I have lived with and raised my son on my own for the majority of the last 8 of the 11 years of his life and have been learning that the responsibility of being a parent is not what I first thought it was.
My Son and I and Being a Parent
In the beginning, the relationship between my son and I was based on need. One of the reasons I became a mother was because I thought having a child would ease the constant loneliness I felt as a human being. Therefore, with the birth of my son, I proceeded to construct a life between us that protected what was my ‘ideal of love’.
For me being loved meant being understood; therefore whenever I felt I was not understood, I would use this as an excuse to isolate from the world and focus entirely on making the relationship with my son to be everything that I needed.
Instead of taking up the responsibilities of being a parent, I would make sure no conflicts existed between us; I would pander to all my son’s demands and more often than not, fulfill them. Indeed the relationship between my son and I seemed harmonious on the surface because he would always get what he wanted.
For example, I would let him have his dinner while watching TV, so there was no true communication every time we ate, or I allowed him to indulge in excessive video game playing because I had to work, even though this made him aggressive and bad tempered. I would go all out in all ways to appease any potential conflict.
Even though I knew that a lot of the choices he made did not support his true well-being, I still allowed them because then I did not have to deal with his explosive emotions of not getting what he wanted. This created a very destructive cycle of behaviour between us.
There was no true harmony within our relationship or in being a parent, as I needed my son to fit into my way of life and offer me company. Very soon he knew he could ask me for anything because of what my needs were. I started to realise that the relationship between my son and I was no different from any close relationship I have had with others, especially with men.
However, eventually the grief of filling another’s demands at the expense of myself could no longer be ignored. The pain of ignoring how I truly felt in many everyday situations and not expressing my truth got too immense. Every single day I was living with a deep sadness that would explode into crying episodes once in a while. I was never completely free from this grief, no matter what I tried.
Taking Self Responsibility: Building a True Relationship with my Son
The blinding force of my ‘ideal of love’ slowly dropped away through a very deep level of honesty and self-responsibility that was re-introduced into my life. With the support of Universal Medicine, taking self-responsibility became the turning point in my life, in my patterns of behaviour and in the way I parented. Subsequently I have started to live (rather than escaping from) what I always felt deep inside of me and what my heart has always known. That is:
The heart simply knows that true love is not from need, and without true love, there can be no true relationship.
It was very exposing and painful to admit initially that I had never lived a truly loving relationship with myself. This in turn affected my relationship with not only my son and the way I parented him, but with everyone.
The foundation of any true relationship begins with the responsibility of living who we are, rather than living in a way we think we ‘should be’.
The committing to self-responsibility and true love has changed many of the momentums and patterns of behaviour that were controlling my life. After eleven years of being a mother I have finally become a truly responsible parent, without perfection. There is a freedom with this that I had never experienced before; less rules, less control, rarely raising of my voice or hardening of my body when speaking, but also no holding back in expressing lovingly what is truly felt.
For example, even when I feel I sometimes react to my son blaming me for something that he feels I’m responsible for, I can now stop myself and not take it personally or judge him or myself for this. Remembering how much I love him allows me to go to a deeper understanding of him and his situation. With that I hold him in true love. He in turn feels that acceptance and understanding and often surprises me by letting go and returning to being his true loving self.
I have found that the true responsibility of being a parent eventually comes back to our relationship with ourselves first and then with others. How truly honest, open and loving a relationship is between parents and children will influence how our children are in their relationships as adults throughout their lives.
My son used to always say when he was younger: “Mommy I love you more than you can ever imagine.” Now I realise the truth of this sentence and what a true relationship is. What I also realise is, when true love is our commitment – and remembering that our patterns of behaviour are not who we are – then not only how I love my son, but how I am in relationship with all others is more than I could have ever imagined.
By Adele Leung, Fashion stylist/Art director, Hong Kong
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