“When I was a little girl, I would pretend I was a princess… trapped in a tower by a wicked queen and then suddenly this knight… on a white horse with these colours flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And I would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue me.”
Do you remember Julia Roberts and Richard Gear in that 90s Rom Com classic?
I knew all the lines without really grasping the real meaning of ‘Pretty Woman’. The story of Vivian and Edward; a prostitute and rich businessman who fell in love and lived happily ever after.
We all deserve our happily ever after.
What does that mean for you?
People often fail to realise happiness is our responsibility and it feels different things to each one of us.
More importantly, as a parent, I know more than anything, you want your child to be happy and healthy. So, I want to share with you how positive relationships are key to your child’s happiness and how you can influence that.
I can remember growing up, my sisters and I would recite the scenes from ‘Pretty Woman’ on long car journeys. We would also fill up mixtapes with songs from Dirty Dancing, Top Gun and Karate Kid.
Those were the days.
Do you remember: ‘The Glory of Love’ by Peter Citera? Other favs whilst we skip down memory lane: ‘You are my Destiny’ by Lionel Richie, ‘I don’t wanna miss a thing’ by Aerosmith. Oh and what about ‘It Must Be Love’ by Madness.
If you were raised in that era, you may still be patiently waiting for your knight in shining armour to show up and rescue you from your 7th undrunk cup of cold tea (you can’t ping it in the microwave again!).
I don’t blame you. I really don’t.
Lots of us grew up believing that this romantic love exists
Worse still: that it’s healthy. As if your knight in shining armour, or anybody else, holds the key to your happiness.
The brainwashing started young. Disney taught us that you have to be special and chosen for love (Cinderella). Love can fix you (Beauty and the Beast) and love saves you from your toxic family (Rapunzel).
I hate to shatter that illusion but if you have children – I feel compelled to tell you the truth. You don’t want to pass that legacy on to them, do you?
Love Does Not Conquer All. Love does not complete us.
Well not dysfunctional, co-dependent, boundary-less love where your sense of self is lost and two become one (as sung by The Spice Girls – another smash hit in the 90s). Your illusion of love is based on that film fantasy or you have an unrealistic expectation of the other person to show up as you need them to be, which isn’t in any way related to whom they truly are.
We cannot blame ourselves for very naively buying into the lie that love is about somebody else showing up to complete you. That you’re nothing without the love and approval of somebody else.That without a significant other, there’s something wrong with you. In the back of your mind, you’re wondering: ‘Does everybody feel this exhausted dealing with people and find them so tricky?’
You may even feel unaccepted and rejected by society who continues to live by this brainwashed illusive love myth.
You hang on in there; waiting for the tide to turn.
You start to feel confused and possibly a tad desperate.
Did you not get the memo? Maybe you weren’t good enough and unlovable after all.
You didn’t tick all the boxes.
That is a wonky blueprint for love!
All 90s nostalgia aside, our blueprint for love is formed by our attachment style with our primary caregiver. As we grow up, this template forms the basis of all our relationships. What is or was your relationship like with your parents? Do you proudly emulate the secure love they gave you in childhood, or have you given up proclaiming that it’s too hard?
What does love feel like to you?
If love …
- feels like you have to earn it (it’s freely given – no strings attached).
- means keeping your parents happy or protecting them from their feelings.
- means being and doing what the other person wants otherwise you’ll lose their love.
- involves pretending, keeping secrets about what’s really going on in your relationship or telling lies to yourself.
- means sacrificing any part of yourself (including your wants, needs and desires) for another.
- was confusing or unpredictable (love is consistent and safe).
- meant pain (love doesn’t hurt).
If you’re reading this and it’s resonating; it’s very likely your blueprint for love is wonky.
You’re lovable as you are!
When I look back through my teen diaries, my whole world was about if a boy liked me or not. My self-esteem was precariously placed outside of myself and totally dependent on my grades, my outfit choices and boys. How Low Self Esteem Negatively Impacts Every Area of Your Life
What about the inherent worth we’re born with? You don’t have to do or be anything to be lovable. You simply are. All that really got lost in translation didn’t it? This is the important part that we need to have inside of us in order to give it to our child. 10 Ways to Raise Your Child’s Self Esteem
Are you role modelling your faulty blueprint to your child?
- Do you place your worth on what others say or think?
- Do you compare yourself to other families or other Mums in the school playground? Is it about keeping up with the Jones’ instead of nurturing your unique and individual family needs?
This sends the message to your child that what other people think of them is more important than what they think or know themselves to be.
It’s very disempowering, isn’t it? To believe that your worth comes from another person. To seek approval and validation that you’re a good person without knowing it to be true deep inside.
When children don’t really know what love is, they will tolerate all sorts of cruel and mean behaviour
Looking back and reflecting, what beliefs have you created around love? If I could talk to my teen self now, I would definitely tell her that getting to know myself and finding my place in the world was way more important than any of those things.
That self-belief, self-confidence and valuing who I was would mean that it was highly unlikely that I would get involved in abusive or toxic relationships.Is Your Child At Risk of Getting into An Abusive Relationship?
That is what I do for a living now: I am that person for my young clients. I help children to treat themselves with loving kindness and compassion. I teach them how to stand up and speak the truth even when their voice shakes. You can find out more about this in my ‘Be Your Own Best Friend’ online course.
We have unrealistic expectations about love which leave us feeling empty and dissatisfied. I also teach families how to rewrite their blueprint for healthy love because so many of us are living a lie.
Our wonky blueprint for love left unnoticed gets passed on
Parents have blind spots (this is their unconscious wounding from childhood) which leaks out in their behaviour. It’s nobody’s fault. Generational patterns of loving and relating get passed down through families. Sadly, where there is addiction, trauma and abuse, history repeats itself.
Without awareness and healing, wonky blueprints produce wonky blueprints
If your childhood leaves you with a wonky blueprint for love, it’s not your fault, but without awareness, it’s very likely you’ll pendulum completely the other way and create a whole new set of problems. You can see why can’t you?
“However we treat the child, the child will treat the world.” — Pam Leo
School will be the first time your child builds a relationship outside of the family and so if there are red flags here, take note. This is a loud warning of what future partners and relationships could look like.
Children who are bullied attract friends who treat them as less than
It mirrors back to them how little they value themselves. They lose themselves in the friendship and they abandon themselves by going along with what the bully wants. Why Does Your Child Settle for Friendships which Hurt them?
They give away their power by waiting for that person to validate their worth. A bully cannot do that. They’re in a state of lack in those areas too.
It’s like trying to extract apple juice from an orange. Stop seeking love from people who cannot give it to you.
Just like I did, these children grow up with low self-esteem believing that their value lies in what they do and what they achieve. Their weak boundaries mean they tolerate other people’s disrespectful behaviour and they tolerate things they shouldn’t. They over give, they’re overly responsible and they are left depleted and wondering: ‘What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I fit in?’
Other people do not define your lovability
Role modelling a wonky blueprint for love to your children sends them out into the world powerless. They grow up believing that it’s their job to wait for life to happen to them, to tolerate disrespect and to be ‘good’ kids.
’A dysfunctional childhood leaves a child with horribly low self-esteem, the inability to have fun, being super responsible and becoming a dependent personality terrified of abandonment. The consequence is that adult children don’t know who they are, they don’t know how to take care of their needs and how to feel good about themselves. They don’t enjoy intimacy and they don’t know how to keep themselves safe. They get involved in disastrous relationships, act impulsively, judge themselves without mercy, and constantly seek approval and security.’ – Becoming Your Own Parent, Dennis Wholey
Healthy Relationships require real intimacy
Real intimacy requires authenticity and vulnerability
That means feeling emotionally safe around and being able to trust those closest to us. It means knowing that you can share your softer feelings and not fear them being used against you. If you didn’t have emotional safety with your parents, then you won’t know your inherent worth and you won’t know how to mirror that back to your child.
The legacy of a healthy blueprint for love
Becoming aware of your own beliefs about love will help you redefine them. When it comes to your role as a parent, you can do this exercise and recognise that change is possible with some awareness and willingness on your part.
Often parents are triggered by the strong-willed child who constantly pushes boundaries (it’s similar to a boundary-breaking / authoritarian parent). Or at the other end of the scale parents are triggered by ignoring children who don’t listen to them (it’s reminiscent of the parent who didn’t give you enough positive mirroring and see you as you were).
Let’s break the cycle!
If you want to explore and understand your blueprint for love, then you can have a go at the following exercise:
1. Start off by writing down a list of your key relationships
2. Next to each one, write down how they make you feel. Use adjective feeling words like secure, loved, happy or mistrusting, suspicious, powerless.
a. How authentic are you in this relationship? Are you being your true self with this person or are you hiding parts of yourself? Are you looking for their approval; so you might even change to what you think they need you to be?
b. How emotionally safe do you feel with this person? Can you be vulnerable and know that you won’t be judged, belittled, dismissed or criticised for how you feel?
3. Looking at your list, see if you can identify relational patterns or types of people you’re drawn to. Does that reflect the relationship you have with a primary caregiver? It’s very likely you’re playing out an old story and hoping it will end differently.
4. What does the relationship mirror back to you? Notice how the other person triggers you (brings up strong feelings). Sometimes what we don’t like in other people, are parts of ourselves that we’ve suppressed or struggle to accept.
5. Acknowledge that you can’t change the other person, only the way you’re relating to them or what you’re allowing to happen in your relationship.
Do you want your child to choose healthy friendships?
Do you worry that your child is alone or unhappy?
Many parents tell me how painful it is for them to see their child in the wrong friendship or without friends.
The desire to fit in and be accepted is strong
Is your child hanging out with so-called friends who leave them out or gossip about them behind their back? They feel invisible and ignored.
Perhaps your child forms friendships where the power is out of balance and they become a doormat. They can’t quite stand up for themselves and they let other people tell them what to do.
Does your child feel responsible for how other people feel? Or are they desperate to be in the ‘popular’ gang and be seen as one of the trendy crew? Maybe they even try and get others to like and accept them and hide or change parts of themselves to fit in?
Children with low self-esteem struggle with friendships
Find more about how this online course can help your child take back their power and learn important life and social skills.