She started by saying, “My marriage is great, and my husband is super supportive and we’ve got a great connection.”
I said, “I love hearing that. So, what had you reach out to me?”
She said, “I’m reaching out because my relationship with my parents isn’t good. About a year ago they moved away and once they moved I decided that I was going to stop talking to them. And I have to say, not talking to them over this past year has felt really great.
But I’m noticing something you’ve talked about.
I have a pattern of turning into my Mother with my kids, which is the last thing I want.
What I’m resisting in my parents is coming up inside of me and impacting my relationship with my children. I don’t like it, and want to understand why this is happening and can I do anything about it?”
I said, “It’s so good that you’re aware enough to have connected that for yourself. It’s absolutely true that our relationship with our parents (or those that raised us) and our families impacts how we relate to our kids. We continue to pass down our pain from our childhood to our children when we haven’t dealt with it, whether it’s conscious or unconscious.
What made you stop talking with your parents?”, I asked.
”My Mom is really critical of me,” she said. “I can’t do anything right, and it’s so difficult to be around her. She never seems to say anything good or kind about me, and I’ve tried to have a relationship with her but nothing works and she never changes. I just keep feeling bad about myself around her.
And my Dad doesn’t do anything to protect me with my Mom. He simply goes along with whatever she says or he doesn’t say anything at all. So, our relationship is completely disconnected.”
I said, “That must feel really hard and frustrating. You’ve tried all kinds of ways to connect to your Mom, but just keep leaving those interactions with her feeling the same way, criticized and uncared for. Then to have a Dad that also doesn’t stand up for you, probably makes you feel pretty alone around them.”
She said, “Exactly.”
I asked, “Do you find yourself being critical like your Mom with your kids?”
She said, “YES, and I hate it. I feel like I turn into her when they aren’t listening to me.”
“That happens because of all the pain and resistance around your Mom,” I told her. “In the subconscious that unresolved pain gets a lot of attention. So when someone doesn’t hear you or get you or see you, like your Mom, all of that pain around your Mom comes up.
This is the same thing that’s happening between you and your Mom. Her pain from her childhood is getting passed down to you. It’s often an intergenerational family pattern.
Here’s the thing.
You feel defeated around your Mom, because you feel like you’ve tried to tell her how you feel and she just doesn’t get it or change.
The way to start healing that pain for yourself is first understanding that you aren’t responsible for her changing. In fact wanting her to be different is actually keeping you from healing your own pain with her.
We think that our problems will be solved when our parents change, when the real work is uncovering the emotions that we had when we were younger and still feel.
One of the key question I ask my clients is what did you really need to hear from your Mom? What would help you feel loved and cared for from her?”
This inner work, which is specific to each person’s translations and experiences, then allows us to have conversations with our parents that help us shift our resistance and our patterns through them, without them having to change.
So, I asked her, “How did you feel when your Mom criticized you when you were younger?
She said, “I just felt really sad and upset.”
I dug deeper, “What made you sad?”
She said, “I just felt like she didn’t want me. Like I was a burden to her.”
I said, “Amazing, you got to the root feelings and thoughts pretty quickly. It can take people quite a long time to tap into those emotions.”
I then asked, “Can you pinpoint a moment that stands out for you when you were younger, where your Mom was upset at you? Can you transport yourself into the shoes of that little girl? What is it that she really wants to hear from her Mom in that moment?”
This took a bit, but then she said, “I just wanted to hear her say that I did a good job. That she was proud of me.”
“Exactly, have you ever told her that you need to hear that?” I asked.
She said, “Never.”
That’s the kind of work we will be doing together in The Parent Work™ and that is just scratching the surface.
She said, “I didn’t know there was another way. This feels hopeful. It feels good to know that there’s a path to moving out of my own pain with my parents, which will then help break my own patterns that keep me from connecting with my kids.”
Can you see what patterns are keeping you from connection with those closest to you? Would love to hear. Simply reply in the comments below.