Why do our children push our buttons?  What is it inside of US that gets ignited when we feel disrespected, frustrated or downright angry?  I believe it’s a combination of a few things:  how we think things “should” be, the legacy of our family of origin (how we were parented), and the mold we may be trying (perhaps unconsciously) to fit our children into.  These are often the things I find swirling around inside of me when I feel like I’m about to explode……
Of my twins, it’s my daughter who pushes my buttons constantly.  It’s super challenging some days.  Sometimes I have to just go into my room, sit down, breathe and look inside myself for WHY she is irritating me so much.  It’s really nothing that she is doing.  She’s just being herself — unbridled energy, specific ways she sees and wants things, stubbornness, fearlessness, relentless pushing for what she wants — actually all the qualities I wish for her to have as a strong woman!  The irony!
Being on the other side of this gets exhausting and frays my nerves some days.  But when I can separate HER from ME and see her clearly for the beauty that is uniquely her, the irritation washes away in a sea of love.
Our children are our greatest mirrors for the places that we need to shine light within ourselves.  In my case, my mother was a strong force of love and pain in my life so it’s not surprising that in my unconscious moments I feel her voice inside my head.  It takes vigilance and brutal honestly with myself about my shortcomings to breakthrough these “karmic battles” I have with my dear Jade.
We all have these ghosts, these inner battles we fight to be the best parents we can be to these little beings.  There’s no shame in it.  Our responsibility is to constantly shine the light on the shadow part of ourselves.  It’s the greatest gift we can give our children.
Here are some ways I try to shine the light:
  • When feeling triggered, I ask myself “What or who is this reminding me of?” It’s usually some version of my own mom and the old patterns of struggle I experienced with her as a child myself.
  • Visualize the transformation of what is happening in the moment.  If I’m angry, I imagine my heart melting with love for my baby girl and my feelings are usually transformed in an instant.
  • Do the opposite of what my “lower self” wants to do.  My mom was super controlling so that impulse will arise inside of me to just make the irritating behavior STOP.  When I’m mindful, I can stop myself instead and let go rather that grip tighter.  That usually loosens Jade’s need to keep pushing against me.
  • Reflect back to Jade what is happening for each of us in the moment.  Instead of blaming, shaming, or punishing her I like to do what I call “sportscasting”.  It goes something like this, “Jade, you really want to touch all the delicate things in this shop.  You are so curious about every little thing.  I love your curiosity but Mama is telling you to keep your hands to yourself.  It’s hard to keep your hands to yourself…….”  I don’t know if it helps her but it definitely helps me to depressurize and buy some time internally while I search for a solution to the situation — like running out of the store before she breaks anything!
  • Move towards connection over the issue at hand, rather than polarizing Jade and I against each other.  In the kitchen, for example, she often wants to do things that are dangerous so instead of telling her “no” I try to find a way for her to get the need met in a safe way.  That usually means giving her my full attention and working alongside her rather than kicking her out of the kitchen altogether…. although sometimes I do resort to that too!!!!

Really, there are no perfect answers to the imperfect and bumpy road of parenting…. but these little shortcuts seem to help me a lot and I hope they help you too.  xxx, Leah

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Hi Leah,
    I just wanted to say thank you. I have been watching the show, and even though I dont have children yet, I have a traumatic childhood as well and worry about it effecting my relationship with my future children. I’ve been told numerous times that I should go to therapy to deal with my childhood (and I even work in the mental health field!) but I hadn’t. For whatever reason after watching the show last night I told myself that I would deal with it. I found online therapy (using the laptop webcam) and literally scheduled an appointment for this morning. So I have completed day one of therapy and I know its so weird that this is what it took, but thank you. Your vulnerability and honesty I can imagine has helped many people including myself.

    • Leah Forester says:

      my heart is so full, reading your comment. this was my purpose in sharing it and hoping to bring something positive for the Mamas. We are the future. Literally. And we have to heal ourselves. I send you much love on your journey of healing…. xxxxxx Leah

  • Candice says:

    Leah, thank you so much. When I watched this episode I was so emotional. I’ve struggled with these same feelings towards my 4 year old and it tears me up inside everyday. It’s such a difficult topic to discuss because it feels so shameful. I’m afraid of being judged or misunderstood especially by my friends who don’t have kids. After watching the way you were so brave to open your heart to all of us I decided it was time for me to do something to change. I’ve taken the first steps to start seeing a family therapist to help me get into a better place with my child and myself. Truly, you have changed my life. Thank you.

    • Leah Forester says:

      Thank you for sharing this with me! I need to hear these things because it gives me purpose to keep sharing… even on a reality show, which is SCARY! Much love to you…. If you don’t already know about this…it’s a GREAT book for you to read. “Raising Our Children, Raising Our Selves”. by Naomi Aldort. And call upon whatever faith you have in the power to change direction. Shedding the Light is the answer. That’s what I chant for…. xxx Leah

  • Megan says:

    Leah,
    I just wanted to let you know that while watching the show, I too, felt such a connection with what you shared about your own struggles as a mom. I have an 8 year old daughter and it never really occurred to me that some of her qualities are ones that I don’t like about myself. Many things you shared helped me reflect on my relationship with my daughter and I am so grateful for your insight. Thank you for sharing your struggle it definitely helped this frustrated mama!

Leave a Reply