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It is so easy to cross the line between being a responsible parent and owning your children. It is a very thin line. As a mother of three beautiful children, I have more than enough evidence of the incidences where I started out with responsible parenting and ended up victimizing our children to get my way.

I write this blog from a compassionate stance because I know how difficult it is to parent inexperienced beings who are driven by hormones and naivety to explore, taste and experience all that life has to offer. The family unit surely is the cornerstone where values and attitudes are taught. Life naturally determined that this should happen.

A child enters this world with one desperate need – the need to connect with his or her parents. Survival depends on it. Eye contact, physical touch and even the smell of a parent are non-negotiable elements not only for emotional comfort but also for healthy brain development, especially during our formative years. A well-balanced, non-stressed parent provides for this desperate need when a baby is born. A strong intrinsic urge awakens in the parent to be present with, hold, love, nourish, protect and offer wisdom to this very vulnerable being.

For this to happen a “well-balanced, non-stressed” parent is necessary.

We don’t live in a perfect world. I want to repeat: “This is not a game of blame.” We can only give what we are capable of giving determined by how conscious and awake we are in our lives.

Reflecting on my parenting skills, I can see that my anxiety, stress levels, lack of experience and not being aware of my own unrecognized wounds and unresolved issues from my childhood influenced the way I was parenting my eldest son in comparison with his younger brother and sister. They were born in a season of greater awareness of my own story and my predetermined storylines. I am more aware of LIEZL in the room.

This also means that I am now a better parent for my eldest son even though he already entered the adult world.

It is never too late to change our ways and replace the shortcomings of the past with new storylines. We only remember what we focus on.

In a recent study, I discovered that the family unit is also the institution in which the greatest hostility, anxiety, stress, and depression are learned and expressed. It was found that the vast majority of patients in mental institutions have difficulties dealing with various members of their families and not society in general.

A passage from a book titled “The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients”  points to the influence of modern families on seriously disturbed people.

“Some families often give the appearance of hyper-normal stability and moralistic goodness. What actually goes on is that they have developed an elaborately subtle system of cues to warn any member should he be about to do something spontaneous, something that would topple the precarious family balance and expose the hypocrisy of their over-controlled pseudo-stability.”

What drives over-controlled behaviour that will at all costs enforce other family members (or a spouse or friend) to display pseudo-stability, pseudo-moralistic goodness, pseudo-success, pseudo-perfection?

Ask me.

I still sometimes overstep the thin line. I become forceful in the pursuit of changing someone else to fit my requirements when I am least connected to myself and least aware of my own unvoiced needs and even dreams.

When are we least connected to ourselves?

When we resist.

Resist inner work.

Resist slowing down.

Resist self-acceptance and the effect of our inner wounds.

Ultimately resist being honest and being human.

Why is it so detrimental for children to experience being “owned” by their parents? 

Their primal instinct yearns for connection with their parents. They entered the world with this instinct and therefore they can very easily adopt a victim mentality in order to maintain the connection. The other scenario is that the child will disconnect from the parent and seek a connection with their peers to fulfill this basic attachment need. Dr Gabor Mate wrote a brilliant book about this:

“Hold on to your kids. Why parents need to matter more than peers.”

I would like to end with a message to myself and each and everyone reading this blog. It is a passage by dr. Dyer:

“I am not encouraging insurrection within your family, but I strongly urge you to work hard at applying non-victim guidelines most strictly with those who will be the least receptive to your independence. That is, your relatives, be they your spouse, ex-spouse, children, parents, grandparents, in-laws of all descriptions, and relatives of every kind, from uncles and cousins to adopted family members. Your non-victim stance in life will be most seriously tested with this large group of relatives, and if you are victorious here, the rest will be a snap. Families are so tough because their members often feel they own each other, as though they’ve invested all their life’s savings in each other, like so many shares of stock – which allow them to employ GUILT when it comes to dealing with insubordinate members who are turning out to be “bad investments.” If you are allowing your family to victimize you, look closely to see if guilt isn’t being used to make you stay in line.”

May we all take responsibility for the life we have been given. May we test our stories and storylines before enforcing them on others. May we face and deal with our own stumbling blocks so that we can be free enough to invite others to dare to find themselves through a process of exploration which includes possible failures.

You will find that being your own person, not letting others do your thinking for you, is a joyful, worthy, and absolutely fulfilling way to live.

This is a vital storyline that everyone needs to hear.