• Kat G

Trauma & Parenting

Okay so this is going to sound dramatic (or so my anxiety keeps saying), but instead of listing out all the traumatic events of my life, some small and some very, very large, in order to gain "credibility" - I'm going to ask you to just go into this believing me when I say I have lived through trauma at about every phase of my life. With that said I am also cognizant of the fact that I have not lived many kinds of trauma others reading this might have. This is not meant to diminish your experience. I am only able to speak from my own experiences.

 

I got really blessed by my family. They are loving, caring and supportive. But my parents grew up in conservative Christian homes and therefore were limited by their own experiences in regards to open communication about hard or "taboo" topics. While I knew I could go to them for anything I needed health wise, financially, education wise, etc. I didn't feel comfortable speaking to them about my emotional wellbeing in any great depth until my late twenties. Now, this wasn't all on them. We all know that mental health awareness has only started coming to the forefront of social conversation in the last decade or so, and even now it is still "taboo" in many business and other environments. Pair all of that with the fact that I spent half my life with someone unfamiliar with, uncomfortable with and incapable of supporting my mental health struggles past a certain level and it is no wonder I wasn't really able to communicate or regulate my emotions healthily.


So around the time I was fighting my battle with PPD and the decline of my marriage, I realized that if I didn't start talking to those closest to me about my mental health, asking for support and opening dialogues with them (including my amazingly supportive parents), then I wasn't going to be able to live as full and happy a life as I wanted. Therapy just wasn't enough anymore (and probably hadn't been for many years). I needed to be able to have real conversations with my parents, my closest friends and my partner about my mental health struggles, triggers and honestly just my every day emotions and feelings. Little did I know this would be the ground work for this very blog and my journey to transparent living.



Overlapping with my PPD, mental health awakening, and journey to transparency was and is EB's development. My astounding first born has already lived through some of my worst mental health battles and remained resilient and strong even though she isn't even four years old yet. I am forever grateful she is unlikely to remember any of it. But I want to do better for her and help foster in her a mental health support system that allows her to openly communicate her feelings, know her feelings are valid and normal and that she has support from me, always.



Much like my parents though, I am limited by my own experiences. Not having grown up in an environment or society that focused on mental health and emotional well being, I don't really know how to do it naturally. Luckily I am surrounded by some amazing women and mothers who also want to raise their children to be well rounded, emotionally intelligent humans. Thanks to them, I have been seeing a lot of references to Gentle Parenting. I'll admit I haven't dove into this topic substantially, but everything I see about it makes me feel like this is where my parenting path is leading. I recently found a Tik Tok creator who focuses on this subject and through my initial perusing of her feed, found a really helpful tool for helping to validate EB's emotional response to "no" when it is a situation that effects her safety. I've been practicing it over the last week or so and have seen a major improvement in the length of her frustration or melt down when I tell her, "I understand you are [frustrated/mad], but it is my job to keep you safe so we can't do that." Today in fact on a walk when she wanted to cross the street alone, I was able to look at her before the melt down ensued and ask her, "What's my job?", and she looked at me calmly and said, "To keep me safe." She held my hand and we crossed the street. I hope to uncover more logical, helpful tools like this. BUT -


While I feel very optimistic about this parenting style, I am also aware it is going to push me to be even more self aware and emotionally regulated because the key to Gentle Parenting is staying calm. I know I'm not going to get it right all the time, no parent can or does. But I know I want my children to grow up with a good mental health support structure and with the tools they need to emotionally regulate this crazy world in hopes that it will allow them to live more peacefully and confidently when everyone else is losing their $#!+. At the end of the day I just have to do the best I can and keep showing up.


If you have any book, blog or podcast recommendations for Gentle Parenting please drop them below in the comments. I would be forever grateful.



To my munchkins, I LOVE YOU <3 Always, forever and with NO EXCEPTIONS.

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