Updated: Nov 16, 2021
I want to address a big shadow side of parenting (or being the caretaker of children), that is seldom talked about. When parents have kids with the idea that now, finally, there will be someone (the child) who loves them (the adult) unconditionally and for eternity. Because a child is depending on us for their safety and survival, that can easily feed an unmet need in the adult; to feel important, valued, needed and loved. This is, obviously, deeply ingrained in the subconscious, and most likely not in the adults awareness. I´m not saying that this is always the case and it certainly is not the main reason for most people for why they have kids; but it is a truth that needs to be acknowledged that this is can be a not so pretty part of the story. Something that can be incredibly hard to admit to as an adult, because it messes up the idea we have of ourselves as caretakers. Children are often born with an unspoken expectation on them; you are to always adore and love your parents. This falsely lightens the burden of the adult to take care of what truly was their responsibility to begin with; to themselves do the work necessary to meet their deep rooted need for love and healing. The child’s job is never, and I repeat never; to do this job for the parent.
I will add that this, of course, does not imply that children don't organically have a deep love for their parents. I want to suggest, however, that this is not for the parent to feed upon from their own lack.
If you grew up in a circumstance where you were expected to be the source of joy and love for your caretakers, this could effect in an unhealthy sense of responsibility. This might´ve lead to the pattern of being the pleaser, the golden child, and for potential guilt in situations where you made choices that somehow didn´t include doing what was delighting to your family. Or, that you never made choices that was true for you, because you always put the others before your self. As an adult, your parents still might rely on you to be their source of company, attention, approval and a sense of worth and self. This was never your responsibility in the first place. Creating relationships where you authentically want to show up for and spend time with your family is something very different than doing so out of guilt or shame.
1. Open up to the idea that it is not your child’s job to make you feel love, seen, valuable or important
2. If you catch yourself doing this, please start to look at alternative ways to meet this need. It can be trough therapy, connecting with other loved ones, or reach out to me for coaching!
3. Open up to the idea that it was never, and still isn´t, your job to be the source of love and joy for your parents unless it´s truly authentic for you to take that role.
4. When you truly want to be a source of love and joy for other people, do so from a sense of giving freely and from you conscious choice and free will. Not from an unhealthy or false expectations from yourself or others.
For a child to truly be allowed to thrive and be the free individual that she or he really is; let them be released from roles that was not theirs to begin with. And it must be the adults work to find their appropriate sources to have their own needs met.
If you want to explore this topic further, reach out for a 1-on-1 session with me.