Parenting while you have a chronic illness

After working with children for a few years, I wanted to become a school teacher. During that study, I worked one day a week as a school teacher’s assistant. I loved working with the children, but over time I developed the feeling that something was wrong. It was a feeling that began after reading a lot about child psychology. This was so fascinating to me, as it explained my entire childhood experience of being at school. It became clear to me that the subject of child psychology was completely ignored in schools. There was simply no time for it; there were so many targets that the children needed to reach, and the schools were down on staff due to burnouts. Instead of getting the normal flu, teachers were somehow prone to burnout. Because of all of this, I could not continue my effort to become a teacher, and I am glad I stopped.

This is not a blog to give you lots of practical advice on parenting, but rather a blog to completely shift your perception of children and their needs. Lots of tiny tips and tricks can help you temporarily, but for a big shift, we need something more.

A child’s psychological basic needs

Children have, according to professor Luc Stevens, a few psychological basic needs:

  • Safety (this is the basis)
  • Autonomy (making their own decisions and being independent)
  • Equal relationships (being a part of a community and seen as equal)
  • Competence (the feeling of being good at something and being challenged)

This means that most things we do in our society for our children are either not necessary or even bad for them.

At school, children experience things like competition, bullying, unequal relationships, being rated and judged, and numbing a child’s free will. This will become destructive over time. Our programming will eventually lead us to treat ourselves in the same manner. We will treat ourselves the same way as others who do not respect our boundaries. People will repeat the negative patterns they have learned from their parents and society. These are often the personality types I talk about in the online program.

Safety

A child wants to be safe and explore the world bit by bit. Safety means having clear boundaries, emotional co-regulation, and a nonviolent environment to live in. It prioritizes stability over excitement. But when parents feel guilty, they tend to organize amazing trips to theme parks, movie theaters, holidays, etc. Of course, children will be happy to participate, but after such an event, they will likely feel sad. It is sad that it is gone. When you organize such an event out of the emotion of guilt, you will push your boundaries and commit to an event in the future. This is the opposite of flow. Follow your impulses breath by breath, and don’t commit. If fear and guilt are involved, then where is it in your body? Acting against fear and anger is a coping mechanism that is draining.

Competence and autonomy

The child aspires to gradually acquire skills and cultivate an interest in activities that naturally captivate them. The child prefers to make their own decisions without external pressure. This doesn’t mean that children are not meant to help the parents, as they will naturally want to join the others and help. You can give them small tasks and praise them for their work.

After a phase of pressure, humans tend to want to be lazy. This laziness is not bad. We might judge our own laziness, but that is usually the inner parent speaking. A psychological aspect that has become destructive over time. What we label as negative is probably not even laziness, but a coping mechanism of passiveness with distraction (mobile phone, video games, etc.). If the child needs these coping addictions, you can do the inner work with them. There is no greater bonding than that between a parent and a child. You will understand them better, and they will open up and need less coping.

Relationships

Children need equal relationships; nobody is worth more than the other, and everyone is honest with each other. As a parent, you can talk about your feelings and emotions. You can tell what is on your mind, what you are trying to learn, and how you are doing this. Be careful; in broken families, the child tends to want to create harmony in order to develop a safe place. It might do this as a coping mechanism and forget about its own needs. Of course, we should never force the child into such a role, as it is not desirable.

Clear communication is vital. Plus, we also have to see that there is a part of us that wouldn’t mind the child playing this role. This is a consequence of our own conditioning. There are, of course, things that your child doesn’t need to know or can’t even understand, but you know that your child will pick up on dishonesty. You can feel your emotions better than you can for yourself. Dishonesty makes a child feel unworthy and confused.

Remember that the child just wants to be part of a tribe and find a safe place without violence or judgement while he or she is exploring himself and the world.

Our own inner child

Unfortunately, most people in the western world did not grow up this way. This may have contributed to the development of a chronic disease in the first place. Up to 80% of all adults in the western world have a chronic disease. The number is beyond worrying.

In the end, you don’t need someone to break your free will anymore; you will do it yourself. You don’t need to be told to be incompetent; you will tell it yourself. And you will be unable to experience healthy relationships. You won’t feel safe, no matter how hard you try.

And now, you will repeat what you have learned at school and in society: coping. Trying to not feel by either overcompensating, denying, or surrendering.

Parenting and projecting the need for coping mechanisms

As parents, you might see that a lot of the things we want for our children are not at all part of their needs. Some of these things are part of our projected coping mechanisms. A child doesn’t need any of it. I won’t get into detail about this. We must conclude that most socially accepted norms are unnecessary. Instead, your child wants safety, competence, autonomy, and relationships. Fortunately, this is all that you can offer now that you can no longer keep up with society.

It requires honesty to admit that you may sometimes seek something from the child as a coping mechanism. You want to feel loved by them. You don’t want to be incompetent at parenting. You need to soothe your own inner child. Maybe you have romanticized a family and are forcing things to be a certain way. We all do this. It’s not bad.

Becoming aware of it can help us turn inward and resolve the root within. This new inner harmony will have an effect on your family. Because what you really see in your children is a mirror. They mirror you, and sometimes we humans are unable to see our own dark spots. Your child is simply there to show you. A signal that something internal needs your attention. Once you resolve it, the change will appear quickly.

Conscious parenting

You can involve your child in the healing process. Tell them about your symptoms, triggers, and hidden emotions. regulate their emotions. Have some clear boundaries and rules. Apologize for emotional outbursts and other negative pressures your child might have experienced. Accept their need for competence and autonomy. Trust life to do all the rest. Once we humans step out of the way, life will rebalance itself. You will notice that it goes more automatically and without effort. Maybe your child also has to heal emotionally; you can practice together. This way, you will form a great relationship.

Whatever you think you need from your child, can you give it to yourself first? If it is love, please start loving all your aspects and emotions.

When your child is emotional, take some time to sit with them and allow them to feel their emotions. You can ask questions and hold space for them, like you learned to do for yourself with the Release Program. This will change everything; your child is less likely to develop destructive behavior and probably won’t get a chronic disease like you have. Perhaps this is even the best thing a parent can do for their children during their childhood.

School and pressure

I don’t recommend going to normal schools anymore, but if your child is forced to go to one, I would recommend not taking everything so seriously anymore.

After school, many parents ask their children questions, such as:

  • Did you get good notes?
  • Have you finished your homework?
  • Etc.

Try to ask different questions to make your relationship stronger:

  • What was the funniest thing you experienced today?
  • What was the worst thing that happened today?
  • What do you wish to be different at school?
  • Is there something else you have an interest in?
  • Etc

Bottomline

I think that having a condition like ME/CFS can be a great thing when it comes to parenting. It all depends on where you are in your healing journey, of course. Experiencing a state of stagnation and overwhelming pressure can be a challenging parenting experience. But when you start doing the work and provide for your children’s basic needs as well as your own inner child, things will change. Suddenly, you will see that so many of the pressures we put on ourselves are not necessary. You will see that your condition can help you make the switch to conscious parenting. You will actively interrupt your generational trauma and heal together with your children.

Life becomes a self-regulating movement. We can step into the flow and let life guide us. From struggle to flow.