Thriving, Not Just Surviving Childhood

Thriving, not just surviving.

Children’s talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives. – Maya Angelou

How many times have you heard (or even said), “I survived [spankings/punishment/hard work/not getting attention] as a child. So will they.”?

Countless I’d bet.

It’s the common response anytime compassionate, mindful, organic parents talk about the alternatives they’ve found to control, coercion, and hurtfulness of children.

We all want the best for our children. Our ideas of how to provide that are obviously radically different than the mainstream.

But more than our ideas of how to provide the best for our kids, it seems like many parents have a deep resistance toward providing for our kids the things they didn’t have.

Oh not the “stuff”…lots of parents can easily provide more stuff than they had.

But so few are ready to provide in deeper ways.

So few are comfortable providing more love, more affection and attention, more respect, more honor, more dignity, more autonomy.

Is it because we simply don’t know how?

Or is it because to provide our kids with more of those things means first admit that we didn’t receive it ourselves?

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, that you may have been intentionally and unnecessarily hurt and lied to as a child. That your deeper human needs were not met. That you were made to feel as though your feelings, your ideas, your desires were less important than anyone else’s.

Shit. It’s downright unfair. After all, if we went through it, shouldn’t they have to?

Because “Dammit! It’s MY TURN to finally feel in control!”

“Oh please. I survived.”


And is that all you want for your child: Survival?

Or do they deserve to thrive?

I’m inclined to agree with Maya Angelou up there…just because we didn’t know there was an alternative doesn’t mean it was good for us, doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for our kids.

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7 Comments. Leave new

it’s true, we did survive. the way we did it, was that we told ourselves we were intrinsically bad, because our providers must be intrinsically good, right? we needed them to survive, so we internalized that lie, and if we’re still internalizing it, we’re passing on that legacy. children made to feel bad and internalize that they are bad, so that they can survive. being a survivor is NOT always fun and it sets the bar pretty darn low for what we want our kids to experience, huh.

For some I believe there is an element of not wanting to judge our parents. I am absolutely convinced that my sister-in-law has made many of her parenting choices in an effort to uphold what my long-deceased mother-in-law did as a parent. Birth choices, infant feeding, parenting, discipline… Too often I see parents – particularly we mothers, sadly – express that making a different choice “makes” the other parent feel judged.

Whatever the case, our actions are ours: we can own only what we ourselves do. Just yesterday I was watching one of your videos, the one about three rules for dealing with a meltdown, and what you said about emotions really resonated with me. Our emotions are our own and we must not place the responsibility on our children for how we respond to things. Similarly, the choices my parents or my in-laws made for me or my husband are not, ultimately, responsible or even particularly important in determining the choices we will make for our children. Why not try to do better, after all?

I’ve said that phrase … several times … mostly to my in-laws. lol

I think I had the best parents in creation! I think my sister & I turned out great. My husband went through more “rough patches” than I did but he came out good as well. I always say “I want my kids to turn out better than I did.” I don’t want to go off of what my parents or my husband’s parents did (or didn’t do) just because “it worked for them.” (a completely subjective phrase in my book anyway :o). My kid isn’t me. Just as I don’t think siblings should be raised the EXACT same, my kids definitely shouldn’t be raised the exact same way I was.

“Is it because we simply don’t know how? Or is it because to provide our kids with more of those things means first admit that we didn’t receive it ourselves?” – I say the answer to your questions is yes. :o) How can anyone give something they’ve never received to someone else?

love this post. Exactly my thoughts on the matter. WIll be sharing.
It’s also something you see in companies:
– when I was in your position, I didn’t receive x or y so why should you? Now it’s my time to get the big office, long lunches, two secretaries…

THANK YOU for writing this post. i often get into conflict with people who take offense to my posts regrading taking a strong stand against spanking, time outs, CIO or other forms of subtle yet deeply impactful emotional, spiritual and physical violence parents regularly inflict on their children. Often i get the “don’t judge other mothers” or “it happened to me and i turned out fine” these are all the fine tuned utterances of denial. I feel strongly that more parents need to call themselves to task, do some deep soul searching and recognise how much of their own shadow, their own pain from thweir childhoods manifests in the way they raise their children vis a vis the inflicting of the same patterns of pain that were inflicted on them. Many people are so incredibly numb and have such incredible defenses to avoid having to face their own pain, I wonder if profound change is possible sometimes.

Sure I survived … and then spent the next 20 years getting over all that junk. I sure don’t want to pass that down to my children. The cycle ends with me.

IMO, I think often times we continue the patterns pasted down from our childhood because ….. we have not figured out how to love that little girl or boy ( us ). We have not given ourself permission to thrive. So, how can we be there for our own children in a new, better way? We first need to be able to care for ourselves in a different way.

Once we learn to not just survive, but thrive in this world, we can give so much more to our children and our family. It takes hard work breaking the cycles. Starting out on a different parenting path then are parents. Yet, it can be done.

Great post!

Thank you for this post. I was just thinking about this recently because I was feeling angry when someone insisted that they got spanked and this and that harsh punishment as a child, and they turned out “fine”. If you think that it’s permissible to hand down such punishments to your children and take advantage of your bigger size and greater strength to “teach a lesson”, you did not turn out fine! My significant other and I have promised each other that we will be the end of the cycle of harshness if and when we have children. I’m glad that there are others out there who feel the same way, and I’m glad that you spoke up about it on your blog.

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