. Loving our children starts with loving ourselves. Take a look at yourself and think about how you feel about yourself. Do you think you’re good enough? Do you think you’re attractive? Tender? Thoughtful? Intelligent? Worthy? Precious? Loveable? If you have difficulty in thinking  any of these things could be true about you (and most of us do) then that is the first step. Just being aware that you feel this way about yourself will help to identify whenever you may be passing that on to your precious, loveable, worthy, and tender child.


Feb 232011

September 22, 2006 was a very special day for us. Afterall, it would be the birth of our first son. He was the cutest little thing in the world. He had long red hair and was very exciteded! He was born alongside 12 other siblings. Oh, did I mention he’s a dog? No, my wife didn’t give birth to a dog nor did she give birth to 12 others. He was born the old fashioned way with a Mom and a Dad Dog…no human intervention. Okay, where’s this post going? That just got a little weird.

Anyway, we paid him so much attention. This was two years before O was born and 3 years prior to Jake joining us. He was all we had and we loved every moment with him. He was in many ways our son and we certainly treated him like he was our baby. Often times you’d think he was a baby! He couldn’t control himself when he was a puppy and would go everywhere in the house. He ate like a mad man and required special baby (puppy) food. He was our little boy!

When we found out we were pregnant with O a sudden rush of guilt came over me. I didn’t want to lose the relationship we had, the closeness. He was a huge part of our family and one we’ve had for two years at that point.

Think things change when you have babies?

Well people told us the dog would take a backseat to the kids and I just didn’t want to believe it. Not that I thought I wouldn’t spend the needed time with our “real” children. Only that I thought the time would be there (or I’d make the time) for him too. Time? What time?

What led me to write this post about our boy, Cody, was that sense of guilt again. No, I’m not looking for a pity party from anyone. Truth be told I haven’t made the time to take him on the walks he deserves and to give him that special attention he deserves. Yes, the kids give him attention but usually it’s in the way of hair pulling, tail slapping, eyes poking, trampoline bouncing on kind of way. You know…all the ways we parents just love seeing our little ones treat our pets.

He’s a total attention hog too. Oh yeah, he’ll come right up to you and put his head right on your lap. Then when he wants to be pet he’ll put his paw on your lap. He knows what he wants and he has no shame in telling you about it. It’s probably a good thing too because I need that reminder that he needs love and attention just the same.

Cody might not be a child and may not quite have that same place in my heart that O and Jake do. However, he is my boy, my first boy, and I love my little guy. Hopefully, “coming out” with my Slacker Daddy admission will be enough to remind me that there isn’t just two, there’s three. He deserves that love and attention we gave him when he was the only one. Now to find that extra hour in the day!

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