We’ve all had experiences of acting out on our children when they don’t fit into our expectations. By acting out, I mean that we will punish, shame, or withdraw our love in some manner. Most of us do this from time to time. It was done to us by our parents, and it was done to our parents by their parents. It’s not bad that we get triggered by our kids. We’re human, and as humans we have places within ourselves that still need healing. The important thing is how we deal with it when we do get triggered. Most of us weren’t taught about taking responsibility for our own feelings. Therefore, we don’t know that when a child does something and we get angry, it wasn’t the child who made us angry. Usually, because we don’t know about taking responsibility for our own feelings, we think we are the victim of our child; that we have no control over this anger that our child “made us feel.”
Often, when our child behaves in a way that pushes our buttons, on an unconscious level we go right back to an earlier time in our life when we were hurt or felt powerless. Our children seem to have a knack for knowing exactly what to do or say in order to trigger our most intense feelings. Take a moment to think about a situation in which your child behaved in a way in which you disapproved. Perhaps she was “selfish” and didn’t want to share a toy. Or maybe he was angry and hit someone. Maybe even in a fit of rage she said, “I hate you!” Bring to mind the way you responded. Now, bring the same scene to mind, but this time, before you get to your response, imagine that you are completely filled with and surrounded by love. Take a moment to make this as real as you can. You can imagine that a religious figure or an angel is there with you, or that an unconditionally loving presence is surrounding you. You can even imagine an animal friend with you, or simply a beautiful being of light. Once you are able to feel this love all around you, go back to the scene in which your child says or does something you find unacceptable, and notice your response now. Is it different? Most of us will find that when we are filled with self-love, we have much more love to give to our child.