In all my time as a parent, as a child caregiver, as a healer and counselor, I have heard the word (and used it myself, often) “dysfunctional.” It is used to describe families that aren’t “good enough” to put it simply. But what it actually means is a family or parenting that DOESN’T FUNCTION.
I like how Joan Ilsey Clarke and Connie Dawson put it in their book Growing Up Again: Parenting Ourselves, Parenting Our Children:
“If our families had not functioned we would not possess many of the skills that we do have. Somehow our families were functional. Some parts of them worked. A negative label is a burden that doesn’t help anyone.”
I really like this book, and the alternative they use to describe less than adequate parenting: UNEVEN.
Uneven parenting might be something you experienced growing up, and it might be something you struggle with now. Uneven parenting can be rules that are not consistent, moods and emotions that are unpredictable, consequences that are not followed through on, mixed messages and double binds that require children to adapt and learn less healthy ways to get their needs met.
When we grow up with uneven parenting we can develop beliefs about ourselves that underlie our decisions and behavior, that run under the surface but color our perceptions of the world and others in it.
Some beliefs could be:
I am not lovable
I am stupid
I can’t trust anyone
I have to figure it out alone
I have to be in control or I’ll get hurt
I am not important
I am bad
I am not good enough
When we are operating from these beliefs we can behave in uneven ways towards our own children.
I firmly believe, and I am passionate about it, that if we can discover what our own limiting beliefs are, we can learn to parent evenly, and support our children to grow in healthier ways too.
Take a moment to think about how you were parented. What was helpful in the way you were parented? What was less helpful, or harmful?
Make a list of helpful and less helpful parenting you experienced.
Now notice what you do with your own children? What is similar? What have you shifted? Where are you confused – as in “I know I don’t want to do THAT, but I’m lost about what to do instead.”
Talk to me in the comments, or, if you are a member, in the forum or the Facebook group.
Let’s find some alternative ways to think about your own experience both being parented as well as parenting! There is SO MUCH more for you and your kids, and I would like nothing better than to help you access the full potential of your parenting!
Soon in the future I’ll be doing a free webinar to talk about this in more detail, and what to do about the information you find, so keep a look out for it!
All the best,