The Ambivalent Parent

Some days I wake up with the same reflective thought…”How did I get here”? “Goodness! I am the parent of two children!” (You think I would be over these moments considering my oldest is nine and my youngest will be five in just a few months). I have to admit these thoughts are often the bi-product of either an episode of parental difficulty, or constant awakening in the middle of the night by my four year old just to tell me…”mom I am no longer tucked in my bed.” So when this happens, I want to shout..”Really… you would still be tucked in if you didn’t get out of your bed just to tell me that.”

So instead, I become the mother who is led back to the same question…”How did I get here?” (Well, I know this is not a serious question because I do know how my children got here…but you know what I mean!)Parenting is difficult, and what I experience is not an unique phenomenon but rather an acknowledgement that parenting is hard work and it often conflicts with their internal needs or sense of self.  According to Dr. Barbara Almond, in her article the Ambivalent Mother, “ambivalence is when there is conflict between the needs of the parent with those of this of the child”. While some parents such as my self get this process just by acknowledging this difficulty, there are many parents who sacrifice the ambivalenceneeds of their children my solely focusing on their needs.

In my individual work with parents, I often facilitate these internal conversations. While some people assumption and quit frankly judgment that selflessness is a natural process, my work provides evidence that it is more of a natural process for people to seek self-preservation.Therefore it is important for parents and even non-parents to understand conflicts that exist between their needs and the needs of their children. This acknowledgment provides the first step for determining how to prioritize the needs of their children without neglecting their sense of self. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an easy task but rather an opportunity to build their parenting capacity.  to access when they may need added support or even respite. Too often parents internalize these feelings and end up imploding on the inside and exploding on the outside. Denying your self is hard especially when it is challenged with hunger, lack of familial or community support and sleep deprivation. Ambivalence in itself is not a bad thing, however it becomes detrimental when a parent gets stuck

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The Great Challenge

For the last ten years I have spent my personal and professional life enmeshed within the domain of parenting. As many before me…parenting is a difficult task and doesn’t always turn out the way we always hope. I frequently think… if this task wasn’t so difficult there would not be so many parenting books, magazines, blogs, websites and parenting groups. Parenting is an active process that is rooted with many challenges that at times trigger your inner being. Often when I am working with parents, I say…”a sign of being a great parent is being able to recognize when the line is blurring or even disappearing.” This process can sometimes be not only a challenge but a difficult task especially when you are trying the balance your needs with that of your child/children and if you are married,your spouse.

While someWhat children need most 1times in my journey I wished my children came into this world already knowing… but the reality is they didn’t, therefore the responsibility lies on their parents.I believe that some parents forget that they were once children who required patience, nurturing and love. Instead the get easily frustrated by there children who respond and act the way the should… as children. Through the process of parenting, parents are responsible for not only the day-to-day and medical care, but they are their children’s first teacher. Children are taught to view this world as either a safe or unsafe place; they build their social-emotional intelligence and ultimately through this process begin to develop a since of empathy for the people around them.

This is not an easy task. That is why parenting is “The Great Challenge.” It is something that is onl
y developed by actively doing and being able to recognize when you have done something wrong. There is no one size fits all approach, but rather the parenting process needs to adjusted to the the specific needs of each child. Parenting requires not only the edification of the fruits of the spirit but also a mindful and self-reflective examination of how “your” parenting behavior is impacting your children.

It is my hope that through this site, I will be able to create a context for the parenting process and address the ways in which trauma, depression, anxiety, parental temperament, and even child development impact this process.