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S2 EP199 – Loving Parenting – How Were You Parented?

Episode Summary

No matter how much time you spend with your children, if you are tense instead of present and peaceful, they will not be getting what they need from you. When you are open to learning with your children and with yourself, you will not need to resort to authoritarian or permissive controlling behaviors. 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding Podcast. Many of my clients over the years have sought my help to understand how to parent their children differently than they were parented. Most of them came from either authoritarian controlling parents, or overly permissive parents, and they didn’t feel loved with either form of parenting. And they wonder how else to parent.

Parenting becomes a joy and a sacred privilege instead of a burden when you learn to be a loving role-model for your children. When you learn to be loving to yourself, you will naturally know how to be loving to your children. When you learn to be in the intent to learn with yourself, you will naturally be open to learning with your children, which is what they need. When you are open to learning with your children, you will not need to resort to the controlling behaviors of authoritarian parenting or permissive parenting. Parenting as a loving adult with an intent to learn about yourself and your children leads to totally different outcomes than parenting from your authoritarian or permissive wounded self.

Doing your inner work, practicing the Six Steps of Inner Bonding daily, is the very best thing you can do for yourself and your children. As you become a loving parent to yourself, you will become a loving parent to your children. As you learn what it means to truly see and love yourself, you will be able to truly see and love your children. As you role-model loving action toward yourself, others and your children, your children will learn how to be loving to themselves, to others and to you.

Doing your own inner work is not only the greatest gift you can give to yourself and your children, it’s the greatest gift you can give to the planet. Through healing yourself and bringing up healthy, caring, empathic children, you participate in changing the world.

My clients with children, or my clients who are elementary school teachers, often ask me about how to teach Inner Bonding to children. Young children learn Inner Bonding very easily because they have excellent imaginations and easy access to their feelings. However, it is best not to try to teach it to them until you are fairly proficient at it yourself. You are the role-model. They will learn it naturally when you have built it into your own life.

It’s easy for children to imagine a fairly godmother or a guardian angel, a super-hero, or, if they are sports-minded, an inner coach. By using their imaginations, they can easily tap into their higher wisdom. You will be amazed at the wisdom they can access!

You might want to get your child a doll or stuffed animal that represents his or her hurt self – the fear, anger, sadness, disappointment, and anxiety that your child may feel at times. Tell your child to imagine his or her guidance – fairy godmother, angel, coach, imaginary friend, and so on – and ask their guidance what this little hurting child needs. With a little practice, your son or daughter will begin to access truth and loving action. You can help your children, even very young children, learn to take personal responsibility for their feelings and actions, rather than you trying to control them with authoritarian or permissive parenting.

Many children have sensitive bodies and are very reactive to sugar, pesticides, preservatives, and other chemicals that are in food and water. Many behavior problems stem from brain toxicity caused by poor nutrition. Just as being a loving adult to yourself means taking good care of your body, being a loving parent means taking good care of your child’s body. It is vital to educate yourself in this important area.

Jim Henson, Creator of The Muppets, said “The attitude you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from more than what you tell them. They don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”

Half of good parenting is being there for your children, and the other half is being there for yourself. What would you have given as you were growing up to have had parents who role-modeled taking loving care of their feelings, their health, their finances, their environment? What would you have given to have had joyful, empathic, healthy parents who showed you how to manage their conflicts in loving ways, who were fulfilled in their work, relationships, friendships, and parenting? What might your life be like today if your parents were role models of taking personal responsibility in all areas of their lives?

Becoming a happy, healthy, empathic, compassionate role model is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family.

I’ve read many parenting books over the years that offer wonderful suggestions regarding how to lovingly parent children. Yet, in order to really implement most of the suggestions, parents need to also be focused on loving themselves, rather than only focusing on their children. And how many parents ARE focused on what is loving to themselves, rather than on controlling their children?

The problem with most parenting books is that they don’t deal with INTENTION. I remember years ago taking a class in Parent Effectiveness Training. It was a terrific class, except that it never mentioned intent. So when I tried to implement the suggestions, my children ended up feeling manipulated by my ‘I messages.’ And they were right. At that time, I didn’t understand the difference between the intent to learn to take loving care of myself, and the intent to control them, so my ‘I messages’ were just another way of trying to control them.

I see this over and over with different parenting techniques.

Children are very sensitive to intent, so when a parent’s intent is to control the child, it doesn’t matter how correct the technique, it will backfire.

What this means is that in order to be a truly loving parent, you need to be operating in connection with your higher guidance, so that you know what is loving to both you and them. Without connection with your guidance, you will be operating from your programmed wounded self, and may continue to do what you learned to do as you were growing up or go the other way and do the opposite in an effort to not parent as you were parented. If your parents were authoritarian, then you might also be authoritarian, or you might be permissive to try to not do what they did. But neither is loving to yourself or to your children.

There are many wonderful programs available to help us be better parents and better communicators in all our relationships, but without understanding intent, they can easily become just another way to manipulate. Any system, including Inner Bonding, can be used to control when that is the intent. Being aware of choosing the intent to learn is the key for all systems to work.

One of the challenges the parents I work with experience is how to take care of themselves while also taking care of their children. Many of us were brought up in homes with parents who had no idea of how to take care of themselves. Their identity was defined by other people, so they needed to control us and each other with their anger, shaming, blaming, demanding, withdrawal, compliance, resistance and so on. They role-modeled many ways of trying to control while not being controlled. They also wanted control over their painful feelings, so they might have attempted to suppress their feelings through substance and process addictions – such as food, alcohol, TV, and work – as well as with their other controlling behaviors. What they did not do was take responsibility for their own feelings and needs. Many of us had parents who role-modeled being victims – blaming each other or you for their unhappiness and trying to get others to change.

Most of us grew up with parents who were wounded, and with no strong loving adult. Many of them may have believed in God, but it’s likely that they didn’t have a direct and personal spiritual connection to help them evolve and grow in their lovingness. Many of our parents were not on a growth path and may have had very little inner life. 

Many of us were brought up to believe that taking care of ourselves was selfish – that our job was to be selfless and just care for others.

In turn, others were supposed to love and care for us. In this way, we were trained to be codependent.

None of this is loving parenting.

You want your children to grow up into adults who are personally responsible, which means being responsible for their physical health and financial wellbeing, and for their own feelings and needs, and for being caring, compassionate, and empathic toward others. I doubt you want to raise needy and demanding children who are self-centered, nor do you want to raise children who are caretakers, giving themselves up to take care of others but not taking care of themselves.

So, how do you raise your children into caring and personally responsible adults? By being a caring and personally responsible loving adult – who cares about your children AND yourself.

The challenge is to be there for your children without giving yourself up in the process.

This means being available for your children with love, acceptance and understanding when they need you there, but also staying tuned in to your own needs for love, acceptance and understanding.

Here is an example:

Judith is the mother of Julie, age four. Julie tends to be a demanding child, wanting Judith’s attention full time. When she doesn’t get her way, she will cry and whine and generally act miserable – sometimes throwing herself on the floor in a full-blown tantrum.

Judith has tried getting angry, giving Julie more attention, holding her, or walking away, but none of these worked. The problem was that Judith’s intent was to control her daughter, rather than to love her and love herself. As subtle as it may seem, children do pick up on our intent, and as soon as our intent is to control them, they may go into resistance, as well as escalating their own controlling behaviors.

Judith decided that it was time to learn to love Julie and love herself, rather than trying to control her daughter. The next time Julie became whiny and demanding, Judith took a moment to connect with her spiritual guidance for help and support. Her guidance instructed her to calmly sit with Julie, bringing compassion down to her own inner child and sending love and compassion out energetically to Julie – with no agenda to get her to stop being whiny and demanding. Judith found that now, when she held Julie, Julie quieted down. 

Judith was amazed at how quickly Julie stopped her demanding behavior and temper tantrums when Judith was able to regulate her own feelings, which is what helped Julia regulate her feelings.

Children easily pick up a parent’s energy. If the parent is anxious or angry, the child picks that up, and also feels anxious or angry. If the parent is regulating his or her own feelings, this calm energy helps the child to regulate his or her own feelings.

When Julie got that her mother was no longer trying to control her, she not only stopped trying to control Judith, she also stopped resisting. She had no reason to resist, since Judith was not trying to control her or change her.

In addition, Judith role-modeled personally responsible, caring, self-regulating behavior for Julie, instead of angry, compliant, controlling and victim behavior. This is the best gift Judith could give to her daughter.

It is far easier to lovingly parent our children when we are lovingly parenting ourselves and are taking responsibility for our own pain and joy. A major aspect of loving parenting is to stay aware of your own intent. It’s easy to fall into trying to manage your fears and anxiety by trying to control your children with anger or compliance. By staying focused on the intent to be loving to yourself and to your children, you will be offering your children the incredible gift of role-modeling personally responsible loving behavior.

Can you think of anything more important to your children than you being a happy, empathic, and fulfilled parent?

Think back to your own childhood. Were your parents happy, empathic, peaceful, and fulfilled? Were they often filled with joy and laughter? Were they loving and supportive of you, themselves, and each other?

Mine weren’t. My mother was constantly anxious and worried about everything. She was often angry at me, no matter how good I was. She and my father often fought. My father was usually withdrawn, and often angry as well. There was almost constant tension in the home. They generally seemed to be unhappy.

I would have given anything for my parents to be relaxed and peaceful. I would have given anything for them to be loving with each other and with me. I wanted them to be happy and fulfilled. I wanted them to show me how to feel a deep sense of self-worth, how to feel safe and secure, how to give and receive love, and how to lovingly resolve conflict. They couldn’t do this for me, though, because they didn’t know how to do these things for themselves.

What your children need from you is for you to learn how to be this role model for them. No matter how much time or how many material things you give to your children, if your presence with them is tense instead of happy and peaceful, they will not be getting what they need from you. You can give them wonderful toys, send them to the best schools, take incredible vacations, provide enriching activities – all this is the icing in the cake. But it’s not the cake. The cake – the foundation – is you being a wonderful role model of self-care and caring about them and others.

This means that you need to practice Inner Bonding and learn to take full responsibility for your own feelings of joy and pain, of peace and of tension. It means that the very best thing you can do for your children is to be on your own Inner Bonding growth path.

When my friend Katie had her first child, she was determined to be a wonderful mother. She read everything she could about loving parenting and was devoted to being there 100% for her little daughter. Yet within the first years of Amanda’s little life, she was showing signs of stress, such as not sleeping well, being cranky a lot, and not being easily soothed.

While visiting Katie and her husband Rob one day, I noticed that Katie was often very critical of Rob, and Rob would just take it without saying anything. In Katie’s eyes, Rob was incompetent and couldn’t do anything right for Amanda. Katie had read all the books, and she believed she knew the right way to parent. What she didn’t realize was that the constant tension that existed between her and Rob was being absorbed by Amanda. Amanda was manifesting the stress that Katie was dumping onto Rob, and that Rob was swallowing.

The dynamic of Katie thinking that she was right and trying to control Rob, and Rob not taking care of himself in the face of the criticism, was not only very poor role-modeling for Amanda but was also causing her much stress. Neither Katie nor Rob were taking responsibility for their own feelings. Katie was dealing with her stress by trying to control Rob with criticism, and Rob was dealing with his stress by trying to control Katie with his compliance and silence. The resulting energy was too much for Amanda. It was difficult for me as well!

I decided to speak up with my friends in the hope they would be open to my perceptions. Fortunately, they were grateful for the information and began to make some changes in their relationship system. As their stress gradually diminished, so did Amanda’s.

Do you see the souls of your children, even when they are acting out?

Let’s say that your toddler is having her second tantrum of the day while your four year old son is racing around the house with the neighbor’s child. You feel completely stressed out and are questioning your decision to have these kids, with a third on the way! What were you thinking?!

At times like this you might want to remember who and what your children really are. You might want to remember that your children are spiritual beings with eternal souls, who courageously came here to evolve their souls in love through the earthly experience. You might want to remember that they are wonderful, loving, creative beings who are learning how to operate on the planet in their little bodies. You might want to remember that your children are souls who need your love as much as they need oxygen, food, and water. You might want to remember that in their souls, they are peaceful beings, and that they may respond to being seen as peaceful beings even in the midst of chaos.

On a side note, if your child has conduct disorder, which means that he or she is exhibiting sociopathic traits, such as hurting animals or other kids, or you, you must immediately seek professional help with a specialist in that area. This behavior becomes worse with time and the earlier your child receives appropriate help, the better. 

Your response to your children’s difficult behavior has much to do with shaping your own parenting experience as well as shaping their characters.

When you see yourself as having the privilege of shepherding these precious souls into adulthood, rather than feeling burdened with the task of raising these children, your own experience of parenthood will be greatly enhanced. When you connect with the beautiful essence of their spirits, even in the midst of having to handle the tantrum and navigate the challenges of chaos, you teach them to value their own beauty. When you stay conscious of the love, empathy, and peacefulness within your own soul, you role-model for them who they really are.

You have the choice each moment to see your children through spiritual eyes of love or through earthly eyes of fear and control. The moment your intention is to control them, you are likely to respond to their tantrums, demands, and resistance with anger, exasperation, frustration, compliance, or criticism. When your intention is to be loving to yourself and to them, you will find loving ways of limiting their unacceptable behavior. Asking yourself, “What is the loving action toward myself and my children in this moment?” will bring ideas into your mind of healthy ways of handling difficult behavior. We want to limit unacceptable behavior without limiting the aliveness and joy of our children.

If your intention is to have control over your child while he or she is having a tantrum, your own energy will be harsh, angry, and judgmental.

You might yell at your children to stop, or you might walk away in anger and frustration. In either case, you are not being a role-model for the behavior you want. However, if you hold in your heart the wonder and peacefulness of your children’s souls, you might pick up your child and hold him or her, helping them regulate their feelings by regulating yours until they stop their unacceptable behavior, and letting them know that you love them and that it is OK for them to have and release their feelings.

Your intention to be loving or controlling not only determines how you end up feeling but educates your child as well. Your controlling behavior teaches your child to keep finding new ways to control, while behavior that is loving to yourself and your child teaches your child about loving himself or herself and loving you. Staying connected with your own love, empathy, compassion, and peacefulness helps you to stay connected with the love and peacefulness of your child’s soul and becomes a mirror to help your child know who he or she really is – a wonderful, beautiful, loving, empathic, compassionate, and peaceful child of God.

Your consistent Inner Bonding practice can help you to remember to choose the intent to be loving to yourself and your children, even in the face of challenges.

One of the challenges in having children is to find time for yourself, and if you are in a relationship, time with your partner.

A reader emailed me the following question: 

“Many dads and moms, especially those that work full-time, are torn by guilt when it comes to time allocation. They have been away from the kids so long during the working week that the weekends MUST be spent with them. Result: There is simply NO couple time or time alone. Any suggestions?” 

One thing that is often not realized by parents is that a happy and harmonious relationship is one of the greatest gifts they can give to their children. Most children will gladly spend less time with their parents when they know that some of the time being spent away from them is about creating and maintaining a loving relationship between their parents.

Parents who work full time do need to be sure to spend some quality time with their children each day. I was in this position when I was raising my three children. My husband and I would each spend an hour each evening, sometimes with one child and sometimes with two. On the weekends, we set aside some time alone with each other and time alone with ourselves, which our children learned to respect. Then we spent the rest of the time together as a family. Since you are the role models for their children, and if you are not taking responsibility for your own needs, your children will not learn to take responsibility for their own needs, nor will they learn to respect your needs. What you role model regarding personal responsibility for your own happiness and wellbeing is as important as spending time with your children. Both are equally important in raising healthy children. 

If you don’t find the time to be with each other or to be alone with yourself, you may need to examine what else might be going on within yourself and in the relationship.

Are you using your work and your children to avoid yourself and each other? If your time alone or together is not fulfilling, then work time and kid time can be ways of filling an inner emptiness. Or problems regarding time might be a result of unexamined priorities.

We all tend to do what is truly important to us. If work is important to you, then you may work a lot. If parenting is important to you, then you might spend lots of time with your children. If your creative pursuits, hobbies, or sports are important to you, then you will find time for them. If your emotional and spiritual growth is important to you, you will find the time to practice Inner Bonding. The same is true for your relationship. If it is very important to you, you will find the time for it. So, if you are not finding the time to be together, there may be subconscious reasons why. You might need to explore your inner priorities to learn about why time together is not happening.  

If not spending time together, as well as not having time alone, is truly about time, rather than avoidance, then you need to consider how you can get help. When my children were young and we didn’t have much money, we hired a neighborhood teenager to do some chores or spend some time with our young children. Our kids loved them and this gave us the much needed time alone and time together.

When you let love be your guiding light, you have a very good chance of raising loving and responsible children. But it’s also important to remember that your children are on their own soul’s journey, and that ultimately, you don’t have control over the kind of people they choose to be. All you can do is the very best you can.

If you enjoyed this podcast, I would really appreciate it if you tell your friends about it, and if you give it a review wherever you heard it.

And I invite you join me for my bi-monthly masterclass and receive my live help, which you can learn about at

And I invite you to join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships. This course will greatly help you with parenting.”

And you can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books and from our website at

If you want to do individual work with me or with one of our many trained Inner Bonding facilitators, please go and look under Facilitators -> Find a Facilitator, or call my office, the number is on the website.

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

©Dr. Margaret Paul and Inner Bonding® Educational Technologies, Inc, 2024

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