Monday, September 8, 2014

Guilt Free Parenting

Coming from a belief system where divorce was basically a mortal sin but also a guaranteed way to fuck up your children, I've struggled a lot with guilt over the path I have taken. My oldest child is a 9 year old girl and recently she has been acting out with huge tantrums and general hatefulness. A few weeks ago when I was with them for the weekend she brought her younger sister to tears because she lashed out and said "you're ugly". She also screamed at me that everything was my fault when I told her to correct her terrible attitude. 

Not having anything close to a normal childhood or friends of a similar age to observe, I was unaware that much of this behavior is actually fairly common at this age. My girlfriend informed me that while my daughters turmoil may be elevated by the divorce, it is definitely not the precipitator of my daughters angst. That was a huge relief to hear and I've relaxed over the whole situation considerably. I was a bit nervous to bring the kids around someone I was in a relationship with because they are so astute, it doesn't take much for them to figure things out without you telling them and I didn't know how they would react. This past weekend the three oldest came and hung out with us and had a blast. 

Guilt is such a powerful engine behind much of what we do; but just like fear, actions derived from guilt are never healthy.  I've seen numerous times where parents have caved and done things for their children because they feel bad about something in the past but it only cripples them further enabling the dysfunction. If you are doing the best you know how, then you should release the past and not allow any guilt to effect your actions. 

They say that you are a product of your environment but I think that's only partially true. You are a product of what you choose to become with the knowledge of the range of those possibilities being what your environment informs. I'm not worrying about my kids or the influences that come across their paths because I am one of the influences. Ultimately they will choose what they believe and how they interact with the world regardless of how much I do or do not shelter them.  I don't need to feel guilty about getting divorced or that I let them watch a certain movie or let them listen to a certain kind of music. It's not what goes in that determines who you are but what you hold onto and put back out there that makes you the person you are. 

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