Momma Bear is one of our most important roles as we navigate the mission of raising a family.
It’s valuable to appreciate it is a role, not who we are. What I mean by that is, Momma Bear is important to turn up to advocate for our child, though equally it’s important to separate it from who we are so that we can maintain harmony.
When we put too much of ourselves into our role as Momma Bear, what can happen is we may lose sight of some of the other aspects of our lives that are also important. We lose touch with the essence of ourselves, contributing a drop in harmony and connection.
For instance, a common thread I notice is when Momma Bear intercedes when Papa Bear is managing or dealing with the kids.
I get it, whether we like it or not, mothers tend to do more than a 50% share of child management. Whether it’s due to career choices, family lifestyle choices or personal preferences.
Our child’s relationship with their other parent is personal to them.
I don’t know whether this is a female or a feminine issue or whether it’s a primary carer challenge. I was definitely a momma bear, warrior, lioness when it came to my children.
Regardless, what is important to consider is that while advocating for our child is important, it’s not a great idea to interfere, nor criticise our partner when they are managing their child (even if they are also our’s).
I’m sure I am not entirely alone in ever having had this proprietary perspective on my kids at times. Especially when I was THE at home parent, and my husband spent days, weeks and months away with work.
The thing we need to remember is that our child also has a relationship with their father, other primary carer. In order to feel emotionally safe, they need to build their relationship together.
Some dad’s find it difficult to integrate into the family and find their feet, especially when they partner with a momma bear. They may appreciate her mum qualities and be afraid of stepping out of line at the same time.
Especially dads who work away or long hours. He can be stuck between a rock and a hard place in as much as not wanting to disrupt the routines, while at the same time not sure how to establish a relationship with their child.
Some dads may detach, not because they are wanting to be distant, and rather for emotional self-protection because they don’t want to be rejected. Lots of assumptions can get caught about why a dad responds in certain ways.
What if we all them to be then, do them, and support them with growing even better relationships. Rather than trying to control the outcomes. (Or maybe that was just me).
What is most important from our children’s perspective is that we don’t undermine their other parent in front of them.
Doesn’t matter if dad is not making the best choices in the moment. As long as physical abuse is not happening (and I don’t mean a wack, which I don’t agree with either but is not appropriate to intervene in the moment), everything else is fixable through healthy communication.
Even though it’s really tempting when our Momma Bear protective instinct kicks in to want to take action in the moment. While we think we are protecting our child from potential emotional injury, what can get triggered instead is lots of uncertainty, a loss of harmony in the family.
Parenting is a TEAM Sport
As parents, our child will do much better with seeing their parents as a team. That even when one parent doesn’t DO parenting the same, that they are still in alignment. This enables a child to feel safe and grounded. (This applies even in families where the parents live separately and trade time.)
Children do not require perfect parents, they do need good enough parents, who provide a safe haven that supports them know that they are loved and accepted even when they make mistakes.
In order to create more harmony at home. In those tempting moments of rescue, is to pause. Walk away, let dad and his child figure things out.
If it really is a disaster, let each go off and lick their wounds and support each of them to process so that they can do better next time.
It’s in the space after the conflict, Momma Bear must be Switzerland.
Being SWITZERLAND is important
Being Switzerland refers to being neutral. Avoid taking sides. You want to be supporting re-connection.
If the way dad handled it was less than ideal, then you can talk about it at a time when the heat has gone out of the issue. Whether in a private discussion later in the day, or after the kids have retired for the day.
If the child is stressed, resist the temptation to rescue. They don’t need rescuing, they might need some support to work through their feelings. In order for this support to be healthy, it must be without judgement, justification or defensiveness. It must never take sides.
It might seem like a good idea to be collegiate and side with them about how bad dad was. Though in doing that, what can happen is that we lose their trust and respect. They don’t need us to be their friend. They do need us to be their trusted confident.
Focus on the Problem not the person/people
It was one of the things I recall my dad saying to my mum, was never use him as a threat, as in “wait till your father gets home”. Because children, especially small children need to know that their primary carer is capable. When we use the threat, it undermines their confidence in our ability to manage.
In addition, in that moment they might not like dad much, but if we use language like that, we can be perceived as disloyal and untrustworthy.
The other potential fallout is we set ourselves up to become part of a taking sides deflection game. Where the child plays one parent off against the other. They do it without conscious intention. However, if it supports them in their goal to feel safer, achieve their outcome, they will use any tool that appears to them.
Parenting can be a rollercoaster of a ride.
We are not meant to be the only adult/s in our child’s lives. It’s an awfully big load to carry on our own. It makes it difficult if for whatever reason you are distanced from family, physically or emotionally.
We all need a tribe / village to be part of our support system.
If you are in the trenches and certainty seems elusive, then come connect in Conscious Wholehearted Parenting Tribe.
You are enough and
Together we ARE Stronger.