As much as we love our mothers and fathers, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent.
Even with all they knew, our parents could have resolved more pain and created more joy than they did.
So which of these essential things didn’t your parents know when they raised you? Take a look and learn how can you improve those parts of your relationship with them now…
1. Every child is an easy child
Were you ever told how difficult you were? Or did you hear how difficult your siblings were? It’s simply not true. No child is inherently difficult.
What to do now: If you were labeled “difficult,” put your hand on your heart and say, “I release the lie that I am difficult. I am easy to understand and I deeply love and accept myself.”
2. Certain messages wounded you
Different children receive different wounding messages, depending on their natural energy and distinct personality. Some are told they’re too silly. Others are called overly sensitive. Some get told they’re too loud. Others are shamed for being “shy” and reserved.
What to do now: Release any negative labels you still carry by looking at them as strengths. For example, if you were told to stop being silly, consider the possibility that you have a natural gift for bringing lightness to any situation! If you were labeled as shy, consider that you have a natural gift of observation that’s worth tapping into.
3. Repeated family stories affected you
Repeated family stories become blueprints for a child’s life. Consider the stories told over and over within your family and how they’ve informed what you believe about yourself.
What story surrounds your birth? (If you were early or late, you might follow that same pattern, even today.) What were you teased or disciplined for? (You may inwardly chastise yourself for the same thing now.)
What to do now: Change the story. In present tense, write down the story you would have liked to have happen instead. Make the new story of your childhood and your current life empowering and validating.
4. Some things were more important to you than they knew
Priorities often differ between adults and children. Because children don’t always know how to communicate what matters to them (and parents don’t always know what to listen for), children’s most intense desires sometimes get overlooked.
What to do now: Do something today that you always wanted to in childhood, but didn’t know how to ask for. Go on the adventure your parents wouldn’t allow. Throw the party or get yourself the toy you always wanted. The more childlike the experience, the better.
5. Punishment doesn’t work
Punishment controls present behavior, but it doesn’t work long-term. In the end, punishment sets up a child to believe that they need shame in order to be good. But discipline in its highest form teaches, reassures, and empowers.
What to do now: Identify how you punish yourself today. Do you overeat? Do you sabotage what you want most? Take your power back.
6. The best parenting happens with a bigger goal in mind
Many parents don’t consciously articulate their bigger-picture goal as parent. Even parents who do define their goals can sometimes get distracted from them in the day-to-day grind of meals and school and bedtimes.
What to do now: Write a mission statement for your life. What are you personally on this earth to do? Take inventory of your daily activities and priorities. Cut behaviors and attitudes that don’t align with your mission. (Saying that you want to be happy is not enough—define what happiness means to YOU.)
7. How to tell you that you were good enough
Parents love their children on such a deep level. But sometimes frustration or expectations can get in the way of expressing that a child is fine, just for who they are. They may inadvertently make their child feel that he or she has to act a certain way or reach certain achievements in order to be acceptable or loved.
What to do now: Tell yourself: “I am good enough. I love myself just the way I am.” Acceptance and gratitude for where you are now is the most important first step to getting where you want to be.
8. That they were good enough
Parents tend to be hard on themselves, in all generations. There’s something in us that tells us we can do better as parents than we’ve done. Your own parents may already be very aware of their own shortcomings in the role of parenthood.
What to do now: Tell your parent (either in person, a letter, or even in thought) that you love them. Forgive them for anything you haven’t forgiven yet. They were doing the best they knew how.
9. How to take care of themselves
For many generations, parents were not taught how to take care of themselves in an honoring way. An unhealthy extreme of self-sacrifice has over-extended many mothers and fathers who still needed to fulfill their own unmet childhood needs.
What this means for you: Do what you need to take care of yourself today! Reach out to some friends, connect with your feelings, let yourself go on an adventure, or take a quiet moment alone with your thoughts. Your needs are as valid as anyone else’s. Take care of them and you will be better equipped to show up for others.
10. It’s never too late to be a better parent
Most of my work in the field of Energy Psychology helps adults heal their inner child’s unmet needs. What a gift when a parent shows up to support their child, even if that child is now an adult!
What to do now: You are grown enough that you can parent your own inner child with gentleness and care. Allow a space in your life for your parent to show up and support you.
Consider what your missing lessons taught you
Somewhere along the way, even the best parents miss something. Your parents couldn’t possibly fulfill every emotional need that you had.
That doesn’t mean you’re damaged beyond repair. You have the power within you to take the lessons you learned from that pain and turn them into joy and fulfillment as an adult. Take the items from this list that resonate with you most and follow the suggested actions this week.
What you need to know now
No matter what your parents may not have known about parenthood, about life, or about you, your experience with them provided the lessons that made you who you are today. And you are more than good enough, just as you are right now!
As you care for yourself and fulfill your unmet childhood needs, you invite others (including your parents) to do the same with support and authenticity.
What else would you add to this list? What other lessons did your parents teach you because of something they didn’t know. Please share below in a comment.