6 Best Practices to Quit Projecting onto Your Children
Parenting. There's no one ultimate right way to go about the sometimes stressful, full-time business of helping little ones to thrive, but there's no shortage of perspectives and opinions.
One thing I know for sure is that all of our adulthood issues stem back to our childhood experiences. We each have our our inherent tendencies (nature), and from the moment we are born, we are imprinted and socialized based on our environmental surroundings (nurture).
Our personalities and psychological makeup are pretty much formed by the time we turn seven years old. As parents and caretakers of youth, it is especially important to be more encouraging and patient, and avoid being overly critical during these formative years.
Everything a child experiences leaves an indelible mark on their psyche, and will impact the way they perceive themselves and the world as they grow.
Projection is a defense mechanism that can occur in an instant, but it doesn't have to be so. We can do better by becoming more self aware. Here are 6 best practices to quit projecting onto children.
6 Best Practices to Quit Projecting onto Your Children
1. Be aware of the phenomena of projection and suppression
In psychology, projection is the act of attributing undesirable thoughts, feelings, and attitudes onto another person in order to avoid dealing with the perceived unpleasantness within oneself. This defense mechanism helps to reduce or “absolve” the feelings of guilt or stress within a person.
We all have suppressed and blocked off some aspects of ourselves that our own parents/guardians deemed unacceptable, because we depended on them to live.
It's a basic survival instinct, so we can't blame ourselves. It becomes a problem, however, when we allow our own blockages to hinder our children, who are born whole.
We just need to check ourselves. What energy are WE bringing into any encounter?
When we experience conflict with our children (or any other person), we must ask ourselves: What deep-seeded, unintegrated emotion has been split off into the subconscious, suppressed and ignored, and is now being triggered by this experience? How am I not being present in this moment to meet the needs of my child?
Read my column at Numerologist.com that addresses these very questions: "How to Heal the Chiron Wound through Shadow Integration and Root Work."
2. Don't use your children to make up for what you missed out on. Do encourage them to be their own unique selves.
"I'm never gonna be petty and disapproving like my mother was, and I'm gonna demonstrate that in my own relationship with my daughter."
"My father didn't know how to connect with me, so I make such an effort to communicate with my son, but he only shuts down more."
“My mom was so strict, I can't imagine being so cold and rigid with my own child.”
There's a tendency to compensate for what WE lacked in our own experiences, without taking into consideration the unique reality, context, and perspective of the child's.
The truth is, what YOU needed then and need now is likely very different from what your child needs.
While the intentions are noble in that we don't want to repeat dysfunctional cycles, not everyone in life has the same needs. Even if there are ancestral patterns of troublesome behavior, every generation has its own unique set of privileges and challenges.
The best thing you can do is observe and listen and respond accordingly.
3. Don't try so hard to control outcomes or performance. Do work to better yourself.
“She is so brilliant, I just wish she would be a lawyer or a doctor instead of an artist!”
“He has so much potential, but he's 17 and really has no direction for his life.”
As parents, we can nurture greatness for sure, but it ultimately is the child's desire and tenacity and enjoyment of any activity which will really make it happen.
And we should let go of the notion of forcing teenagers to decide their ultimate career path after high school. Nobody knows who they are when they're graduating. The 20s are all about that: it is the opportune time to introspect, gallavant, party, sojourn around the globe, make mistakes, and live wild and free so one can figure out what they do and do not want in life.
In our 20s, we're working to shake off all the useless conditioning of our childhood and figure out who we are beyond the constructs laid upon us. The 20s are about laying the foundations of our Selves. 30 is when adulthood really begins.
Everyone has their own paths to follow; their own destinies to forge. We only learn from experience; not necessarily from our parents' stories of their mistakes.
However, we can influence the youth through leading by example. For example, you can teach your children how money works and help them to appreciate the value of a dollar. But if your life is in shambles, how can you demonstrate the abundance mentality and be a credible source?
The more you get your own shit together, the more your children will be imprinted by the energy of parents who have a healthy relationship with wealth and the abundance mindset in general. If you're stressed out about money, children will form negative imprints in their minds about it, and cultivate a mentality of lack.
Also, no one really feels satisfied living out their parents' dreams. And even if it works for a while, there will come a day when they have to bust out and get to living life on their own terms.
The best guidance you can give is being a great example of you living your best life, and your children will be inspired to follow suit.
4. Don't pretend to be perfect. Do take ownership.
What kind of issues you got? We all are wounded in one way or another. My column at Numerologist.com, "Shadow Integration: How to Use the Darkest Parts of Your Natal Chart to Illuminate Your Greatest Strengths" addresses the deepest wounds which we all have.
Many parents subconsciously project their own wounds onto their children under the guise of "I just want the best for you" and “I just wish I could guide her along the right path so she doesn't make the same mistakes I did.”
There's no one right path. There are really no bad choices, because ultimately everything in our lives are leading us to our highest potential. We just get rerouted and detoured along the journey, but we will get to where we're meant to be.
The more transparent you are with your children about your life, the more receptive they will be to hearing you. If you keep all your troubles and struggles to yourself but act as though everything is normal, there will be a disconnect between your words and the energy surrounding it.
If you act like you were a chaste and holy virgin until you were married, that shit will come around and bite you in the ass when a woman halfway across the globe contacts your “firstborn” daughter on Facebook and tells her she has an older brother. (← true story)
Be vulnerable. It's endearing. Be authentic. They're watching you.
Besides, young people tend to have pretty good bullshit meters.
5. Don't try to be the boss or force your child to live in your reality.
Parents mess up their children by projecting both their own lovely desires AND worst fears onto the lives of their offspring.Then when children express their own desires (because who knows best what a person requires than the person themselves?), parents often clap back with their explanations and justifications and "I know what's best for you."
Watching it in action is all so blocked and ridiculous. Like, are you listening? Listen.
Life isn't inherently hostile.
If your world is, then that sounds like a personal problem, because there are many of us out here who are not experiencing that same hostility at every turn. But isn't it interesting that the people who complain the most seem to have endless reasons to be upset?
Parents end up being the worst perpetrators in a child's mind by implanting all the fears of *their* world. What ends up happening is that the monstrous threat "out there," which is embedded in the child's psyche, exists primarily as the voice of the parent.
YOU end up becoming the monster by projecting your fears rather than allowing your child to make their own deductions of what their reality is.
Hear children when they tell you what they need. They will let you know, even from the time they're babies.
Reality is subjective.
No one is saying that life is easy or that if we don't think of the bad things in the world, that they don't exist. I am saying that we often draw situations to us that are magnifying reflections of our internal fears.
When children are instilled with self confidence in who they are, AS they are, unconditionally, they become prepared to take on any challenge the world may bring.
6. Don't beat your children or stifle emotional expression. Do provide them a supportive environment to express the full spectrum of emotions.
There's no justification to beat discipline into a child. Don't hit your children, and don't sugarcoat bullshit with calling it a “pop” or a “swat,” and say "they needed it" because "they're bad."
If your child is so bad, it probably has a lot to do with you. And hitting them only perpetuates the trouble.
I can't tell you how many times I've heard parents say, “If you hit your cousin one more time I'll beat you.” What in the entire fuck. THAT'S why the kid thinks hitting is okay.
Now, getting mad is okay. Crying is okay. Toddlers and children should be allowed to process these feelings, lest they internalize the idea that expressing anger or sadness is “wrong.”
I discussed suppression above. When children are constantly told to shut up, or “quit crying!” or “we don't get mad in this house,” they grow up and become adults with anger management problems, or become passive aggressive, and are patently unable to allow themselves to feel.
As they age, people who were unable to express themselves freely may even become sociopathic, or victimized as they enter into relationships with predatory people who pick up on the fact that they have no voice for themselves.
When my 2-year-old daughter Eleven is upset, instead of shushing her, I allow her to express that Scorpio stellium Aries Moon freely, while remaining present and holding her so she knows that I am supportive of her feelings. I will mirror back to her that she is seen and heard, and she is allowed to process the emotions and moves on quickly.
When we try to distract a child from crying, or dismiss their emotions and say, "you're okay," we are imprinting that their feelings are invalid and that we aren't going to listen to them, and that does nothing in fostering a healthy parent/child relationship.
It's so simple. Other people are never truly our problem. Our primary problems are internal, and projected and reflected in others who act as mirrors to our own dysfunction. Since we MADE our children, they are the best mirrors we could ever ask for.
When we have children, we are potentially, effectively giving birth to even greater versions of ourselves.
Each new generation is blessed with a fresh perspective and a lack of jadedness. Children are environmental sponges. Don't dull their shine by projecting your fears.
I say this again: parents, our problem is never our children. Our problem is within, and when we are triggered, our children only serve to demonstrate how unstable we may be within.
Our common denominator as living beings is that we all want to know that we are seen, heard, and matter, exactly as we are—whether we are two years old, 22, 52, or 82.
Everyone is worthy in their own way, by sheer virtue of the fact that they exist.
Every person's expression of their highest potential is within them.
Let us continue to do the inner work on ourselves so we don't fracture our children. This is how we can effectively raise the vibration of the planet and revolutionize the world.