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What I Believe He Will Believe

I came across the concept of Core Beliefs in grad school for Social Work. The idea hit home with me as I could relate to it on many levels in my personal life. I was able to identify my own Core Beliefs and see how these affected my thinking habits. It wasn’t until recently that it hit me that now that I am a mother this concept is far more important than I could have ever imagined.

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Core Beliefs are the basic beliefs that make up how we see ourselves and our relationship with others and the world. These beliefs are developed at a very young age. These beliefs come directly from our primary caregivers. These are where our conscious thoughts and feelings originate. Core Beliefs live deep inside of us and are not accessed directly. Because they are so long in the making and so deeply ingrained, they are inflexible and rigid. There are positive ones such as “I am lovable.” “I am worthy of love.” “I matter.” “I am good enough.” “I am safe in the world.” “I have control.” And there are negative ones such as “I am not good enough.” “I am not lovable.” “I don’t deserve love.” “I am not valuable.” “I am powerless.”

A few of my personal negative ones that affect my thoughts and feelings are “I can’t handle this,” “I am not safe,” “I am not good enough.” These affect me in my daily life when I have big emotions that feel unmanageable, scary and never-ending. For example, if I am feeling overwhelmed with Jack I can become consumed with frustration. The frustration rises and I perceive it as bigger than me, scary and threatening. I tell myself I can’t handle the emotion or situation. Because I tell myself that I can’t handle it the feeling increases and I feel even more out of control. With a lot of work I have learned that I can intervene by using positive self-talk; “I can handle this,” “I can manage my big emotions,” “I am OK.” Or in a similar situation with Jack I might tell myself that I am not good enough to be a parent. That I am not capable of being a good mother. I try to remember to intervene by telling myself I am good enough and I am trying my best.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, babywearing.

Intervening as early as possible is key. The earlier we intervene in our negative thinking (that is ultimately a result of our Core Beliefs) the easier and quicker we can ward off intense negative feelings. It’s a matter of remaining aware of our emotions at all times. But seriously, who does that? It’s normal to become overwhelmed and feel trapped by certain emotions. Every single one of us has a list of positive and negative Core Beliefs that affect how we react to situations. It’s really not possible to be aware at all times unless you are some sort of Zen Master. Which I am not. So just trying our best to recognize when our thoughts are leading to negative emotions and intervening as soon as possible is what counts.

I learned a lot about this in training as a Social Worker and the personal therapy that I engaged in as a young adult. It all seemed fine and well until I had Jack. Then I got to learn about the receiving end; Jack. I was always looking at this as the adult who had many years ago developed my Core Beliefs from my parents. Now I think about it as the mother who is affecting a tiny boy’s future Core Beliefs. It’s difficult to accept that I am passing down negative beliefs to Jack. It hurts to know that Jack will take all of this in and live his life with negativity passed down from me. But it is true, it happens to all of us, and I want to remember this so that I can continue to do the work to understand myself, make changes and challenge my negative thinking when it arises.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder, breastfeeding son

Jack sees me struggle to handle big emotions, become overwhelmed and tell myself that I can’t handle it. He will learn to react this way to big emotions if I myself don’t routinely work to manage my own. He will learn that big emotions are scary and are to be feared and overcome by. When he is having his own big emotions I try to tell him everything will be OK, that he is safe, that mama is here. No, this won’t fix everything, but it’s my effort to give Jack what might have been missing when I developed my personal Core Beliefs. And that’s all I can do. He will develop his own and maybe the very ones that I try to ward off. But I tried. I put in the effort to understand myself and how I affect his life in the long run. I gave him… something.

It becomes clearer and clearer to me that gentle parenting is not about Jack. It’s really about me becoming self-aware. Learning how my early experiences affect me now and how I pass this onto Jack. I came into gentle parenting through breastfeeding struggles that led me to Attachment Parenting that led me to a broader sense of parenting gently. I look back at Attachment Parenting as a beautiful set of tools. They say “the 7 B’s are tools not rules.” I truly understand this now. Bed-sharing, breastfeeding, babywearing and so forth are wonderful concrete concepts to introduce parents to that they can fully understand and participate in if they choose. But these truly are just tools. Being close to my baby, being fully present for my baby and focusing on positive attachment depend on something much bigger. This comes from a place deep inside me. I can bed-share until the cows come home, but unless I focus on being aware of myself and what I am passing down to Jack I am not really present in our relationship. Which is the whole point. To me it’s the thing that takes the word “parent” from a noun to a verb.

Abby Theuring, MSW

Comments

  1. “I am good enough”….best part of this blog post.

  2. Victoria says:

    I love that. Taking “parent” from a noun to a verb.

  3. So true, parenting is about being present in the moment with your baby.

  4. Ok, so I have to be honest…I was a little reluctant to read this from the title. Normally reading “gentle parenting”, things don’t go in this direction. The few articles I have read on the subject have been by extremists: people who believe you should ALWAYS connect instead of punish, who think that it means to never say no, and who believe anyone doing something different is unenlightened and borderline abusive. I honestly wouldn’t think of this article as gentle parenting, but rather as connected parenting. Being able to put yourself in their shoes and their mind frame was a huge eye opener for my personal experience. I love the way you phrased so much in this article, and how honest it was. Thank you!

  5. Lacey Foster says:

    This is wonderful. It truly hits home for me. I catch myself getting so caught up in my negatative emotions all the time. I have recently become aware of Attachment Parenting and Gentle Parenting. When I read to expand my knowledge on them, it just makes sense to me! My son is 22 weeks old tomorrow and he is EBF. I have bedshared since he was born. I wore him a little in the newborn stages, but now I’ve been trying to get him use to being carried again because he is becoming very independent so I try not to overpower that and take that from him. But sometimes I just feel so overwhelmed and helpless! My husband works 2 jobs so I be a SAHM, which he prefers I do anyways, but that leaves me taking care of a baby by myself 24/7 without a break. It gets very stressful. You have given me a positive perspective and hope! I must confess, in my worst moment I yelled at my son for crying because I just couldn’t figure out why he was crying and couldn’t soothe my baby…I feel so awful for that, I never want that to ever happen again! So thank you for all you do and all your positivity! You have helped me in a lot of different ways!
    -Lacey Foster

  6. Sarah Wright says:

    I just wanted to commend you for making us non-attachment parents, who were not able to breastfeed for more than a few months and that never wore their children not feel so shitty. I have read so much about Attachment Parenting and EBF. I know when I stopped breastfeeding at 3 months I felt horrible and relieved at the same time — Pumping in my car at work didn’t work for me and I didn’t have another option at the time. My son has never slept with us he went straight to his crib at 8 weeks and loves it (he is not 22 months and 3 ft tall and still does not climb out). He thinks our bed is for playing 1-2-3 tickle. I never wore him (he was a large baby 15lbs at 4 months and he didn’t like the restriction and neither did mommy’s back). But I have a wonderful son who is independent, caring (always gives kisses, hugs and makes sure my husband kisses me goodbye in the morning), he’s a great eater (he’s now 31 lbs), talks at a 3 year old level, knows his abcs, can count to 10 and loves to line up all his toys in straight lines (he gets that OCD from his mom). He knows that if he bumps his knee mommy will kiss it and he only wants to be held when “momma rocks her baby” every night before I place him awake (most of the times) into his bed with Elmo and his blanket. So many parenting sites, guides and books tell you what you should do and how to do it but in reality we just need to BE close, BE present and BE the best us. Because we (the parent) our our children’s best role model, parenting guide and friend. Of all the things I wish I could have done longer or better — not one of them has scarred him for life or stunted his development. I have an intelligent, outgoing and special little boy because I focused on being the best mom I could be! I just wish more sites/experts/other moms would just remind us to be OURbest rather than what they think is best!!! (Sorry if this rambles)

  7. So many times I read what you write and think “oh my god, this is me!” I can’t tell you enough how good it feels to know that other moms struggle with the things I do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and life as a mom with us. Not only do I know I am not the only mom who questions her choices but you give me hope that I can change and that even with mistakes, I am a good mumma who is trying her best and loves her little boy more than anything else in the world. Thanks Badass!! xo

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