Years ago, I found myself navigating a messy divorce, dealing with the biggest financial struggle of my life, and desperate in midlife crisis. With all that going on in the background, there were many times that I was really tough on my children.
I would be strict and demanding, criticising and explosive with constant outbursts. It wasn’t that they hadn’t done something that wasn’t okay. I was just way too OVER-reactive.
At first I didn’t notice it. I was convinced they had done things that required my strong intervention. I felt desperate and angry, like raising good children was out of my hands.
But deep in me there is a warm, loving, mothering heart. I had been through so much with my children that there is nothing in this world that could prevent me from loving them unconditionally.
And this very love brought me to the moment that I couldn’t take it anymore.
I knew they deserved the best. NOT a Mom who acts out her own problems on them.
What I did, from that point on, was revolutionary. I have never, ever heard of anyone doing something like this.
This practice worked so brilliantly that I still use it today and I teach children and their parents to do the same thing.
I sat down with my children and told them the truth.
I told them that Mommy is sad. Mommy is worried and sometimes really overwhelmed.
I told them it was not their fault and they had nothing to do with it. I also told them that Mommy can take care of her own life and her problems and they don’t have to bear them for me.
Now, I have heard of telling children stuff like this before.
But I went a step further.
I decided to ask them for help.
I asked that next time, when I’m yelling or being harsher than I really should be, that they pause and compassionately tell me, “THAT THING is going on again.”
I asked them to literally tell me: “Mommy, you must have your own problem again,” BUT to say this with compassion and in a gentle way. I didn’t need judgement or criticism at that point.
I was curious whether it would work or not. They were pretty small at the time, my oldest was about 10 years old.
But children are amazing.
If you give them permission, they are smartest beings in this world. They got it right away since deep down they knew, it was the right thing to do.
The very next time I exploded, my son stopped me. So lovingly. He said, just like I taught him to, “Mommy, you must have something going on in your life.”
It was like a loving hug to my hurting heart.
Someone there not to judge me but to help me!
I stopped immediately.
The love between the two of us strengthened so much in that moment. I was a vulnerable, sad, happy, loving, loved, and most of all, proud Mama!
But this was only the beginning.
You cannot actually stop yourself unless you can examine and resolve what is going on underneath.
So, I took a little time for myself and F.E.E.L.
By the second E I simply told my son, “Yes, I am sad. You are right. I have something going on. Thank you for being here when I’m sad.”
We were both relieved immediately. Such a simple, honest act. An act of connecting rather than separation. An act of love rather than judgement and conflict.
It takes a certain amount of self-awareness to listen to your child when they tell you that you have something else going on. It is way easier to quiet them and tell them that they are the problem, not you.
But with love for your children and F.E.E.L. you can do it!
The beauty of this was that I didn’t need to solve my problem in order to be OK.
F.E.E.L. was enough.
I owned my emotions, expressed them, and embraced my hurting heart. I let go and I remember, my anger or whatever it was, disappeared the moment I allowed myself to be vulnerable and F.E.E.L.
The second side, maybe even more important, was that my children were liberated of my emotional burden.
They received a tool to know that my emotions were not about them.
They weren’t damaged or wounded by my reactions. They received the lesson of a lifetime.
“When somebody is angry / acting out / acting irrationally, it is not about me.
It doesn’t help to judge or criticise the other person for their behavior.
I can express my compassion and ask them about what is going in their life.”
I know, it won’t work with every adult, not yet. We need to spread F.E.E.L. a whole lot more. But this CAN work with you and your children or your loved ones.
Tell them, ask them, “How do I act when I have something going on?”
Personally, I yelled. You might act differently, but don’t deny it.
Then ask them to help you! And F.E.E.L.
If everyone would try this, we could heal all relationships in no time.
I love F.E.E.L.
Practice it, and you will love it too, more and more each day.
Never forget, I totally trust and believe in your success!