Carrie* walks into her daughter’s bedroom to wake her up for school because once again she’s slept through her alarm. Trying to sound cheerful, she gently rubs her sixteen-year-old’s arm and says, “Bridget,* it’s time to get moving honey.” Immediately Bridget begins to bark her usual response, “God Mom, why do you have to wake me up like that I HATE it when you touch me! Leave me alone!” Carrie’s body goes stiff, the back of her neck begins to tingle…this is what she expected, but not what she wanted to start her day with again. Triggered, she retorts in a condescending tone, “Well Bridget, if you were a little more responsible you’d be able to get yourself up and moving without my having to come in here every damn day!”
You may initially want to slap me for saying this but…Nobody tells you how much motherhood will be the best way to grow yourself up. No one talks about what you can really learn in the years between your child’s arrival and their launch.
And, nobody (before me, before today) shares the true secret to motherhood: raising human beings is our greatest opportunity to identify and work through the limiting beliefs we unconsciously took on as children.
And these beliefs will be triggered at any given moment by our kid’s behavior.
What the hell is a limiting belief?
When you were a child you picked up subtle cues from your parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers (all of the important people in your world) about how to act and what you should say in order to feel their love. Even if they said they loved you unconditionally. Most of us spent a lot of our childhood performing to get our parent’s love and acceptance.
At our core, we do not want to be abandoned by the people we love the most. And every human born comes into the world with six basic emotional needs. We work hard to get those met through our words and behavior. What are our basic emotional needs? They are acceptance, affection, appreciation, attention, autonomy, and what Dr. Brené Brown says we’re all wired for…connection.
Every one of us has limiting beliefs. Even if you had the most woke, present, emotionally intelligent parents! The question is whether or not you are aware of them and then, taking it another step, if you decide to do anything about shifting the ones that are triggering you.
What’s a trigger?
An emotional trigger is anything — including memories, experiences, or events — that spark an intense emotional reaction, regardless of your current mood.
Many moms know they are being triggered by the people they love the most, but they don’t ever take the time or invest the energy to question and then to create new, more accurate beliefs to better serve themselves and their kids.
The women I work with have found the courage to look at the beliefs they hold about themselves because they know those beliefs are blocking their full potential and they’re tired of it; they want more from their lives.
As Carrie and I worked together she was able to understand her value as a person and become less reactive to Bridget. When that happened (by becoming the calm in Bridget’s storm) her daughter learned how to regulate her emotions as well.
*These are not their real names.
What do limiting beliefs look and feel like in parenting?
Some typical triggers: feeling disrespected when your son doesn’t obey curfew (tripping the deeper need in you to feel seen/heard/accepted). Becoming deeply hurt when your daughter rolls her eyes at you for the first time (on the surface you may feel or say you’re annoyed but below the surface is your desire for appreciation and connection).
Think about the frustration coursing through your body every time the door to their room slams because you’ve doled out another rule in an effort to protect your teenager…if not from others, then certainly from themselves. That anxiety is a surface reaction to a deeper trigger of [as a parent] you are not enough or the job you’re doing as a parent is not good enough.
Evading curfew, the eye rolls, wearing a revealing tube top, door slamming, and dying one’s hair blue are examples of our teenager’s attempts to individuate and build autonomy (it could also very well be a way to seek attention or affection). As the parent, this behavior is an assault on our desire to feel seen and heard. We equate the way our kids show up in the world as a direct reflection of how good a parent we are, in other words, how valuable we are as a human being.
Our deep need to be seen and heard comes from not having had enough of that experience as a child. Let’s face it, even if our parents doted on us they didn’t get it right 100% of the time. I know my parents didn’t. They did the best they could with what they knew and based on their own growing up experience. This is why we react now by feeling angry, disappointed, and/or disrespected when our kids trigger us.
But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
So, how can you stop getting triggered by your kid’s behavior?
Personally join me for my 8-week online course Becoming Me While Raising You, A Mother’s Journey to Self. Together, in a small group of women (think handful) we will uncover your limiting beliefs and shift them into healthier ones! We’ll also look at consistent boundary setting, building trust with your teen, creating open communication at home, how to know when to lean in and fix something in your teen’s life and when to let the natural consequences of their choices teach them.
We meet on Zoom either Tuesday mornings (10 a.m. CST) or Thursday evenings (7:30 p.m. CST). Eight weeks to new beliefs, confident parenting skills, sharper intuition, and a more peaceful home life. I’ll be right there to guide you every step of the way. Text me at 972-689-0250 or sign up through the link above to grab your spot. This is an ongoing enrollment so any week you want to begin you can, you just have to commit for 8 straight weeks.