My attempt at shedding light on codependency in motherhood. Or Fatherhood.
You need to realize that you are the parent. You have a specific purpose. To care for and raise your kids and love them. Not to covet their undivided love. Needing your kids dependance and "larger than life" love for your own validation can be an underlying current in the system of codependence. That type of "love" is a lot for anyone to carry. Especially a kid. It will weigh them down, and it may even push them away from you. Enough philosophy, lets get down to practical stuff!
Symptoms and Solutions for Codependent Parenting:
#1 Your kids are your weapon.
You use your kids to spite your husband, in laws, or parents. (Anyone, really) Things much more subtle, but similar to:
"The kids love me more, because of all the hard work I do for them."
"You don't have any say into our lives, the kids need me, and they don't need you.
"You never let me be who I wanted to be when I was growing up, but Your Grandkids will be raised to love everything you hate."
If you have a problem with people, tell them yourself. Subliminal messages are way less likely to resolve anything. And you are heaping baggage on your kids. So figure out a way to tell your husband, "I need a little more help in this area," or tell your in-laws, "Hubby and I are the ones who make the rules for the kids, but we are happy to have you involved by loving them. Right now I just need a bit of space as the mom." Or tell your journal, (NOT your blog,) that you will let your kids find out who they are, without being bitter even if you feel you didn't get that opportunity.
Don't hate, communicate.
#2 Over-babying your kids
Instead of letting your kids learn how to function in each new step of life, you teach them to rely more on you than is healthy. Parental help is amazing. Everyone should have parents that teach them how to sew, change a tire, give generously, cool an argument with kind words. (Thanks dad, mom.) But kids also need to learn how to push through, be diligent, make mistakes. Tie their own shoes, get an honest opinion. Use a metronome...Ahhem. I have a friend who feels crippled as an adult, because their parents never made them do anything on their own, like managing their bank account for instance, or filling out applications. By all means, be very involved in your kids lives. But remind yourself as often as you need to, that the goal of parenting is to produce able, kind adults. People who are independent with out being afraid of working on a team or being in healthy relationships. People who take responsiblity, people who are resolute. You may enjoy having your kids "over-need" you now, but believe me, its like spitting into the wind. (Eeewww.)
#3 BFF-ing your kids
I totally think that kids can be great friends with their parents. Starting at "my little buddy" and going all the way to a grandma taking the kids to see "granny great." Being friends with your kids is lovely. Be very involved with their lives, know their friends, teachers, leaders. Go places with them, (ie, school trips, mission trips, etc.) But give them space to breath. Ask them questions that not only allow them to have other likes and opinions than you, but that also help them think about why they like what they like, or why they have certain opinions. You may be a musician who raises a doctor, a lawyer and a hippie. That's great! Just because you didn't like tu-tus as a kid, (or earthworms) doesn't mean your kid won't like them. By all means, DO be friends with your kids, but be the parent first, and DO, please, PLEASE do, have healthy BOUNDARIES:
Don't complain about the annoyances you have with your spouse.
Don't talk about marriage problems with your kids.
Have other friends.
Don't get jealous of their friends. Or overly mad at their enemies.
Don't stalk them... Allow them to grow up, with age appropriate milestones.
Be involved in ministry/ community with them. And without them. Do both.
Don't pressure them to like, or dislike, the things that you like or dislike.
Love your children. Be involved in their lives. Wear their birthstones around your neck, and their names on your heart. But choose, daily and weekly, on New Year's and on birthdays, to remember that you are raising future adults. Teaching them to be functional adults. People who are able and determined. Who aren't afraid of crushingly heavy relationships. Who aren't masters of manipulation. Be as much of an example of a relationally healthy adult as is "You-mnly" possible. You're only human after all. But every step that YOU take towards a healthier parenting role, you allow them to grow up with that much MORE of a functional role model, and that much LESS baggage. So take it step by step and celebrate your small successes. After all, starting the first battle is a huge step toward winning the war.
I would LOVE some feedback on this.
Labels: Codependant, communication, Fatherhood, grow up, independent, Kids as Best Friends, manipulation, motherhood, single mom