Episode 105: For Perfectly Imperfect MothersJun 07, 2021
Most of us think that we’re supposed to be good parents. And we make that mean that we shouldn’t make any mistakes and, if we are doing our job right, our children shouldn’t either. We think it means that our children will be happy and successful. The trouble is that so much of what we call “success” in mothering and parenting are things that we have no control over.
In this episode of the podcast, I’m sharing four things that you can let go of in order to love your parenting and increase your connection with your children. I’ll show you how in all your imperfection you are exactly what your children need and how all your ideas of perfect parenting are only getting in the way of being able to love your children as you are.
Episode Tools and Questions
I don’t know what it is about mother’s day, but for a lot of us, it's just a painful reminder of all the ways we are failing. In general, I think the feelings of shame, inadequacy, and regret are much more persistent and ever-present for mothers.
What I find is that we tend to celebrate on Father’s Day, but on Mother’s Day, the mothers are just excruciatingly aware of all the reasons they deserve no celebration because they have failed in so many ways.
So today's episode is for all of you parents and especially you mothers who think you could be doing better, who think you should be doing better, who think you just have to do better, and who just wish they could figure out how to do better.
Today I want to offer you the following ideas.
First, that our children are supposed to suffer and we create less suffering when we stop trying to change that.
Second, I want you to know that your children’s results are none of your business.
The last thing I want to offer you to help you in your parenting is to accept where you are and who you are and how you are doing it.
So as you listen today keep these things in mind and remember that parenting is the hardest job there is because it just brings up all of our own stuff. All the negative thoughts our brains have about us just get brought up again and again as a parent.
But if you can stop making yourself wrong for doing it wrong, it makes it so much easier. Happy Mother’s Day!
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Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price, you might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thought you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome!
Hello, podcast universe! Welcome to episode 105 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price, and I want to welcome you to the podcast, and thank you for being here, for listening, for sharing it with your friends. I really hope that it is making a difference in your Earth-life experience. Like we need all the help we can get, don't we? Like it isn't easy, and it's not supposed to be, but I hope the things that I talk about here on the podcast, and share with you, I hope that they are making your Earth-life experience a little more bearable, right? With a little less suffering, less suffering that we create for ourselves as you see the power that you have to create the experience you want.
And if you think this podcast is helpful, I just want you to know that is nothing compared to the power of coaching, right? Like the podcast is kind of like the general theory and philosophy, but coaching is the real-life application, right? To your real life, your real brain, and your real problems. And I've been trying to think of a way to explain it, and I think the reason that coaching is different than just like kind of like learning the concepts, and ideas, like in general, like here on the podcast. I think that the reason that coaching is different is because when you're listening to me on the podcast, you're doing it from inside your own brain, right? Like, obviously, right? But you're processing everything through your brain right now, like the words I'm saying, you process through your brain and you're seeing everything that I'm saying through your brain, through your current brain, through the current model that your brain is like observing and experiencing the world.
But in coaching, what happens is I take you by the hand, and we kind of step outside your brain, right? We observe your brain doing everything it's doing from outside. From the observer perspective, we observe your brain from a completely different perspective, and it shifts things for you so that you can see things in a whole new way. Oh! I get it, right? So, like the other day I had a photo shoot and I got my hair done for the photo shoot, right? And I, I thought about how when I'm doing my hair at home, I'm doing it from the perspective of inside my head, what I can see from inside my head, right? But when my hairdresser does my hair, she does it from outside my head, like she can see the full picture. And she has a totally different perspective on what looks good and how the curls should lay and all of that. And that's why it looks so different when she's done with it, right?
And so, anyway, I don't know if that helps, but I think coaching is so different than just thinking about the ideas because it's like the real-life application to your own brain. And I think you should have a coach. Life coaching completely changed my Earth-life experience. Like, of course, it's still 50/50, and of course, my brain still finds hard, and challenging, and difficult parts, but I know how to manage that now. I know that it's just a story, and it's never the truth. And I know how to get joy too, right? I know how to create the things I want in my life instead of just wishing that things could change. And I have given up so much shame and worry and regret, and that has improved every area of my life. Like so much suffering in my life, has been alleviated through coaching. But just seeing things in a different way, and by changing the way that I think about me, and everything that's happening, and I want all of you to have that experience.
So, I want to invite you to sign up for a free-coaching calls and see what it's like to work with me. My next group starts June 1st, which is like three weeks away, and this program is so good. You are going to learn all the tools you need to manage your mental, and emotional life, and improve all of your relationships, especially the relationship you have with yourself. And then be able to reach some goals and like do amazing things with your life. It is awesome! And the power in it is the coaching. The coaching you get, and the coaching that you see other people get. So, get on a call with me to see if coaching is right for you, and then you can sign up for the program, and we will spend the next six-months coaching together. If you sign up in June, you'll spend the last half of this year, like really understanding your own brain, and creating all the things you want in your life. It will change your life, it really will. So, if you're interested in that, you can go to my website, aprilpricecoaching.com to sign up for that free call.
Okay, today on the podcast, I actually had another episode planned, and I recorded it, and uploaded it to come out today when you're listening to this one. But then, I realized that this upcoming weekend is Mother's Day, and I thought that I would save what I was going to talk to you about for a future episode, because I really want to talk to all of you mommas. And I don't know what it is about Mother's Day, but for a lot of us, it was just a really painful reminder of all the ways that we're failing, right? Now, you fathers out there, you can listen in, and maybe this will be helpful to you as well. But in general, I think the feelings of shame, and inadequacy, and regret, are so much more persistent, and ever present for mothers. Like I think on Father's Day, the fathers are just like all in on celebrating the great job that they are doing. I am a great father, right? Whereas on Mother's Day, like the mothers are just excruciatingly aware of all the reasons that they deserve no celebration, and they deserve all the shame, right? Because they have failed in so, so, so, many ways, or at least they think so, right?
So, today's episode is for all of you parents, but especially mothers who think you could be doing better, who think you should be doing better, or think you just have to do better, and you just wish you could figure out how to do better. This is my answer to all of that.
So, I want to start with a story, so the other day I was in a dressing room, and I overheard a mother, and daughter having a conversation in the dressing room next to me. Okay, now right away, as I say that, and I describe that neutral circumstance, there's a mother and a daughter in a dressing room together, you probably already have some thoughts, right? Like any of you who have had a teenage girl, and have gone shopping with her, you already have some thoughts, right? You know, this is a very delicate situation, okay? Oh, the stories dressing rooms could tell, right? Like they are just like mini trauma processing centers where all our grief, and insecurity, and shame comes out. Okay, so anyway, I'm in this dressing room and I over here, this mother and daughter talking next door, and I'm going to give you the whole conversation, and then I kind of want to deconstruct it a bit at a time so that we can look at it. And I think it can be really instructive to all of us.
Okay, so I hear the mom say, "Oh, that's so cute. You look so cute, right?" And the daughter says, "I hate it. It's terrible. I look terrible. I can see my legs, I hate my legs." And then the mom says, "Well, then do something about it." And the daughter says, "By tomorrow! Do something by tomorrow? Yeah, great mom, real great. And the mother says, "What? What, I think you look nice. You look cute!"
Okay, so you guys, I know this conversation is one that you might recognize you might have had as a girl. You might have had as a mother, maybe you've had both. And maybe you thought, I can't believe I just did that, I just did the same thing to my daughter as my mother did to me, I was never going to do that, right? So now imagine like I'm the coach in the next room, right? And I just wanted, like, peek my head in there and give them some coaching, but I didn't. But I would like to now so if they are listening, hopefully this will help. And I would like to coach all of us here, and show you really what's going on here with our brains, and why it is so difficult to be a mother, and to be a child, both of whom have human brains. And whether or not it's in the dressing room, or in another situation in your mothering, the principles here are the same. So, you can just apply what I'm going to teach you to whatever is creating pain in your mothering relationship.
Okay, so the first thing that I want to coach you on, and offer you is the idea that our children are supposed to suffer, and we will create less suffering when we stop trying to change that. Okay, yes, you heard right. So, much of the suffering in our parenting is created because we are trying to make it so that our kids don't suffer, so they don't feel bad, so they aren't unhappy. But that is not your job. Did you know that? Hey, it's not your job. And when you can allow your children to have pain, the pain that they choose with their thinking, and stop telling yourself, and stop telling them that they shouldn't have pain, you will get so much relief for you and for them.
So, let's go back to the dressing room so that you can see this in the dressing room. The girl is upset, she is unhappy with her body. She had thoughts that she should look different, and her life would be better if she looked different, and she wishes things were different. She wishes her legs look differently, and these thoughts are creating pain for her. I hate my legs, right? This thought is creating pain. And the mother hates to see her child in pain, right? We don't like seeing our children hurt, or suffer in any way. And then on top of it, we also have given ourselves the job of making sure they aren't in pain ever. And so, not only is it uncomfortable for us to see our kids in pain, because we don't want them to have pain, but it also means that we might be failing at our job.
Okay, so suddenly we have two problems. Our child is suffering and they shouldn't be, and we have failed at keeping them from suffering. Now, all of a sudden, this mother has two huge problems to solve in this dressing room her child's pain, and her own failure to keep her safe from pain, right? These are big problems, and now the mother has to go to work solving them. And so, the mother is hunting around for a solution, and the only solution our human brains know is to change the circumstance, right? If the circumstance of legs is creating your pain, we need to change the legs, we need to change the circumstances. Then you can stop suffering, and I can stop feeling, and everything will be as it should be.
Okay, see, but wait a minute. How do you change the circumstance of leg size or shape? This is not easily done, right? Like the mother doesn't know how to change the circumstance of leg size or shape. She doesn't know how to change her child's suffering, and her failure at keeping her daughter from suffering. So now she's hunting around, she throws out the only possible circumstance changing solution that she knows, change your body, right? Do something about it. So, she throws it out there, well, then do something about it, right? If you are suffering, do something about it, change it if it is causing you pain, and then it can stop cutting both of us back. Now, of course, this is not the solution to the problem, and the daughter knows it, and the mother knows it, but neither one of them knows that the solution is just to allow the daughter to have her painful thoughts. The solution is not to need to fix it, to not need to change it, to just allow her daughter to think any painful thoughts she wants about her body, and to not need to change it. And then to not make that mean that she has failed because her daughter is unhappy.
Your job is not to make sure your children are happy. Your job is not to make sure they aren't in pain, and that things are good, and easy, and painless. We give ourselves this job, first of all, we're in trouble because we're not in charge of our children's choices, even about the emotions they choose, even about their opinions, about their own bodies. And we're in trouble because it sets up this painful dynamic where we need them to choose happiness, or we have failed. And that creates so much pressure in the parent child relationship, and our children can feel it, right? That's what was going on in this dressing room, the daughter was suffering because of her thoughts about her legs. The mother didn't want her to suffer, and didn't want to fail at making sure her daughter didn't suffer, and she needed her to be okay, and be happy so that the mother could be okay, and the daughter could feel that, right? That I need you to be different so that I can be okay feeling our children's sense from us, like our desire for them to be different even when it's just wishing that they will be happy, is an enormous amount of pressure.
And I know that this isn't easy to do, I have been in these dressing rooms, it's not easy in any situation to overcome your instincts, to not have your children suffer. Just this morning, I got a text from my daughter, something disappointing happened in her life. And my first instinct was to change her mind about it, to tell her not to be sad, to tell her that things would get better, to tell you that things were going to be amazing for her to to try to make her be happy. But instead, I texted back, I'm sorry. She can be sad, she needs to be sad, she wants to be sad, and the same is true for your child. She wants to hate her legs, it's not a problem. She will figure it out, and in the meantime, you just get to love her, and her legs, and you can even love her hating her legs. None of it is your job to change or fix or solve for her. Okay, so that's the first thing, your children are supposed to suffer. And it's not your job to change that, or fix that, and you haven't failed if they are. And it can relieve so much suffering for both of you when you let that go.
So, that brings me to the second idea that I want to talk about, and it's very similar, right? But I want you to know that your children's results are none of your business. Okay, so one of the things that causes the most pain, and guilt, and shame for us as parents is thinking that whatever is happening in our children's lives, whatever their personal results are, whatever they are feeling, whatever they're doing, whatever they are creating in their lives is our responsibility, or at least it's our fault, right? Or at least we played a part, or we failed in some way, right? We are taking on the responsibility for their results. I remember coaching someone once a mom of young kids, actually, and I was asking her, like, what is your job as a mother? And she said, "Well, I guess my job is to make sure my children are happy and healthy, right?" And she said it like, okay, this is just the basics, like this is the bottom basics, I should make sure my children are happy, and healthy.
And it kind of sounds right sometimes, right? Like there's a part of us that believes that that if we are good mothers, that our kids will be happy, and healthy, and their lives will turn out perfectly, right? And I remember telling her, did you know that you are not in charge of either of those things? You are not in charge if they are happy or if they are healthy, like neither one of those things is any of your business. Neither one of those things is your job. And in fact, you have no control over either one of them. Okay, both of those things are none of your business. And I know that some of you think I'm wrong about this, but I'm not.
Let's just take happiness first, right? Like happiness is a feeling, or maybe it's a state of being, right? A result in our life. But either way, it will be created by your child, and your child's thoughts. No matter if that child is five-years old or 50 years old, if your child chooses happy, they will be happy. And that choice is 100% their business. We get all tangled up, and confused as soon as we start making it our business, right? And we're over there in their model trying to change how they think, or they feel, or they act. Or we go in, and we try to change the circumstances so that that will change the way that they think, or feel, or act like. How your children think or feel or act and all the results they get in their lives are their choices. And it's not good mothering to put yourself in charge of all of that, okay? It's not even compassionate mothering, it's actually impossible mothering. It is literally impossible to circumvent another person's agency to choose. It is impossible to circumvent even your child's agency to choose how they think, and feel, and act, and the results that that creates for them.
It was never your job and it was never your business. Your business was to bring them to Earth, to love them, and to teach them what is important to you. And that is it, all the rest they get to choose, like even healthy isn't any of your business. First of all, there may be certain health challenges that are God's business, and that he has in store for their learning experience. But you don't have any control over that. And then, everything else, again, is their choice and their business. And I say all of this so that you can stop needing them to be different, to feel better about your parenting when we need our children's lives, or choices, or emotional states to be like X, Y or Z for us to feel okay about our parenting. We are, in a sense trying to circumvent their agency. And not only is this impossible, but it creates a lot of tension in the relationship, and it leaves you at the mercy of your children's choices. To feel okay about the job you're doing, you have to define your success as a parent, completely independent of your children's behavior. Their results have nothing to do with how you do your job as a parent. And that will be such a relief to both of you to take all that pressure off the relationship.
Okay, the last thing that I want to offer you in your parenting, is to accept where you are, and who you are, and how you are doing your parenting. Okay, so I know that you think like you can't do this, right, that if you accept your current parenting decisions with the current mistakes you are making, if you accept then things will never be different and in fact, they might even get worse, right? Like if you are going to put up with your own bad behavior as a parent, you're only going to get worse, right? But the opposite is true. The biggest thing getting in the way of you being the parent you want to be, is shame. You think you are doing it wrong, and you have a lot of shame about it. You think your children are suffering because of your mistakes, and that creates so much shame for you. And shame feels terrible, okay. And when we feel shame, all we want to do is hide.
So, after a while we get tired of feeling shame. We want to hide from that. And so, then we start blaming. We take a break from shame by blaming others. In this case, we blame our co- parent, or husband. Surely you have some responsibility here, or we blame the child, right? And so, when you have a thought that your children should be doing it differently. Notice that under that feeling of blame is actually a feeling of shame. And you just took a break from the shame to blame them for a minute. OK, so I'm going to give you an example from my own life. So, one morning my girls were fighting, and this wasn't very long ago, right? Like maybe last year at the start of the pandemic, I can't actually remember. But I know that it was both of my adult-college age girls. They were home, and they were fighting on a Sunday morning when they're supposed to be not fighting on Sunday. Don't you know that, right? And we were getting ready to go to church, right? And I went in their bathroom and I told them both to grow up, and I'd blame them for creating contention in our house. And I told them that they needed to behave differently.
Now, if we can just step back from the scene for a moment from this heart-warming scene. I want to point out to you that before I blame them for behaving badly, I had already shamed myself. I had thought that if they were choosing to do this, I must not have taught them correctly. And I had thoughts like, well they're in the world, and they have roommates and boyfriends, and their gonna fail at all those relationships, because I haven't taught them how to get along with other people, and how to not be selfish, right? And on top of that, they probably learn to yell at each other from me. They'd probably learned that yelling is the only way to get power, and get what you want from someone else by watching me, and I had been a terrible example to them, right?
So, notice in that moment, I'm taking credit for all their actions, and their behaviors, and their results, and shaming myself for the job that I had done. And this is so easy to do. And so, to take a break from that shame, I went in there and blame them and told them, like, you are behaving poorly, right? And I did some yelling of my own. And my daughter said to me, "You are a terrible mother!" And I left the room, and felt more shame, right? And this is what we call the shame blame cycle. Shame myself, blame them, then shame myself some more, then go back and blame them, right? So, I went back to my bathroom, and I blame my daughter for being rude, and inconsiderate, and saying inappropriate, and unappreciative things, right? And then my brain said, yeah, but you raised her to be that way, so really, you're at fault here. And that's how we do it. Shame, blame, shame, blame, shame, blame.
And I want you to see that at the start of all of it is shame. We shame ourselves for the way we are parenting, and that starts the whole thing. So if shame starts it, then the key to stopping it is to stop creating so much shame for ourselves. And shame is coming from the thought, I did it wrong, and I shouldn't have. And I want you to at least drop the last part, right? Like if you can't drop the part where you did it wrong, like I would love it if you could even drop that part because, like, how do we know? How do we know you did it wrong, right? We can't use their behavior as the measuring stick if we did it right or wrong, because remember, they get to choose. So, how do we know what actually went wrong here? But I know that's like step two, or step 100, to think that we didn't do it wrong. But so, if you can't let that part go, at least drop the part where it says you shouldn't have, right? Get to the thought that like you did it wrong, and that's okay. If you can just accept that you are a flawed human parent with lots of painful thoughts, and lots of insecurity, and lots of mistakes in this job, then you can stop creating shame for yourself when you do it wrong.
Of course, you did it wrong, good job, human parent. You are exactly where you should be. Accepting where you are, that you are in fact a human parent that makes mistakes, will open the door to where you want to go. Shame keeps that door closed. Shame keeps you hiding. It keeps you in that cycle of shame, and blame. If you can accept that, of course you made mistakes, and that's okay, then from there you can decide, now what? You can decide, like, what do I want to do now, who do I want to be? Now, another element of this is to stop shaming yourself for how you feel as a parent, right? You're going to feel 50% negative emotion as a parent. It's like we think parenthood is supposed to be like 100% amazing. And when we start to have 50/50 experience, we experience some of those negative emotions. We shame ourselves, and tell ourselves that we are bad mothers, that we are bad parents. You are going to feel irritated, you are going to feel inadequate, you are going to feel like it's hard. And if you can stop making yourself wrong for that experience, if you can stop shaming yourself for that, then you can figure out what you want to feel.
You need to make where you are okay in order to give up the shame that you have around it, because from there you can change anything you want. One time we were going on a trip and one of my kids was pitching a fit about having to go on this vacation like it was so hard for them, right? And I was so angry about it, and I kept telling myself I shouldn't be angry. And I told myself that over, and over, and over again, I shouldn't be angry, I shouldn't be angry, should be able to manage this emotion, right? And then part of me was thinking, well, if that child could just be different, then I wouldn't have to be angry, right? Which I shouldn't be. So, they were making me be all the things I shouldn't be. And I was just angry like that for three hours before I realized I could just allow myself to be angry instead of telling myself I shouldn't be, that it was okay to choose anger, and that I was choosing it. And once I made it okay, then I could see my choice. But when I'm in shame about it, it's really hard to see the choice that I'm making. The shame for being angry was keeping me from choosing something else, because shame always keeps us from wanting to take responsibility for it.
That's why it's so easy to fall into blame. But if I don't have any shame around my anger, I don't have to hide from it, and I don't have to, like, blame it on anyone else. Then I can find out the thought that is causing it inside my own head, and decide whether or not I want to keep thinking that thought. Accepting where you are as a parent in general, or in any given specific moment will allow you to give up shame. That will allow you to show up differently in all the ways that you want to. The shame is the thing keeping you stuck, it's not you, and it's not your parenting, it's the shame.
Here at the end, I just do want to do a bit of cheerleading for you, right? Like parenting is the hardest job there is because it just brings up all of our stuff, like all the negative thoughts our brain has ever had about us, just gets brought up again and again and again as a parent. Okay like you thought you were bad, well, now your awfulness is impacting other people, other very precious people. And so, like, all our stuff comes up, but that is as it should be. That's the deal. You thought you were raising children, but all you're really doing is learning to manage your mind about you, and the things that you decide to believe about yourself. So, I just want you to know that most of your pain is created when you think you're not supposed to do it wrong. Like you look around you like I'm doing it wrong and you think you're not supposed to. You can get so much traction by deciding not to make yourself wrong for doing it wrong. You were always supposed to do it wrong. That's why we're in families, not because we know how to do it right, but because we don't. And we need a safe place to practice. We need a safe place to do it wrong, and do it wrong, and do it wrong, until we learn how to do it right.
We are in a family not because it's perfect, or because we are perfect, but because a family is the safest place to be imperfect. Your children are learning, and choosing, and so are you. And neither of you were ever supposed to get it right. You were supposed to do it wrong. And the whole point is that we are in a group bound together by love who are going to practice this together. I told you like a week or so ago about how I like to imagine, like, we're all like balls on a pool table banging into each other. And as we interact, and impact each other, and bang into each other, it gives each of us an opportunity to manage our own minds, and choose our own experience, to exercise that agency. Remember, that's why we came to learn to exercise agency, and no more. Is that more true than in a family, and especially in imperfect families. We usually get more chances to choose your agency in an imperfect family than a perfect one. We are supposed to bang into each other. Closer quarters means more banging. And that's why being in a family is the perfect place to practice choosing the experience we want to have. Exercising our agency to choose love. When the banging is the most profound and the most intense, and if you can stop making yourself wrong for doing it wrong and for practicing, it makes it so much easier to let all the people in your family do it wrong, too.
It's not a problem that you do it wrong. You get to do it wrong. The problem comes again when you think you shouldn't, or they shouldn't do it wrong. Of course, you should, of course they should. Now what? How do I choose love no matter what? And that is the whole point of family life anyway. Okay my friends, that's what I have for you today. I hope it helps you stop trying to change your children. Suffering their results are never any of your business. Shame is the thing keeping you from being the parent you want to be, so stop telling yourself that you aren't supposed to do it wrong. You are a perfect parent in all your mess, in all your inadequacy, in all your mistakes, and in all your awesomeness, in your imperfection. You are the perfect parent for your children. You will bless, and you will harass your children in all the exact ways you are supposed to for them. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome! I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.
The next round of my group coaching program made four more starts soon and I think you should be a part of it. Your brain was program for survival, but you were made for more than that. You were made for more love and more accomplishment and more joy right now. And I can show you this simple way to get all of that. Join me in Made for More where we will spend the next six-months coaching and reprogramming your brain so that you can get the most out of this life. And the next go to aprilpricecoaching.com to sign up for a free coaching consultation and see how changing your thoughts can change everything else!
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