Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Parenting Ourselves Out of Broken Families

I often ask my readers to suggest blog entries.  For those who know me I may get an infinite amount of ideas; but honestly sometimes I do go blank.  (LOL)  In the last few years I’ve noticed that many of the questions I receive are focused on “parenting.”  There seems to be a lot of interest on the “13 Moons of the Wheel”; which speaks of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual development.   Parents often like how the Moons can guide them to better understand their children and help them grow up into happy, independent adults.

Annie recently left a comment on the blog page.  She mentioned how she was the sole provider to two children even though the kids spend time with their father and his girlfriend through out the week.

“I agree that parents need to teach their children to problem solve, “ she explained after reading my latest blog entry, “my son just turned 5, and lately we are seeing anger arise in him.  I am finding it difficult to navigate reason with my children, and all of the other people involved in their lives (Grandparents, father, Childcare providers). I want to teach my children to walk sacred, but I find it difficult when everyone and their dog has an opinion on how a child should be raised. I feel that my son is raging because he feels he does not have a voice. I find myself asking what is the right thing to do for them? What advise might you have for children being raised in "broken" families?? 
I would love your perspective   ---

At first when I thought of writing this blog I had every intention of exploring the topic on internet to see what I could find.  Unfortunately, when I attempted to do some research I couldn’t get anywhere because my screen froze.  G soon explained that it was his fault because he was downloading a substantial file; which literally paralyzed our central system. 

“Two hours tops,” he said with a sheepish smile and an apologetic shrug, “and you’ll be able to use internet again.

I had to ask myself the question: “Why wasn’t I referring to my own story?”  After all when it comes to dysfunctional or broken families many of us have more than a few stories to share.  I guess there’s always some guilt, shame and regret attached to the notion that “we are children of dysfunctional families.”  I know as I was growing up that the social consensus was “don’t expose any dirty family laundry.”  Loyalty or betrayal seemed to be wrapped up with the concept of love.  If you wanted a family you protected all of their skeletons as well…

These days many family issues are blamed on substance addictions (alcohol or drugs).   Not to say that addictions aren’t an issue but honestly as I was growing up it wasn’t so much my father’s alcoholism that bothered me; but more so what drove him to it.  My parents fought all the time and they never seemed to use conflict to resolve issues.  Like many modern parents they fought over everything and never explored what lay underneath the surface.  They were so busy reacting to each other that they rarely had time to pay attention to us (myself and two siblings). 

If someone would have cared about my feelings at the time, I would have said: “I can’t stand the inconsistency, the lack of presence, and my parent’s constant need to be heard!”

In Sacred Circle tradition the concept of Nation and community is an extension of family and couple relationships.  In other words how we are as a Society reflects what we are as a family and even as individuals.  What you are in your own personal story has an affect on your relationships and eventually on your family, your community and your Nation.  People often say that they are “powerless” when it comes to changing the World but they couldn’t be further from the truth.

I believe that all children are born with an acute awareness of the World of Mystery.  They are sensitive to their environment and they pick up on sacred knowledge whether it speaks of the ego (wants and needs), the totemic (relations), or the ancestral (stories land, and people).  Where most people like to define infants as vulnerable and dependent on their families; Sacred Circle speaks of infancy as a “satellite phase”.    For the first 6 moons of the first year of our life – we actually orbit around people and our environment collecting data; sensitive to a new world while accessing the cellular knowledge of our new incarnation.  Through dreams we remember:  The past, the present and the future.

Children know more then any of us can imagine.  They remember realities and worlds we’ve never seen before; they remember incidents from a distant past; they feel the difference between truth and lie; they know when their parents aren’t well or are not getting along; but most of all they can tell when they are not loved or not accepted. They can sense issues and they are incredibly aware of how these issues can affect everyone in the family.

Dr.Phil often says that children need to be loved.  If you take the time to love your children they will willingly and easily forgive you for everything.  Yet, I believe that love isn’t everything.  On the Medicine Wheel it represents only one stone, one perspective out of 36. 

When I had my children 23 years ago I understood how important it was to devote to their growth.  If anything the main characteristic we can all agree on when it comes to having children is that they grow with each inhale and exhale; and they grow in and out of numerous life lessons very quickly.  It is so important to carefully choose the caregivers in your children’s lives if you can’t be there for them constantly and consistently.  Make sure you take the time to interview these people and to connect with them intimately.  Choose the kind of individuals who share the same beliefs or the same basic ways of thinking and living.  In tribal times they understood that it took a “village to educate a child.”  The same applies today.  What is important is not the number of people we count in the life of our children but the presence, the consistency, the resources; which are available to them and their growth process.

When it comes to ex-husbands or ex-wives and the reconstruction of new families, it’s important to make an effort to get along.   If you didn’t take the time to deal with your issues while in the relationship, it’s time to deal with the issues once out of it.  It’s important to teach our children that we also learn from our mistakes and that we are willing to change; to learn; to heal; and to do whatever needs to be done to keep our family together.  It doesn’t matter how many step mothers, step fathers, step grand-parents and step siblings are added to the mix.  A family is in the end a community, and a Nation.  The more the merrier.  The important factor is that we are all willing to work at staying together and making our family strong, well and whole. 

When looking at the Moons on our Sacred Circle we can identify a long list of details; which may hurt our children, the same way that we can jot down a long list of ways to empower our kids.  Every moon is a combination of light and shadow.  The idea is to bring to balance the good and the bad. 

I had high risk pregnancies and both my children were born through emergency caesarians.  Before my children were even born my husband and I discussed potential realities.  We were both committed to giving our children the best.  If it meant I would pass away the best would be --  my husband.  Preparing him to a potential widowed life was part of our gestation story.  It’s incredible how many stories we explored during my first pregnancy.  We learnt through this process how important it was to be prepared and to continuously remind each other of the main focus:  Our family!  When CT and KT were born we knew that we were embarking on a journey of initiation where every day was about preparing them to become adults and preparing us to let them go.

It meant incorporating in every experience or event this notion of “preparing” and “letting go.”  It meant being aware of what we were living; what we were learning; what we were healing; and how we were doing it all together. 

I remember whispering to the children as I rocked them to sleep: “You’ll grow up to be an incredible person one day. Don't forget you were here to learn, to heal and to grow."  

Today when I ask my children: "Why do you think you were born."
They always answer: "To learn, to heal, and to finish what we were meant to finish."  

I believe in them and I believe in my husband and I.  The best advice I could ever give a single mom or single dad is to “be there:” Not just in body but also in presence.  Listen to your children; laugh with them; give them routine and discipline; and most of all guide them towards who they are.  Our children whether during infancy, childhood, adolescence or even adulthood want us “to be there.” They need our experience, our wisdom and love to hear our stories. 

During the last year, WM (a friend and initiate) has shared with me his journey with his parents who are both ill with dementia.  WM who is in his 50's explains to me every time we get a chance to talk how precious it is to be able to sit around and remember.  He finds it difficult to see his parents suffer through the horrible consequences of “forgetting:”  Forgetting faces, forgetting names, forgetting loved ones… 

How horrible would that be???

Recently I received an e-mail from Emily asking me about the Moon of Self-Value.  In her e-mail she expressed difficulty with self-esteem and self-value. 

“I depend too much on others giving me value or telling me I'm worth it,” she said, “but it doesn't work long term. It never worked, I always return to the same point - empty.”

Ironically, EM asked for some help.
“Is it a matter of constantly telling myself I am worthy?” she asked, “are there any tips? How do we work this Moon?”

When Annie left her comment about “broken families” I realized that both EM and Annie’s question were related.  Dysfunctional family settings often destroy our sense of self-confidence, self-esteem and self-value.  It takes effort and time to heal the effects of broken families and empower our selves.  Sometimes it takes remembering what we lost and why we lost it before being able to reclaim it.  One thing is for sure we need to remind ourselves that our "story" is precious no matter what it is and we should never be ashamed of claiming it.  Learning to love it and understand it may take time and work -- but believe me when I say: "It's the only path and purpose that should guide your steps day in and day out."  

Your story is the main reason why you are here:  Remember it, work through it,  share it, and make sure that if ever you are meant to forget it you can do it without regret.  Inspire the people around you to do the same.  This is the wisdom of the Turtle.  

One thing is for sure – whether we are looking at children from a parent perspective; children from an inner children perspective; or children in general --- we all have the responsibility to “parent” the World around us and within us in order to give our family, our community and our Nation a fighting chance. 

P.S. :If you want to learn to parent with the Wheel – come and learn about the Moons at one of our Workshops.


Ally said...

Lisa, thank you for this entry. As I look at my own life growing up in a dysfunctional family, I am also looking at the son my husband and I have raised, and realize that in many ways we have also been a dysfunctional family. We dont have a "broken home" as such (my husband and I have been married for 35 years this year) but, we have had a very difference experience in that we had a literal role reversal while our son was growing up. It's given me a lot to look at. Again, thanks!


annie jackson said...

lots and lots of super valuable info here lisa! Im still processing it all of course and will probably reply again. I believe it takes a village to educate a child too, I always say is it takes a village to raise a child-- does "raising" a child and "educating" a child mean the same thing?*pondering* Me and the girlfriend- not mine lol- have just recently touched on that subject, we seem to have more communication skills toward eachother-- actually way better than me and the ex! I just would rather go through her first HA! I think because he makes me MENTAL. So rather not have to deal with him directly. It actually works fairly nicely. Other than that if I have to talk to him its through texts. Anyhoo point being we all TRY to work together for the children. Example: they have agreed to pick up my "shifts" as I attend the upcoming workshop. Things like that..
Luckily I do have many support systems in place for the children, which is a blessing and burden at the same time. I sometimes wish that we can be a little more secluded and not so much in the OPEN-- I live right NEXT DOOR to my mother, so I feel we are constantly being monitored. I suppose there was a time for it, but now I feel weve earned some privacy. I just feel we need a little space so we can fully embrace a Shamanic Spiritual Path and stand in my personal power! It really is time to break up that old energy!

"Your story is the main reason why you are here: Remember it, work through it, share it, and make sure that if ever you are meant to forget it you can do it without regret. Inspire the people around you to do the same. This is the wisdom of the Turtle."

jenna sommers said...

i loved reading your post. you've put a light on a serious issue here and i admire you for that. do share more related topics with us i really like keeping up with your posts, thanks

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Aliette Frank said...

Lisa, this is really helpful for me to read right now, thank you. I'm working on learning how to 'have the relationships' I never had in my own family. The hardest part is believing that someone could actually love me and want me as a girlfriend. I'm stuck in an illusion that it just can't be. I want to see things as they really are.

annie jackson said...

okaaay. There has been much movement with my mother. We had a huge talk today regarding eachothers boundaries, thanks to the nudging and guidance of MaryRose to face this instead of turning my back to it in shadow. We both feel our time as neigbors have been a huge growing experience for both and we have worked on a lot of our baggage together through those years. Today-just now- it feels we have finally agreed that much space is needed when I have room to move on with life and she has to finally "learn to breathe on her own" as she explained. She is my sister and MOTHER. We are very interconnected in our own personal stories--Ancestral stories and we are healing it together :)
This has been a reaccuring theme with us and I finally feel we have completed this wheel.
Thankyou Lisa for initiating this again- although painful but purposeful.
Much love and Respect