The gifts of childhood often come wrapped in ugly paper…

Justin Bieber wrapping paper – image from hellogiggles.com

I know, I know. Everyone blames everything on childhood. It’s a therapist’s favourite playground.

I’m revisiting childhood with you today. Why? 2012 is a fantastic year for personal growth and for letting go of what no longer serves us.  These pains from our past can be really old wounds,  but they are still worth healing. So much energy gets bound up in this sort of pain and it can prevent us from thriving. (In case you missed it, I blogged about letting go and how emotions impact your health recently.  Click on the blue links to go visit!)

Firstly, let’s get one thing clear –  I believe that we choose our parents. (want some proof?  check out my blog about it here) I can hear some of you suck in your breath at that. But think about it for a minute. Our parents are our first teachers in life. Their influence will profoundly impact our development. We are all souls, who had consciousness before we came into this lifetime. And we’ve made choices in our parents that we believe will give us our best opportunity for growth in a particular area. So instead of getting stuck in blame, or repeating old patterns, I’m asking you to step into a new place of understanding about your childhood, and to claim the gifts that were left for you there.  Not to condone bad parenting.  Not to approve of things done to you.  But to set you free from the energy of the past. That’s what forgiveness is all about.

As a psychic I have come to recognise three major groups of parents.  One is not better than another.  (Okay, the first category pretty much sucks.  Fortunately this is the proportionately the smallest group) They each offer different learning experiences. You may end up with two types of parents in the one house. Often, if we’ve been parented in one way, we will actively chose to raise our own family in a different way.  The three broad groups are:

1. Parents who teach us through neglect, abandonment, cruelty or absence.

Bad Parenting image by Chris Jordan

This can be the hardest group for us to resign ourselves to. The downside of this is that we might need to deal with those acts of neglect, cruelty and abandonment.  We might get caught up in a spiral of fear and self-doubt; needing to please others at all costs, endlessly putting others before ourselves, always worrying about breaking rules or getting into trouble. We may turn to substances or behaviours to numb our pain.

But there are great gifts here. We might become perfectionists or high achievers, driven to gain the love or approval or attention of our parents. It can set us up for patterns of excellence and striving throughout life. We may end up with great maturity and ability to handle responsibility from a young age. It can shape great leaders, make you entrepreneurial, a survivor, deeply self-reliant. It can encourage empathy and compassion, that in time can allow us to be the healer or counsellor for others. Needing to retreat into our imagination may shape you as a brilliant writer, artist, poet, musician. Pain breaks the bubble and lets us see life through a different lense.

This is harsh soil for a young one, but it can grow great strong souls, souls with resilience and courage and hope.

2. Playdough and Poo Parents

These parents often wanted children of their own from a very young age, and love having children.  They are deeply engaged with the whole process of pregnancy and early childhood. They will make a safe nest, and you may well be the centre of their universe. For a time.

But within their house is an expectation that you will take flight early. They’ll be there for you with sport and school functions and all those things that mark the progression through childhood, and they’ll start to step away as you move through adolescence, or as another child comes along.  It will be up to you to make decisions about your future.  By sixteen they’ll usually be backing away if they haven’t started to already, although your basic needs (food, shelter, love) will still be met.  They’ll have taken your training wheels off.  They’ll keep loving you, you’ll still be welcome at Christmas or Easter, and especially if you create grandchildren, but from now on it will be up to you. Their job is done.  They raised you, and then kicked you out of the nest, often when you had very few feathers!

This type of parenting gives you early security and an ability to find your feet, although it can be a confusing time when you leave the nest. Your parents won’t exert much influence over your education or adult life, and this enables you to make up your own mind about who you are and what direction you wish to seek in life. (yes, some of this is called learning by making mistakes!)  When you’re out on your own early in life you must learn to trust yourself and your own judgement. It can create great opportunities for early maturity, and for following a very individual path, or for getting on and creating your own path, family and stability early in life.

3.  Elders and Shapers

Working Mother © Jake Wyman, All Rights Reserved

These parents often find it hard to adjust to young children, because they have lives and careers of their own. They love their kids, don’t get me wrong. They will worry incessantly about whether they are doing parenting ‘right’.  They may not be tuckshop mums or fathers group dads, and that can make children feel neglected when other parents (playdough and poo parents usually) have higher visibility and involvement in those early years.

These parents see their job as lifelong.  They will continue to love and worry about their children, and to be there to shape and advise their kids through adolescence; with career directions, marriage, buying assets, going into business, problems, or having children of your own. They will still be an influence in their children’s lives to the end of their own.

Their greatest gift is in giving their children long term stability, and showing their children that it is important to have your own individual path and interests. They will encourage their  children to seek a path for themselves and to find lives that utilise their talents, gifts and passions.  There will be an emphasis for their own children on career or life path, and on making sound choices in life. They may be strict as parents, but less so as grandparents.

We may not appreciate this type of parent until we get older. They won’t be the ‘fun’ parents’.  They will be the ones with rules and boundaries and expectations about school and how we conduct ourselves in life.  But we will also choose these parents if we have strong desires around education, values and being supported and directed for the longer term. And we will maintain relationships with them throughout our lives, using their wise counsel and loving support to guide our own decisions.

Elders and Shapers often parent others as well, by being a supportive influence in the community, workplace, or with the friends of their own family.

Where to from here?

Take some time and reflect on the sort of parenting you have known.  Not to cast blame, but to better understand who you are, and why you are the way you are.  Look past the ugly wrapping paper and see what gifts you’ve been given to work with.  You are stronger than you know. There is no need to react to today in the same way you did when you were a child. Forgive the past, and step into the fullness of who you are.  It’s been no accident.  No co-incidence. The wounds of the past can run deep, but they can also be healed. Get help to heal the past if you need to, so that all you take into the future are the lessons and not the pain.

You are worthy and beautiful, with something unique to offer this world.  You are who you are BECAUSE of where you’ve been. Because of what you know, and where you’ve been, you are empowered to make better choices – ones that reflect YOUR values and ethics, ones that support all the things YOU believe in.  Wishing you peace <3

6 thoughts on “The gifts of childhood often come wrapped in ugly paper…

  1. Thank you so much Nicole. During this morning’s meditation, I got a message that I chose my parents because of the life lesson I am here to learn. Couldn’t see it before, but now it all makes sense. Whilst examining the past, I also cut up my high school photos and wanted to burn them thinking this was the solution for that hurt, but I was stopped by a knowing. The knowing said, forgive and thank them for their lesson too. So I’m using the pieces to make a “healing” montage and place those most hurtful people, into a big pink heart and turn destructive anger and hate into healing love. Besides, my fluffy orange creative monster can’t wait to get her hands (literally) on some glue and paints!

  2. What a great message!!!!
    I so often get to blame my parents for abandoning me, for being very strict and neglecting me, but after all, If they were not what they were, i would also be different from who I am. Although i don’t really enjoy my life, although i am not happy to be abused and live in fear, but I accept things the way they are, because i am learning to love and forgive and love more and every day a little more.
    I loved this Post. Thank you Nicole

  3. I totally agree that we choose our parents. When we know this, it makes it much easier to forgive and to place no blame. When I look at my children, I realize that I hosted them and did the best I could, and that they chose me so they could fulfill their purpose in this lifetime and expand their soul. Thank you for a wonderful post.

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