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When Parenting Brings up Shame

Even the best of parents has a hard time not allowing their child’s choices to define something about themselves—good or bad. We all get caught up to some degree in Parenting Comparisonitis. The truth is, when your child makes choices you like, you can’t take all the responsibility for that. And when your child makes choices you don’t like, you can’t take all the credit then either. There are so many opportunities as a parent to live in shame and think that you did it all wrong and want to hide parts of yourself and your family from other people. But, hiding will never help you get to a better place and it will keep you living in shame, thinking something is wrong with you and something is wrong with your child. Shame is a major tool Satan uses to keep us stuck where we are and not allow us to grow. Listen to this episode to learn: 

·         What shame looks like when it shows up in your life

·         Three specific tools you can use to combat shame

·         How to begin letting the shame go 

I’m launching a beta version of my new coaching program for parents of adult children. I will only accept a few lucky clients into this beta version, so if you want to be one of them, fill out THIS APPLICATION and let me know why you want to be a part of this program. 

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You’re listening to Parenting Through the Detour, Episode 33 When parenting brings up shame.

Howard W Hunter said, Your detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow way back to him. And we know that men and women are that they might have joy. But when you get taken on a parenting detour, it feels like joy is something that other people get to feel. But not you. It doesn’t have to be this way. Join me on this podcast. And let’s find some joy through your detours. And I’ll give you some help along the way. I’m your host, Tina Gosney. And I’m a life and relationship coach, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I’m going to talk about something today that we all know is there in our lives, that’s present, that is something that we deal with, but we don’t talk about it or acknowledge it. We don’t talk about it or acknowledge it to other people. And lots of times we don’t talk about or acknowledge it even to ourselves, that it’s even present in our own lives, we don’t want to look at those things. And that is the this idea of shame, shame in parenting has been around for a really long time and social media has ramped it up big time for us in the last few years. I mean, you might call it comparisonitis. That’s, that wouldn’t be a good name for it.

But it’s actually more than just comparing ourselves to others. It’s actually thinking that there’s inherently something wrong with us, and that we are not as worthy or as good as other people. So shame is a very low vibrational energy, it’s actually the lowest form of energy that you can even operate from on this earth, and it will never produce anything good or noteworthy. In fact, you see it in the very first interactions on the earth. Satan used to shame in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, and they took the fruit and then he told them to run and hide and cover themselves up. Like there’s something wrong with you, you need to go hide.

And that is what shame does, it tells us that we need to cover up things that we need to hide things, parts of ourselves are parts of our lives, from other people, because they’re so shameful. Because if people knew those things about us, we wouldn’t be worthy, we wouldn’t be accepted and loved for who we are. Now, a huge shame trigger for women is in parenting. And women just have this this perfectionist, shame trigger anyway, but parenting plays a huge role in that. And it’s such a daunting task to think that you are responsible for another human being. Right? And, and that you are responsible for providing so much of them in their life for them to thrive in their life. And it’s such a huge responsibility that we feel like well, I have to get this right. Or I could mess up this kid’s life forever. And that is such a huge thought. It’s such a huge, it’s such a huge responsibility that we put on ourselves, and that we get reinforced to us all the time. That of course, we are going to have so much shame in our lives if we feel like we failed in it. If we didn’t do it perfectly. If we didn’t give our child all the opportunities that they needed to to survive and thrive in their lives. We tend to take that failure upon ourselves. And to make it mean that we did it wrong, that we were not as good as that woman down the street. And it’s and it’s a huge source of shame for ourselves and met so many times we project the shame and the judgment we have for ourselves onto other people like I’m going to show you in just a minute.

But in church we have you know very different ideals and ideals of what thriving in life and being successful in life looks like we don’t fit that ideal. Ideal that’s held up as this is what you’re supposed to be shooting For, there is a lot of opportunity for shame and to think that you failed. But what we don’t account for, and that we just kind of give a little cursory sentence to at the end of these lessons that we hear, and that we give is that we are all flawed human beings, living in an imperfect world, raising other flawed human beings.

So you see, you know, when I see young parents all over social media, posting the cute little things that their kids do, like how they got into the flower, and spread flower all over themselves, or funny little things like that. But then their kids get older, and all of a sudden, it’s like, there’s radio silence, they stopped talking about the things that are happening in parenting, because several reasons, some privacy issues. And that kid is now as a voice about whether they want to be on social media. But also, there’s some shame that comes in with parenting, in that I’m struggling with some things, my kid is really struggling with some things.

And if I have done it better, if I had been better at this job, this mothering this parenting job, then I wouldn’t be here right now. And we start posting anything that isn’t showing success or perfection. That’s the only face that we want to show people. And, and, you know, we don’t want to show people that messiness, and the imperfectness of life, because we want to control the way that other people are thinking about us. As if that’s even possible, it’s not even possible. As much as we try to do it, it’s not possible to control the way that other people are thinking about us.

And think about, there’s opportunities for shame. Before you even have a child, let alone when that child is here. There’s shame in infertility, there is shame in how much weight you’ve gained during pregnancy, and people wanting to comment and judge you for that. There’s the way you’re taking care of yourself and the things that you choose during pregnancy. And then that child is born and are you going to be a working mother or a stay at home mother? Are you going to breastfeed or bottle feed? What about when your child struggles in school? What about when they struggle to get along with other kids?

Are they caused problems in their primary class? Or in their school classrooms? What if they have a behavior or mental issue and they don’t fit in with the other kids their age? What if when they start to get older, they don’t ever get called as the quorum president? Or their class president at church? What if they’re never even asked to serve in a class presidency? Over and over and over again? What if they fight you on going to seminary? What if you have a child that struggles with drugs, alcohol or pornography?

What if your child decides not to serve a mission? What if they decide to go on a mission? And then they come back early? What if you have a child that decides not to go to college college just isn’t for them? What if you have a child that comes out as LGBTQ? What if your child doesn’t get married in the temple? What if your child marries a non member?

What if your child marries the same sex? Same sex partner? What if you really dislike that person that they’re choosing to marry and you think that they are making the biggest mistake ever? What if you have a daughter that comes home pregnant and she’s not married? What if you have a child that serves his full mission, and then picks up a pornography habit that you thought was behind them?

Once they get home? What if you have a child that gets a tattoo? What if you have a child that removes their name from the records of the church? What about a child that serves time in prison? I’ve just named a few of the ways that you can go into a shame spiral. As a parent. There are so many other ways, so many other things that we could have added to this list. And then, not only do we get to deal with these things as a parent, but you have other people wanting to pile shame on you saying things like, Well, I would never let my kid get away with that.

What do you mean parenting is hard? This parenting thing isn’t hard. All you have to do is and then insert a primary answer, like have family prayer or read scriptures or set a good example. Or maybe you have somebody that wants to pretend your child doesn’t even exist anymore. And instead they just talk about all the wins that their child is having. Maybe they don’t even say anything to you at all, but they say plenty about you As you as soon as you or your kids are not around anymore, so as if we don’t have enough to beat ourselves up about. We have other people wanting to add the shame on to the shame that we’re already heaping upon ourselves.

And we are really good at beating ourselves up, we are really good at even hitting ourselves when we’re down. And then we start to think things like, well, this is all my fault. Well, I’ve messed up this most important job that I had on the earth, I messed it up. What am I going to tell Heavenly Father, I’m supposed to bring these kids back to him. How am I supposed to do that I’ve messed everything up. You think things like I shouldn’t be dealing with this, I did everything I was supposed to do. And these things that I was promised are not happening in my family. So you think that it must have been me. And that adds shame.

And when you’re a part of a church that values families, the way that we do and you hear things that we do at church about responsibility that we have, as a parent, to teach lead and guide our children, it makes sense that you would feel responsible for your choices that your child makes, and the things that happen with your child. But the truth is, is that maybe you have a little bit of responsibility there. But you have a whole lot. That’s not your responsibility. That’s all piled up in this big, giant bundle of shame that you’ve taken upon yourself.

And it’s easy to want to hide and cover things up, that we don’t hold up as the ideal. Because we get caught in that comparisonitis in that I did something wrong. And now I need to hide. You see examples of less than perfect families all over in the scriptures, right? Just think about the Book of Mormon, Lehi and Sariah had problems. Think about they didn’t have social media, then they didn’t even have the internet. They had children who complained about everything. They had some children who beat up their brother and tried to kill him more than one time. They had children who rejected the words that their father had for them, their father, a prophet. The things that he wanted to teach them the things that he wanted to the goodness he wanted to bring into their lives, and their way of life.

And they rejected it. Now, their story doesn’t live on for just a few hours on a social media feed before it gets buried. It lives on in print for millions of people to read and to talk about in their lessons. And to hold up to their children as this is a bad example. Don’t be like Lehman and Lemuel. Because they were bad kids, you don’t want to be like them. There’s so many opportunities for shame there for Lehi and Sariah. And I wonder sometimes how they feel about having their dirty family laundry, so public.

And they don’t even have the option to clarify anything in the comments section, either a feed, right, they just, it just sits in lies and we get to interpret it and, and talk about it and all the things that we do with the examples that we have from their family. But here’s the truth. Hiding these things about ourselves does not ever solve anything, it actually perpetuates the feeling of shame because it keeps you isolated, and thinking that you failed and that there’s something wrong with you. And it’s very difficult as a parent, even the best of parents struggle with not letting their kids choices defined something about them. In fact, that’s a very, very common way to think is that whatever my kids do, it’s a reflection on me. And I think as society also we perpetuate that that is the truth. Like your kids choices do reflect on you. So it’s something that we take on ourselves, but it’s actually not true.

There’s actually a lot of separation. And we don’t need to take upon ourselves a lot of the choices that our kids make, and make it mean something about us. Now saying that is one thing and doing it is another thing, but it is an idea that we need to put out into the world and try to live more into as we look at this parenting journey. And in order to have the ability to move on and learn from our experiences. We have to be able to acknowledge that Life is messy, and that we are all flawed human beings living in an imperfect world that includes your flies and your child’s flies. And this job of parenting that you have is such a refining role as a person, it’s there to refine you, to help you to grow into the kind of person that is more Christ like. But we don’t usually look at it that way, especially when we’re caught in these feelings of shame. And in the hiding.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Brene Brown, I suggest that you become familiar with her. She talks a lot about shame. And she’s got a great YouTube, actually several great YouTube videos that you can go watch, to start becoming acquainted with her. But she talks a lot about shame. She is a shame researcher. And she says the antidote to shame is to be vulnerable. This is just some of the ways that vulnerability looks like in our life. So that word vulnerable is who wants to be vulnerable, that sounds terrible. But look at it a little differently. Maybe you’ll find a way that you can start to combat shame as it shows up in your life. And the first one is to connect with other people reaching out to someone to talk to connecting with other people who are also going through some hard things that they don’t maybe know how they feel about them.

Or maybe they’re having a hard time with their parenting, reach out and connect with other people. So reach out and find connections in a way that feels supportive. Like you’re not alone, it’s so easy to feel like you are all alone in what you’re dealing with. And when you begin to share with others, you find a lot of commonality that you didn’t see before. And maybe in talking to other people, you can begin to see your situation in a little bit different light might give you some insights into what you’re dealing with. The next thing to be vulnerable, is to show compassion. Now that means not beating yourself up, because you think you should have done something differently. Or you should have been better, or that you somehow have messed everything up. But maybe acknowledging to yourself that you wish things were different, but they aren’t.

And you’re having a hard time with that. Be compassionate with yourself, for having a hard time with the way that things are. And having compassion for yourself as a flawed human being living in an imperfect world. And sometimes that business of learning and growing is messy. And that’s okay. Have compassion around all of that. And at the same time, have some compassion for your child, that they are also a flawed human being living in an imperfect world, trying to figure out just like you are, how to learn and grow in this messy world. Have some compassion for yourself, have some compassion for your child, where they’re wherever that may be. The third thing I want you to pay attention to is having courage. Now, courage in the way that having the courage to speak what is true for you, having the courage to say to yourself or to somebody else, I’m having a hard time with this. Now, it might be to acknowledge that to friends or a spouse, sometimes your child but not always your child. In fact, be very careful if you decide to express this to your child. Because if it doesn’t move forward their relationship they might not understand that you are struggling with something that they’re struggling with. They don’t want to hear that. Sometimes we don’t share our parenting struggles with our children.

Now I have a friend whose son recently married another man and she’s really struggling with that she was struggling I talked to her quite a bit going up to the wedding to the events themselves and how she got through that day. And I visited with her again recently and and she said you know I can’t just I just can’t say the words that my son has a husband. She said they stick in her throat and she doesn’t know like what to call her son’s husband or how to introduce him to someone But having the courage to speak the truth and let it land however it may, because you don’t have the ability to control how other people think of you.

You, we think that we do, we think that we can show up a certain way and control how people think about us. But we just don’t. So having the courage to speak what is true for you. It does not mean you verbally vomit all over someone else, and spill emotionally, everything that’s going on. But it means you speak your truth to someone who has earned the right to hear it. Someone who you feel is safe and trustworthy. Now it’s much easier to sit in shame than it is to seek connection and find compassion for yourself, and for your child, and to exercise courage in speaking up. And remember, Satan’s greatest tool is to hoist all that shame on us, and then go tell us to hide just like he did to Adam and Eve. And Jesus Christ is the one who tells us to come out of hiding, to pick ourselves up and to keep moving forward. And as you move through your life, learning from your experiences, and allowing yourself to become more like Christ, through those experiences, you will be able to come out of hiding and shame. Because shame will keep you stuck in not learning from your parenting experiences.

And that’s really why you’re here on the earth, it will keep you stuck in failing to grow closer to Christ, through the experiences that you’re having. parenting has the ability to teach you more than any other experience that you will have on this earth. But not if you think you have to do it perfectly. Or if all you can focus on is the ways that you think that you failed. You were never supposed to be a perfect parent, you only came to earth a few short years before that child. And together you will learn to turn to Christ and let Him heal you and your relationships. And you can be the one that models that for your child, turning to Christ in love and faith, modeling repentance and change. But you can’t do that if you are stuck in shame and feelings of failure.

That’s what I have for you today. I hope that you really take these ideas of parenting and shame and take a look at your own life, and your own thoughts and your own way that this might be showing up for you.

Now I am starting a new coaching program soon. And I’m accepting applications for the beta launch right now. This program is going to include things like learning how to combat the shame that I’ve talked about in this podcast episode. Knowing in your relationship with your child, what’s yours to deal with, what is your child’s giving up the blame and guilt on both sides. Learning how and when to set boundaries with your adult child, dealing with a comparison of others and with the criticism and judgments of others. Knowing how and when to help your adult child with the things that they’re struggling with. And knowing how to create joy in your life now, and moving into a future that you look forward to living. So if you would like to be a part of this beta launch program, I want you to go to the link in the show notes and fill out the application. I’m only accepting a limited number of people into this beta version. So if this sounds like something that you need in your life right now, I want you to go to the show notes and fill out the form. I look forward to seeing the application when you send it in.

Thanks for being here with me today and I’ll see you next week.