I appreciated your book recommendation “Will I Ever Be Good Enough – Healing for Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers” but I have a question. As I read through this book I could not help wondering how much “damage” I have done to my son (now in Grade 12, single parent for first seven years of his life, only child) based on the carrying forward of parenting techniques that I learned from my upbringing that I see clearly now are flawed.
I try to be gentle with myself by acknowledging that I have always wanted to be the best parent to my son and that is what I thought I was doing with the awareness I had at the time. Yet I still have this overwhelming sense that I need to redeem myself and try to fix what harm I may have imparted (though it is not clear exactly what this harm may be, feeling abandoned likely one though). I guess if I think about all that I wished I received from my mother – feeling cared about, empathy, acceptance, understood, heard, loved, being held, respected, included in decisions, to feel wanted – there may be a chance that my son is desiring to receive similar from me. Could this be true? And if so, how do I even begin to parent from a place where I may earn back my son’s trust?
So glad you enjoyed that book. I have received a lot of positive feedback on it from clients as well and I really got a lot out of it myself. Your question is quite complex and in order to answer it really well, I’d probably need a lot more background re: your own experiences with your mother and the history of the relationship you have with your son. That is what would happen if you went for individual counseling, which is something I would highly recommend if you have this many concerns about how you have, and continue to, parent your son.
However, in this brief answer, I can give you the following advice: I would highly recommend communicating with your son about your parenting and asking him directly how he feels about the job youhave done parenting him. It can be very difficult to get in touch with your child’s experience if you’re projecting your own experience with your own mother onto the situation at hand. Also, he is a separate person with his own thoughts, feelings, and personality, and along with that, comes his own preferred ‘parenting style’. He may not be ready to talk about this stuff now, but I think it’s important to let him know that the door is open should he choose to broach the subject with you in the future.
Also, a warning to all the parents out there who may endeavor to have this conversation with your adult children- be prepared to be crushed by some of the things they may say and have a therapist on hand to help you process the feedback you get. Kids have a way of telling it like they see it and sometimes, it can come across as quite harsh, even if what they say is true. The good news? Even if your kids feel you weren’t the kind of parent they had hoped for or needed while growing up, you can become a better parent RIGHT NOW.
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