One of the symptoms of being raised in a domination culture is the disconnection we experience from our inner wisdom, our authentic selves and our relationship instincts.
In his latest book, The Myth of Normal, Gabor Mate talks about how, following the instructions from her doctor, his mother would leave him to cry in his crib when he was an infant. Although she felt deep distress about this – every instinct in her body told her to pick up and soothe her child – she felt like she “couldn’t” because she’d promised the doctor not to spoil her child.
I often hear stories like this from parents.
Sometimes their inner instincts are at odds with what “experts” are telling them, sometimes they are trying to interrupt parenting practices that are normalized but feel “wrong” to them, and sometimes they find themselves stuck and confused between when to “discipline” their children, and when to “let it go.”
Parents can worry that if they don’t assert their dominance or threaten their children with punishment or harm, that chaos will reign. They tell themselves that they send their children to their rooms, or yell at them, or remove their access to friends “for their children’s good.” And, I believe them: they love their children and their intentions are good. That’s not the problem.
Instead, the problem lies in how we’ve forgotten how to trust the process of love, attachment, connection and belonging. And this, too, is a symptom of being raised in domination cultures.
If you’re struggling with your child, your inner child, or any human for that matter, keep this in mind:
We humans are wired for connection and belonging.
Children want to belong and connect to their parents: they are wired for a wide range of behaviors that enforce and nurture this attachment and they naturally trust in their parent’s example and guidance for their own healthy development.
They want to be physically near their parents, they want to be held, cuddled, seen and delighted in by their parents.
They want to be like you, to emulate you, to copy you.
They are wired to literally take you in and become like you.
When you show up relational, caring, trustworthy and attached, they will become that way too.
They want to be good for you, accepted by you, enjoyed by you.
And, they will want this without any coercion, punishment or reward whatsoever.
There is nothing harshness can do that kindness can’t do better.
Disciplining your child should not be a euphemism for permission to hit, hurt, belittle, humiliate, violate or harm your child because you’re scared about what might happen if they don’t obey you.
There is a better way.
Want to transform domination-based parenting habits into more relational ones?
Registration for my Parenting Masterclass is open until February 27th.
We take in a new cohort of people once a year, so this is your chance to join us if you’re interested in becoming a more relationally connected parent- no matter what age your children might be. I hope to see you on March 1st at our first live call.
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