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Do you want to do better for your kids than what was done for you? How can you help your kids develop the coping mechanisms they need to grow into amazing adults? What are some things you can start doing to stop yourself from parenting out of fear and stress?
In this podcast episode, Veronica Cisneros speaks about how what you’re doing is not working and 5 steps to help you.
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In This Podcast
- Our parents did their best
- How have you tried to change your kids?
- Why is all of this a problem?
- 5 Steps to help you
Our parents did their best
Our past can really affect the way we parent and we do the best that we can. This can sometimes interrupt our process though as we’re attempting to do better than what was done for us but we go from one extreme to the other. Neither Veronica and her husband Willie felt like they were enough, they didn’t feel like they had their parents’ acceptance, and it felt like there was a level of favoritism and they weren’t the favorites. They excelled at life in an attempt to gain that acceptance.
We set ourselves up for failure as parents because we try to position ourselves as experts, when in reality, we’re just humans who make mistakes. In talking about this with her husband Willie, Veronica realized that her parents were doing the best they could. They got married young and didn’t have a lot of coping skills. This wasn’t their fault, they learned how to parent from their parents, who learned it from their parents, and so on.
How have you tried to change your kids?
This is an ongoing conversation for Veronica and Willie, and Veronica has realized that she tries to change her girls to keep them safe. Safe from being judged or criticized, so much so that she would try to change the way they dress or the way they do their hair. She would prevent them from doing certain things, listening to certain music, or acting a certain way, all because of how it wouldn’t be acceptable to other people, to strangers, strangers who won’t approve of them. Was she doing the same thing her parents did to her? Yes, she was, and she didn’t realize it.
We’re all products of our environment, we can stay stuck there or we can go out and change it. That’s what Veronica and Willie did. They learned new, healthy coping skills. They taught, did, and behaved differently. In the past, they parented out of fear and stress, now their parenting skills are so much different. They’re not perfect parents, but they have allowed themselves to both grow and communicate throughout the process.
Why is all of this a problem?
All the things I’m protecting my kids from is also preventing them from being a kid.
Why were we given this feeling of not being accepted and how are we doing that for our kids?
- We tend to parent out of fear, we try to change our kids so that life’s not so hard for them. Yes, we do that because we love them, but we’re actually telling them that they’re not good enough and they need to change.
- That same speech, behavior, control, whatever you’re doing, is also preventing your kids from building up confidence. They’re now looking to you for constant reassurance and validation, and they’re going to start doing the same things with their friends.
- All of this also prevents our kids from handling different personalities which is crucial. Our kids need to trust and be able to make decisions on their own. If we feed them with these lies and safety parameters, we’re not giving them room to grow or learn.
5 Steps to help you
- Listen to understand, don’t fix.
- Accept your child for who they are and who they aren’t.
- Is your child a trigger?
- Try not to allow your past to impact your ability to see things for what they are and what they’re not.
- You don’t have to control your child.
Meet Veronica Cisneros
I’m a licensed therapist and women walk into my office every day stressed and disconnected. As a mom of three daughters, I want my girls to know who they are and feel confident about their future. I can’t think of a better way to help other women than by demonstrating an empowered and unapologetic life. So I started Empowered and Unapologetic to be a safe space for women to be vulnerable and change their lives for the better before she ever needs to see a therapist. Whether you listen to the podcast, join the free Facebook community, join the VIP community, or attend our annual retreat, you’re in the right place. Let’s do this together!
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Have you ever thought, how did I manage to lose myself? Being a mom is so hard, especially when we’re feeling stressed and disconnected. We exhaust ourselves trying to create this perfect life for our family. You deserve to enjoy your marriage and your kids, without the stress perfectionism brings. I am going to teach you how to identify who you are, outside of all of the roles you play.
Hi, I’m Veronica Cisneros. I’m a wife, mother of three and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I am on a mission to teach women, just like you, how to become empowered and unapologetic. Welcome to our girl gang.
Parenting isn’t for the weak. You know, you hear so many times, people saying, kids don’t come with instruction books. And that’s totally true. You know, my husband and I, we had a conversation. My husband’s name is Willie, we’ve been married for 20 years. And we had this conversation completely focused on how we were parented. And I remember just talking about how we both felt unaccepted. And in addition to that, we didn’t really feel as if we were given that level of appreciation or… I don’t want to sound as if we’re just complaining about our parents, because that’s not the case at all. But it was just… I was going over something that came up in session with one of my clients, and I was just talking about how our past really truly affects how we parent, and we do the best we can, we all do. However, I feel as if that interrupts our process, because we’re attempting to go ahead and do better than what was done for us. However, we go from one extreme to the other, and my husband and I started talking about what childhood looked like for us. And again, you know, we said how we didn’t feel like we were enough. We didn’t feel like we had our parents’ acceptance. And it just felt like there was this level of favoritism, and we weren’t the favorites.
We started really talking about that, and I was listening to my husband share his feelings, and then in turn, he heard mine. And we talked about how we’ve excelled in life in an attempt to go ahead and gain that acceptance. And then I asked him, well, what if? What if our parents were doing the best they could with where they were at? And I also hear that a lot. And as a clinician, I also say that a lot, you know, your parents are doing the best you can, however, what the hell does that mean? What does that mean? And so, Willie and I broke it down, and I asked him, what if you were able to just look at your mom and dad, as human beings. Just human beings that didn’t have all the answers, that didn’t know what to do. We look to our parents, and even us as parents, we try to go ahead and have all of these answers and we set ourselves up, we set ourselves up for failure, because we’re trying to go ahead and position ourselves as this expert, when in reality, we’re humans and we make mistakes. And so, talking about this, I realized, well, my mom and dad were doing the best they could, and they got married very, very young. And they didn’t really have a lot of coping skills. And it wasn’t their fault that they didn’t have the coping skills. Again, they learned how to parent based off of how their parents parented, and so on and so forth. And so, it’s this long line of certain rules, and the way we approach love, and the way love is given, and the way love is received, right? And so, it’s all of these things.
I then started to think, well, could our kids feel that same way? And then I was like, no, we’re totally perfect parents, how could they feel this way? And I really stopped, and I was like, honey, you know, Aliyah – Aliyah’s our oldest – Aliyah’s gone through several deployments. And in addition to that, you and I didn’t have the best coping skills when we were first married, you know, the first years of our marriage, and then take it even further. We were just kids trying to figure life out and trying to figure out what finances meant and how to budget and how to grocery shop. You know, my husband and I, we got married when I was 20, and then we had Aliyah when I was about 23, 24. I can’t think of it right now because, hello, I’m on the spot. However, we were young. We were young and, I hate to admit this, but Aliyah’s seen a lot. And what I mean by that is, you know, she went on several deployments, like I had said earlier, and in addition to that, she’s seen us completely separated from each other. And those first years of separation were very, very difficult for me, you know, as a new mom. And then in addition to that, for us in our relationship, because we were attempting to go ahead and hold on to our relationship with war in the middle. And our daughter was just trying to make sense of the world, and her parents weren’t together because again, literally, war was in the middle. And so, I stopped and thought about like, okay, well, you know, going back I would totally defend how I parented. Well I did this because of this, and I did this because of this. And so, Aliyah, please don’t think that I didn’t love you. Please don’t think that you’re not enough. And it was like, holy moly, wait a minute. Wait a minute. There it is.
So, if our parents were truly doing the best they could, well then why are we personalizing it? Why do we take it in as if it’s us? That’s the problem. Why do we do that? And I really want you guys to think about that. Think about how you were parented, and the minute you tell me, the minute you say, oh, my gosh, I had the perfect childhood, girl, I’m gonna tell you right now: I want you to challenge that. And it’s not that I don’t agree with you that you had the perfect childhood. Your mom and dad were awesome. However, I really want you to dive down. I want you to dig a little deep and ask yourself, like, what was I missing? What did I need from them that they couldn’t give me? Where do I feel like they just couldn’t meet my needs? They didn’t fail, but I felt like something was missing. Where was that? I really want you to think about that. And also, I want you to think about how have you tried to change your kids? And I know for me, you know, and me and my husband are still having this conversation. And for me, I realized – and I shared this with them – that I try to change our girls to keep them safe. Safe from being judged, criticized. So much so that I would change the way they wanted to dress, literally; I would pick out all their outfits, I would do their hair a certain way. And the minute they wanted to go ahead and wear certain shoes or you know, I don’t know if your kids did this, but my daughter’s – all three of them – whenever I would do their hair and I would put it up in a ponytail, they’d want this little tiny… and I’m totally doing it with my hands right now like as if you can see it and you can’t, but I’m doing it, it’s happening. So, they would take this little piece of hair, that wasn’t even [unclear], but they would take this little piece of hair out and just lay it right there on their cheek covering one of their eyes. And I would say what the heck are you doing? Like no, I need to put that back. It doesn’t look right. And then they would want it curled. And I look back and I did the same thing, I would never show you guys these pictures. Mom, if you’re listening, don’t ever post this picture because I did the same thing. We call it a little ‘cola’. So, the little ‘cola’ is Spanish for little tail, right? And I would try to prevent them from doing that. I would try to prevent them from acting a certain way or listening to certain music or if they were out of line, and just yelling and screaming or laughing too loud, it was like, no, no, no, no, no. I didn’t realize that that entire time I’m telling my kids, you can’t act that way because it’s not acceptable to those strangers. You can’t behave or look that way because those strangers over there won’t approve of you.
Okay, wait a minute, what? Am I doing the same thing my parents did to me? Uh, yes. Yes, I am. And in addition to that, in addition to that, I didn’t realize I was doing it. And so, going back to the conversation I had with my husband, that’s when we both had realized, well, we’re doing the exact same thing. And it’s all based off of where we’re at in life. And as I started to realize all of this was happening, I also started to consider, well, we’re a product of our environment, right? And we’re also a product… we can stay there; we can stay stuck there. Or we could go out and change it. And that’s exactly what we did. As we started learning new healthy coping skills. We talked different, we did different, and we behaved different. We modeled for them something new. The same thing with finances, you know, when me and my husband first started out, my husband was in the military, he recently retired. However, back then we weren’t making a lot of money. And for some reason, we thought we were living like the Joneses. So, we were living outside of our means, which meant credit card debt. Which meant constant arguments because he bought something so why couldn’t I? And it was this back and forth thing. And so again, we’ve parented out of fear; we’ve parented out of stress. And now our parenting skills are so much different. I’m not going to say we’re the perfect parents, because we’re not. However, we’ve allowed ourselves to both grow and communicate throughout the process. And in addition to that, model something healthy for our kids.
Why was all of this a problem? Why? Why, why, why were we given this feeling of not being accepted? And how are we doing that for our kids? That’s the question I’m asking you. And that’s what I’m going to teach you. Well, like I mentioned earlier, we tend to parent out of fear; we try to change our kids so that life is not so hard on them. And we do that because we love them, right? However, we communicate to our kids that they’re not good enough and they need to change. We have trouble connecting with our children when we are triggered; all of these things are happening. You know, I read this parenting article which stated, ‘When fear dictates my actions, it distorts my good intentions’. And I can’t tell you what parenting magazine I read that from, however, it’s interesting because I’ve taken all these parenting classes, you know, in grad school, however, that parenting article really resonated with me. And I thought to myself, oh my gosh, this person totally nailed it. All the things I’m protecting my kids from is also preventing them from being a kid. Listen to what I just said, all the things I’m protecting my kid from is also preventing them from being a kid. So, I want you to think about that. And again, most of us, we parent because we absolutely love and adore our kids. And yet we’re so afraid for them to get hurt. And then we punish them. And then we do these things to control them. We do these things to control them. Our intentions as parents is to raise healthy, loving, respectful, and well-mannered individuals; we want them to pursue the world and take it on with caution. And so, we’re communicating to our kids, yes, take over the world, do all these things; you’re meant to do great, big things. Be president, you could do whatever the hell you want. Ah, but you’re not good enough. You’re not good enough unless you do this, this, and this. And you’re also not good enough if you dress that way, if you look that way, if you act that way. So as long as you behave this way that I tell you to behave, everything will be okay.
Well, let me tell you something. That exact same speech, that exact same behavior, that exact same control, whatever the hell you’re doing, is also preventing our children from building up confidence. And now they’re looking to us for constant reassurance and validation. So, guess what happens? They’re going to do the same thing with their friends. They’re going to look to their friends for validation. They’re going to look to their friends for acceptance because I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough, because my parents told me I’m not good enough. And my parents also modeled for me that I need to look to you for permission to do whatever I want to do. And so, until you give it to me, I have to stay within this parameter. Does this sound familiar? And I want you to think about, again, I want you to think about not only how you’re parenting your kids, but I also want you to think about how your parents parented you and how this alone has impacted you.
Another thing this also prevents our kids from doing is, it prevents them from handling different personalities. And that is crucial. It is important for our kids to trust, that they’re able to make decisions on their own. But if we’re feeding them all of these lies, if we’re feeding them all of these safety parameters, well, we’re not giving them much room to grow. And in addition to that, we’re also not giving them much room to learn. And I get it. I understand. I understand that you want to protect your kids but think about how it’s impacting your life and how it’s impacting their life. Here are five steps to help you. I recognize, again, like I’ve said over and over, parenting is not easy. However, look at how your childhood was impacted by the way your parents parented you. So, we are going to start to make a shift because they were doing everything they knew how, just like you’re doing everything you know how. And so now, let’s go ahead and get some coping skills underneath your belt.
First step: (get a pen and paper because this is good and you’re going to need to write it down) listen to understand, don’t fix. Girl, I’m going to tell you right now, this is hard. Here’s why. And you know what, I’m going to give you a personal example. Aliyah came home – Aliyah’s my oldest – and told me she was being bullied. Aliyah came home and shared with me that she was being bullied by one of the girls at her school. I’m going to tell you right now, mama bear came out with a vengeance and I was ready to go. Like, okay, who was she? How old is she? Like, let’s go. Let’s go. And then I realized, ah, what am I teaching my daughter? What am I teaching my daughter? Well, mom’s gonna run to your defense all the time. And you don’t need to know any problem-solving skills, Aliyah, because I got you. I’m going to go ahead and take care of you. And I’m going to be with you for the rest of your life and I’m going to be mama bear and that’s just the way it’s going to go down. No, I’m not teaching my daughter anything.
I’d like to say. I would like to say that I handled that appropriately. However, I didn’t. I didn’t. And here’s why: because I attempted to go ahead and fix, and I attempted to handle the situation on my own. No, I did not go after a 13-year-old, I think she was 13 at the time. I did not go after a 13-year-old. I didn’t do that. Don’t get me wrong. Don’t get me wrong. I thought about emailing her mom, emailing the principal, calling her mom, not emailing her mom, calling her mom, emailing the principal, doing all kinds of things like that, right? And I didn’t go after them. However, I didn’t handle it appropriately. And I didn’t handle it appropriately because I told her, well, I’ll go ahead and fix it. And I ended up having a conversation with her and I wanted that little girl to go ahead and make this right. And I wasn’t yelling at her, I wasn’t cursing at her. I didn’t do any of that. You know, I’m standing right by Aliyah, having this conversation with this girl, got off the phone, you know, and shared with Aliyah what had happened and she wasn’t gonna have to worry about that anymore. And I realized when I shared this story with another colleague of mine, I realized that I was so out of line. I was so out of line because, guess what, Aliyah was gonna have to go to school the next day and see that girl, and her mommy had to take care of it for her. Not that that’s a bad thing. However, listen to what I say when I say, I did not arm my daughter with the knowledge she needed to go ahead and set boundaries and assert herself. And so, when she went to school, she went to school without any coping skills. That’s not healthy. And that’s not how I want my daughter to be raised. That’s not… again, my intent was to protect. However, by protecting I was also controlling, which isn’t healthy. And so, ladies, I’m going to ask you, when your daughter shares something with you, or when your son shares something with you, listen to understand – don’t fix.
I hear this from several kids. They come into my office. I’m a therapist. I don’t know if I mentioned that, but I’m a therapist. And so, in my private practice, I see children. And kids come in and they’ll share some really, really traumatic events; they’ll share their current struggles, they’ll share their current symptoms, and one thing that they often tell me is, I wish my parents would just listen because they’re constantly trying to fix me. And I feel like nothing’s wrong with me. But if they’re fixing me, maybe something is wrong with me. And then they’ll turn to me and say, but you don’t try to change me. You’re just listening. And it’s like, ah, bingo. Kids will talk to us, and share things with us, as long as we’re willing to listen. You could arm them with coping skills, however, first, listen, and help them; help them come up with the solution on their own. And you could guide them, and if you’re scared, guess what, you get to say that, or if you don’t know, you get to also say that. Mommy does not always have to have the answers to everything. We’re human. Our kids need to know that.
Step 2: Accept your child for who they are and who they aren’t. Think about that. How are you constantly trying to change your kids to be something that they’re not. Stop forcing your child to be who you need them to be and allow them to embrace who they want to be. Aliyah, my oldest, she wants to be a fashion designer, and she’s all about fashion. So, guess what? We’re going to Joanne’s fabric; we’re taking her to trips to FIDM. We’re doing all of those things because we want her to embrace that creative part of her. Since she was a kid, she would literally take off the Barbies clothes, she would rip up or cut… she would cut up my husband’s white t-shirts, and she would just start drawing on them. And then she would use different colors, and then she would cut it up and then all of a sudden, it would be this dress. And I didn’t realize that she was creating her own fabric. She was creating all of that. And it was… she was like, five. I mean, these kids, she was five and these kids are amazing if we just watch them grow. These kids are amazing if we just allow them to tell us who they are. And we don’t interrupt that process. We guide them. We teach them. We don’t discourage them.
Aubrey is my 13-year-old; she just turned 13 in January. Aubrey, she used to walk around with this little Webster dictionary. And, literally, she had just learned how to walk, and she was walking. And here she is with this pocket Webster dictionary. I don’t know where she got it from. However, she would walk around and then when she was in the car seat, and I was driving, she would open it up and act as if she was reading, like… blew my mind. And she would just do that. She could not read; she did not know how to read, she didn’t know what the book was, she didn’t know anything about it. However, as she started getting older, she started inquiring more and more about the law. So much so that she asked Santa for How to Get into Law School for Dummies. And that was about four years ago, do the math. So, I mean, she’s only 13. I’m not going to do the math because I’m gonna have to count my fingers. I’m just being honest. And so that was Aubrey.
Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s 9 right now. However, four years ago, and it’s crazy, because it’s all around the same age, about when they were five. We went to Disneyland. And we were there, and we were where the Star Wars… they had this like, Lego set. And Brooklyn said, mommy, come here. And so, I was like, alright, monkey. So, I’m walking with her and she’s like, that. That’s what I want to be. And I was like, well, you want to be a Lego builder? Like, how cool. And she’s like, oh, no, I wanna be an inventor. And I was like, oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, okay. All right, an inventor. She’s like, I want to make that. And I was like, okay, cool. So, guess what? We’re all about inventing and all about, you know, she has all these Legos and robots. And that’s something she loves to do. Will she change it? Possibly, I don’t know. However, I’m just going with the flow right now.
And so, I’m asking you, mommies, pay attention. What are your kids doing? What are their likes? What are their interests? And encourage them. Because who knows? One day, they might be the inventor. One day, they might be the lawyer. That’s Aubrey, she wants to be the lawyer. It might change, who knows? And Aliyah, she was just recently accepted into FIDM. That is crazy. That is absolutely crazy. And so there you have it.
Here we go. Step 3: This one I’m going to have to break down in other episodes – is your child a trigger? Hear me when I say that. Is your child a trigger? Identify if your child is triggering you; who do they remind you of? Because if you continue to try to change your child, it’s because you don’t know how to handle the emotions that you’re feeling when you’re around them. Guess why? Because they remind you of somebody. Write that down. Girl, that’s gonna be a whole journal entry, and I want you to share that with me, you’re going to get emails from me, I want you to share that with me. And if you’re not already in my Facebook group, it’s a free Facebook group. If you’re not in there, I want you to join it and I want to hear you. I want to go ahead and read whatever comes up because this is big, so big we’re going to do another episode on it.
Step 4: Try not to allow your past to impact your ability to see things for what they are and what they’re not. I got chills, I got chills. Believe it or not, our past impacts us in so many ways. So many ways. So much so, hello, I have a career based off of our past, being a therapist, right? So, I want you to think about it. I know you’re attempting to do everything your parents didn’t do for you. And I know you’re attempting to meet all of your child’s needs, the way your parents didn’t for you. However, I want you to identify what those were, what those needs were, when you were a kid. I want you to take it there. And I want you to just let it flow. Let the pen take over as you’re writing all of this down.
Step 5: You don’t have to control your child. You don’t. Trust that you’re teaching them how to go ahead and problem solve. Trust that you’re teaching them how to be well mannered and loving individuals who are going to be these amazing grownups, right? Who are going to impact this world in so many ways. Trust that, guide them and teach them.
Lastly – this is just a little added bonus – know that you are doing the best you can with the skills you have. And you’re an amazing mom, you know how I know? Because you’re listening to this podcast, you’re writing these things down, you’re doing the work, you’re doing the work so you can change and break those dysfunctional patterns, so that you can love and connect your little babies. And like I’ve said before, I’m on this journey with you. I got you, girl. I gotcha. I’m on this journey with you and we’re gonna do this together. There’s gonna be times we’re gonna laugh. There’s gonna be times we’re going to cry. However, we’re going to do this together and we’re gonna connect. Alright you guys. Peace.
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This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.