What our kids mirror back at us
From "The inwarders” Podcast serie n°23, available on major Apps or via: https://www.theinwarders.com/podcast
In this new serie “What our kids mirror back at us” I share with you my insight from being a full-time mum and what I’ve learned from it.
Last September, my 6 years old daughter started primary school. She follows the French curriculum here in Hong Kong, after four years in a local International Kindergarten. That means she studied English and Cantonese for all those years. And one day, we just dropped her in a complete different environment.
At that age, kids are very adaptable. When she got her interview to get in the school, we have been told that even though she was lacking behind in French, she would catch up very quickly, which she did.
Of course, there is always my usual “Mother Guilt” friend who comes to visit me on a regular basis. This friend asks: “why you didn’t put your daughter in the French stream earlier? Why you didn’t registered her to extra curriculum classes to support her?” This friend is quite judgmental.
I have learned over the years my “Mother Guilt” friend comes no matter what. When I was working full-time, I had to leave my daughter at her nanny’s for 10 hours each day. My friend visited me. I was a bad mom for not spending enough time with my baby.
Now that I am fully dedicated to my children, this friend still comes. But she adapted her arguments. I’ve come to the conclusion this friend comes no matter what. I just have to be centered into Being, present to myself, to make sure I don’t get too absorbed into her long monologue about all the reasons why, what I do is never good enough.
My mommy girlfriends and I often speak about our “Mother Guilt” friend. They happen to have exactly the same friend as I have. It seems we all have one. Unfortunately, I cannot talk about the “Father Guilt” friend as that’s not part of my personal experience…but I’m sure there is one too.
This friend is a vampire as often she sucks the energy out of me. If I’m not too attentive and aware of what’s going on inside me she will work behind my back and take the reins of my life.
Sometimes this friend’s ideas are so entrenched in me I struggle to see what’s at play.
My daughter started reading English in K3, the last year of Kindergarten in Hong Kong. So we practiced together. I’m not really the mom who can help her kids with sportive activities. But sitting comfortably reading books, that I can do well and enjoy it with them. So I thought.
But each time we started reading, I would get very upset. This is a “b”, no this one is a “d”. And even though the teachers said it’s absolutely normal they confuse letters at that age, I would keep insisting it had to be correct now.
At some point, my anxiety started to be disproportionate to what the situation required. That is when I sat down on my own with my note book, to try to figure out why I was struggling so much with the reading process.
My daughter should perfectly read at 5? Is it true? Well no. There is a learning curve. I think we can all agree on that one.
So, here is what I found:
I felt a tremendous fear when I was seeing my kid struggling with reading. It would trigger my “pain body” as Eckhart Tolle describes it.
That fear was linked to the pain I felt as a dyslexic kid. For years reading was not a pleasant activity because I was very slow at it. Some words I could just not pronounce right.
That pain I didn’t want to feel. I hidden it over the years by pretending I didn’t like reading nor I liked books. That’s absurd, because I’ve grown up surrounded by books and book lovers.
That’s when the mirror effect takes place. My daughter was mirroring my pain back to me. And unconscious of it, I feared she would suffer the same kind of pain as I did as a child.
It looks like it’s a good reason to insist and get upset. But it is not because the reason behind it is not to read well, but to prevent her not feeling the pain of not being able to read properly.
Because of that, my daughter started to hate reading, which is exactly the opposite effect of what I intended to do. I “wanted” her to love reading. That “wanting” was creating the problem.
Of course, it is normal to want the best for our kids. But the reason behind “wanting” is essential. We can desire out of love, or we can “want” out of fear. That second one creates painful situations and conflicting relationships.
It all stopped when I acknowledged the pain that was mine. I was no longer projecting it on my daughter. From that day onwards, reading with my daughter became the joyful experience I had dreamed of. Our special activity. She now reads English and French quite well for a 6 years old. She takes her time practicing each day with her far more patient mother.
Nobody likes to be “the bad mom”. I’ve learned none of us are perfect nor bad. It’s a mix and matches and we can only give the best of our abilities. At the level of consciousness we are at.
The reason I share this story with you is to support you in becoming aware of our “Mother Guilt” friend. To know when she comes. To prevent her from forcing us to act upon fear and pain. Of course, not everyone has experienced dyslexia as a kid. But we all experienced something we want to protect our kids from. And I have learned the best way to protect them is by going inward first.
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