I'll say it till I'm blue in the face, but if you want to the best mom you can possibly be, you really do need to work on yourself first.
Here are five reasons I think this is vitally important:
- Children’s success and happiness in life is most strongly correlated to their emotional intelligence. In a study published in 2011, children were followed for 50 years, from childhood well into adulthood, and it was scientifically proven that their success and happiness in adulthood was directly related to their levels of emotional intelligence. Sure, they could have learned that in adulthood, but how much cooler would it be if your kids learned that from you? Working on yourself in specific and strategic ways—increasing empathy and objectivity, becoming better able to notice and name your emotions so they don't take over in tough times—boosts emotional intelligence. If you do this work here and now, your kids are raised with it. If you don't, they're raised in the shitstorm of your past. You have a very real choice before you.
- Healing from the past. It's almost impossible not to pass on your past hurts if you don't face them, and when you face them, you will heal them. Some past hurts involve trauma and abuse, and these cases should definitely include therapy in their healing process. But some of us were just victims of our parents doing the best they could with what they had, and sometimes, sadly, that just wasn't enough. Sometimes their best left us with baggage and scars, and if we don't heal those wounds, we will inflict the exact same damage onto our children. And Lord knows that's the last thing we want.
- Breaking cycles. Cycles come in many forms. There are cycles of abuse (and varying degrees of abuse therein), there are cycles of neglect, there are cycles of plain old shitty parenting. When you do the work on yourself, you actually get to stop those cycles in their tracks. Like, no kidding. Your work now will affect your lineage for generations to come. Imagine your children, your grandchildren, all free from whatever toxic waste got dumped onto you. That's powerful shit right there.
- Create stronger parent/child relationships. When we work on ourselves we become better able to handle difficult situations when they arise (and, um, we're moms, remember, "difficult situations" is our middle name). Difficult situations can be immediate triggers, and unless we understand our triggers and what sets us off, we will go off on our kids, and in the process likely say things we regret, and worse, that are damaging. By doing the work on ourselves now, we become better communicators with everyone in our lives, most importantly our kids. Now instead of losing our shit when they behave in a way that might set us off (hello teenagers), we get to communicate our disappointment and displeasure in a way that creates a deeper bond, greater mutual respect and has a lasting effect on the relationship you have with your kids.
- Build confidence and self esteem, which you will, in turn, pass on to your kids. When you do the work to build your own emotional intelligence, you actually get to know yourself on a much more intimate level than ever before. You get a close look at your own operating system, and have an opportunity to rewire it. Insecurity and a lack of self-esteem really stems from a lack of a true sense of self. By increasing your self-awareness, you actually boost your confidence and self-esteem. Because our kids are sponges and mirrors, they will pick up on this naturally, and you'll be able to teach it to them. That's fucking gold.
If you do the work on yourself now, your child could go on to…
- Excel in school, and then their chosen career, without a bunch of emotional shit to hold them back from the success.
- Fall in love and have a successful, mutually supportive relationship because they’re able to communicate and relate appropriately on an emotional level.
- Build a strong network of friends and colleagues who value them deeply, because the interaction they share with others is truly thoughtful and meaningful.
- Experience joy - tons and tons of joy - because they’re not plagued by old family wounds, negative self-talk, worrying about making YOU happy, or any of the issues that you yourself may have struggled with.
So, ya know... it's kind of worth it right?