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What Are Your Projecting Onto Your Children?

A quick note to parents or anyone who spends time around children. Children are our mirrors and we can choose to learn from them or act as their superiors. Many adults take that position with children. For example:

“Do it because I said so!….I’m the grown up and you’re the kid!…..Do it or else!…..You’re not in charge!….I know more than you because I’m older!

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Any of these sound familiar? Maybe you heard them growing up or you said them yourself. I’m not saying that parents do not have any say in how their children should behave or that they are not in charge of most things involving raising their children. However, do you project onto your kids and blame them for misbehaving or making the wrong choices? Just as we project our shadows onto adults, we do the same onto children. What kind of shadows might you be projecting on your kids? Here are a few examples. He’s too sensitive. She is a drama queen. He’s hyper. She has an attitude. He’s clumsy. She’s mean. He’s difficult. She is stubborn. He’s a liar. She manipulates.

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If you have seen the movie, The Shadow Effect, or know about projections, then you know that when you point your finger at someone, 3 fingers are pointing back at you. When you are labeling your child and making them wrong, it’s usually because that trait exist in you and you’ve denied it or have not wanted to own it. I have 2 children and I noticed that the one I project the most on is the one who is more like me. If you have more than 1 child, notice which one pushes your buttons more. If you look beyond the surface, you’ll probably notice that the traits or behaviors you dislike in your child are things you wouldn’t feel comfortable calling yourself.

I found throughout the years that every label I placed on my son were qualities that I am and never liked or tried really hard to deny. I can honestly admit that I too can be “bratty, selfish, sensitive, moody, careless, and difficult.” I can assure you that my husband wouldn’t disagree with this! The one I have the hardest time with is “sensitive.” My whole life I was called sensitive by my parents and cried so much when I was young. I could barely have a conversation with my father without tearing up. So of course this is the quality that is the most difficult to accept in my own son. Once I recognized myself in my son, I could then begin to own back all of those disowned aspects or shadows in myself. One by one, I found the gifts in those qualities and I was able to love, accept and integrate them as my own. As I did that, I could see how my reactions to my son’s behaviors lessened and so did my power struggles. I now love his sensitivity because he’s in touch with his emotions and he can communicate them to me. This allows me to give him the tools he needs to deal with it instead of making him wrong for it. It also makes him more sensitive to others and he often shows his compassion towards animals, insects and his sister! By the way, he’s 7!

Are you finding yourself labeling your children? Are you having many power struggles with your children? If so, start paying attention to the qualities you identify them with. Make a list and see which ones you recognize in yourself. As they say, “The apple does not fall far from the tree”. Our children learn much more from watching us then from what we say. As a great mentor of mine, Dawn Roth, founder of Licensed2parent often says to parents whose children are misbehaving “you the parents are the problem but you are also the solution!” In shadow work, that translates into each parent taking back their projections and teaching their child what it is like to be whole!

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