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Parenting Reveals Your Weaknesses

brené brown failure negative emotions negative thoughts parenting shame Jul 23, 2022
The heads of an ostrich and her baby against a dark gray background by Christine Sponchia of Pixabay
Parenting is so much harder than I imagined.
I love my kids. And I am grateful for them. And they have taught me so many things overtly (“Mom, did you know [insert fact about WWII airplanes or Minecraft here?]” and covertly (I didn’t know that Hand Foot Mouth disease could cause fingernails and toenails to fall off until this happened to my son. They grew back. It’s a thing.).
But parenting brings up a lot of difficult feelings and challenges that I couldn’t have imagined. Unresolved childhood traumas (big T and little t traumas, depending upon your circumstances), emotions that you struggle with, boundaries that you don’t want to set/maintain.
When I started studying for certification in Brené Brown’s work, The Daring Way™, a few years ago, shame and shame resilience were front and center amongst the topics. And I remember a lot of tears, my own and others, as we did the in-person trainings, wrestling with my own shame-gremlins. If you don’t know Brené, she is a PhD and LMSW who researches and writes about shame, vulnerability, courage and other human affects. Check out her first TED talk here, “The Power of Vulnerability;” this remains one of the top 5 viewed TED talks of all time, even today, 12 years after it was released).
I don’t think that I ever thought I would be “done,” with shame. But it did seem that I understood my own feelings of shame better, and certainly could have critical conversations with other adults about the role of shame in our lives.
But none of that prepared me for watching my son wrestle with shame, and seeing him in deep pain.
Brené and others distinguish shame and guilt in this way: guilt = “I did something bad” and shame = “I am bad.” Guilt is a healthy response to unfavorable outcomes, and often results in making amends. Shame is not. Shame is attributing an outcome of our actions (intentional or accidental) as proof that we are not worthy of love and connection with others. Shame results in isolation and feelings of unworthiness.
And so, watching my son respond to criticism with shame, instead of guilt, carries a lot of weight with me. And I see in him where my own perfectionist habits and how I have responded to criticism are being passed down. And it’s a gut punch.
But I know that this story isn’t over.
For him or for me.
And if you are a parent, and experience similar challenges where your kids are showing you what is not yet healed in you, I want to normalize this, and say that you aren’t alone.
And the response to this challenge can be to heal it now, for them and for you. I’m deepening my shame resilience practices and helping him do the same, and we both now have help for this. The same way that a parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD may realize that they too struggle with this and choose to get help for both. Or a parent with unresolved PTSD could choose to get help in order to not pass on their own generational trauma.
It's never too late to make a change.

Hi There!

I'm Megan. I'm a Physician and a Life Coach and a Mom. I created this blog to help other Physicians and Physician-Moms learn more about why they feel exhausted, burned-out and overwhelmed, and how to start to make changes. I hope that you enjoy what you read, and that it helps you along your journey. And hey, if you want to talk about coaching with me, I'm here for that too! I offer a free 1:1 call to see if we are a good fit. Click the button below to register today.

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