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I have  noticed a stumbling block that many people have when we talk about emotional/relational needs and I wanted to share it with you.  You see, most of who you are is shaped long before your teenage years and some in psychological circles say before you turn 2 or 3.  I remember when Joe turned 2 I jokingly said to Rachel, “Well, I’m glad THAT is over.  It was tough raising a kid.”  However, as we learn about emotional needs and look to our childhood I have noticed a bit of hesitancy to look at what we didn’t get.  Some get protective with what our parents/caregivers did or didn’t give us.  We are quick to defend why they were or weren’t xyz as parents and why they didn’t meet ALL of our needs.

Some of us who are now parents ourselves look to our children and can’t imagine the marks (at least the self condemning kind of parents like myself) we are leaving on their emotional make up.  It can be (and this might just be me) almost mind cramping and cause us to freeze up.

However, as always, the truth remains.  Either you had an emotional need met or you didn’t.  Either they hurt you or they didn’t.  There is only one guarantee about how you were raised.  They didn’t meet all of your needs at some point they hurt you emotionally.  That’s just the way it is and that is the way we as people are made.

Looking back at my childhood and observing the life my kids lead now I have come to two obvious conclusions.  We are shaped in two major ways.  The first is the things that happened to us that really hurt.  Divorce, rage issues, neglect, loss, etc.  These were events or instances that have a lasting impact that are fresh in our minds to this day.  Much more often than not, if not almost never were they comforted properly at the time and rarely revisited properly as adults.  These are the things that when they are triggered by similar events today that leave that sick feeling in your stomach.  You’ve probably thought of one or two just reading this and have that feeling as you read this (sorry, both for then…and now).

The other major way that we are shaped is having needs simply not being met.  I mentioned how I wasn’t hugged much or told that I was loved.  Did I know that I was loved?  Sure.  Did I know that I was raised in a loving home?  Yes.  Did I hear or receive much affection?  No. Was it on purpose?  No.  Are there reasons why my parents didn’t lead a household where these things were prevalent?  Absolutely.  Does the fact that there were reasons why I didn’t get them lessen my need for the needs I didn’t get?  Not at all.

So, we are shaped by events that hurt us and needs that simply weren’t met.  Keep in mind that just as the point isn’t to blame our parents/caregivers, we cannot ignore the fact that there were things that  hurt us and things we didn’t get.

After the affection post, my mother called me and we had a great talk about how she was raised.  We talked then about how I was raised.  I have to give her a ton of credit as we kind of just walked through it together.  Neither of us were defensive (me for my writing…about her, her for how she raised us) and I was lead to some great thoughts about being a parent.  If you are a great contextual reader  you’ve probably gleaned that a lot of what I have written about so far in this post stemmed from that conversation with my mom…you would be correct.

I have been coming to a conclusion but my talk with my dearest mother (half of you are thinking, “how highly he speaks of his mother” the other half of you are thinking, “who’s he trying to kid?”) solidified it.  As Rachel and I raise our children two things are inevitable.  One, and this one was easy to grasp, things are going to happen to our kids.  We  cannot control nor prevent that.  We cannot completely prepare them for the negative impact it will have on them.  Life and negative events go hand and hand and leave marks on us all, even and especially our children.  Further, our shortcomings as parents will do much the same.  We cannot be the perfect parents and where we fall short will hurt them to whatever degree.  Second, no matter how much we try to make sure that all of their emotional needs are met…I/we won’t.  It’s impossible.  Thus, Rachel and I will continue to try to meet as many as possible as often as possible.  We will give ourselves grace in the process and wait for our kids to blog about it someday.

So be careful to not simply say, “I don’t get it” about how your childhood shaped you or “Things were different then” to excuse your parents…parenting.    Don’t excuse away things that happened or the way you were raised.  It shaped who you are now and influences what you do now.  What are your emotional needs?  You do have them.  Lastly, don’t beat yourself up as a parent or spend too much time trying to meet every need of your children.  You’ll probably just end up creating another need other than the one you’re trying to fill now.  Keep being real, enjoy your day.  Trey update tomorrow.

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