The path of raising children has taught me so much about myself and I know I am not alone. All of the women I interviewed recognised that they had learnt about who they were through their children. In fact, I would be as bold as to say that bringing up little ones forces us to learn faster than if we had continued with our pre-kids lives.
Here are seven areas where our children help us to grow and learn about ourselves.
1. They open us up to love and pleasure
Our children help us experience unconditional love. We get to love another person with no limits. No matter what they do, we love them. In this there is great growth and also great healing, particularly for those of us who did not receive it as a child.
We are released from our adult world of tasks and responsibilities
The love we have for our children is a gift and it opens us up to pleasure also. When we see them enjoying life the way they do, it so often releases us from the adult world of tasks and responsibilities and puts us firmly back in connection with our fun loving side. How many people without kids let to role around on the floor tickling each other, crying with laughter?
2. They make us notice the world again
Our children notice everything. They are interested in the world and through their own exploration and questions we begin to see the world through their eyes. For moments in time we are transported away from the ‘Seen it all before’ and ‘I’m busy right now’ mindset and back into that open and curious place that children inhabit. We learn about being in the moment and being okay to be ourselves.
3. They copy what we do
At first it starts off small. Babies copy our actions and facial expressions. But as they grow the copying gets more noticeable. We find them doing and saying things that we do and say. We get to hear how we sound and see what we do. Sometimes it is lovely and sometimes it is really uncomfortable. I am sure all of us with kids have thought to ourselves ‘Am I really like that?’.When our children copy us it can be both funny and really uncomfortable. 'Do I really sound like that?' Click To Tweet
Of course, there are times when they show us something that we don’t even recognise in ourselves. One of my sons kept getting exasperated with the computer, throwing his hands up and shouting. I asked my husband where he learnt that from only to be told that I do it. I scoffed, knowing that I would never behave that way until the next time the computer failed me and lo and behold, I found my hands in the air, shouting. It was me all along.
4. They copy how we feel
Children copy us emotionally too. We teach our kids how to feel about the world and about themselves. This is the scary bit of parenting. We are emotional role models for them and it is not what we tell them but how we are, that they pick up on. They most often reflect what we are or they do the opposite. There are messages in they way our children feel that tells us about ourselves.We are emotional role models for our children Click To Tweet
5. They push us to our limits
Children can push us to our limits in so many ways. Let’s not pretend it is all love and light. They can drive us mad, make us exhausted, use up every bit of patience and still need more. The most obvious time that this is true is when they are very young but it continues in various forms throughout their lives.
The way we react under stress tells us so much about ourselves
The thing about being stretched is that it really teaches us more about ourselves than any other time. The way we react under stress teaches us about ourselves and about life in general. But more than that, being challenged is a bit like climbing a mountain. We get exhausted, don’t always enjoy it but all the time we are building new muscles, often without noticing. We come away from it stronger and more resilient.
6. They pull us back to experience childhood from another angle
For all of us being a mother brings up the emotions of childhood at times. For a number of the women I interviewed with very dysfunctional upbringings, becoming a mum brought up a whole heap of emotions that they had to address. For many of us it is more subtle but still profound. We get to experience a childhood from an adults perspective. From this, we can see so many things about ourselves. For me personally, watching my sons journey through life has helped me understand my own. It helped me realise how tough it is at times to be a child, allowing me to view myself much more kindly then I ever did before.
7. Change our perspective on our parents
As parents we begin to see our own parents with new eyes. We now know the love that they felt and how hard they had to work. Children have no idea how much work is involved in raising them and even as an adult without children, we cannot know what our parents did for us. It is only when we experience parenting ourselves that we can really understand what is involved, both emotionally and physically, in raising kids.
For many of us this means that we feel a greater regard and respect for our parents, understanding their choices and decisions more than before. For some of us however, it can add a painful clarity to the lack of care received. Experiencing the love and vulnerability of our own children can bring into sharp focus poor parenting in our childhood.
So these are the seven areas I have come up with. It is not an exhaustive list. I would love feedback on what your children taught you the most about yourself or if there is something you would add to my list. Please leave your comment below. Thanks
So what is next?
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