Parent Case Study
Worried and anxious parent was finding it hard to be present and connected with her kids. Together we dived deeper into what was holding her back.
Initial Enquiry: Stay at home mum of 2 young children struggling to feel connected and present
1. Where were you in your parenting before you worked with Fiona (What were your biggest struggles?)
I was worried and anxious all the time and felt like I wasn’t present. I had read a lot of parenting books/ done a Positive Parenting course but I was stuck in a mode of intellectualising things, I had lots of tools, the household was running fairly smoothly but I really wanted to feel more genuine and authentic i felt floaty/ flighty and drawn to numbing out on my phone. Whilst from the outside my own upbringing looked very good I don’t feel I have genuine authentic connections to my parents. My parents don’t accept me for who I am just for the good choices I have made. My childhood was all about how things looked: presenting well/ academic success
2. What made you realise you needed some additional support in your parenting?
I always found things hard with my first child. I felt like I was being stabbed when he cried and when he got angry I felt a hot rage inside me he reminds me a bit of me and so I projected a lot of my fears onto him, that he would suffer with anxiety as I have suffered.
I think the thing that really pushed me to see Fiona was when my child’s school Covid-19 bubble burst for the second time in the first week of December 2020. I woke up, my son got dressed in his school uniform and was having breakfast. I looked at my phone to find that his year group was shut and that he had to isolate again due to his teacher having Covid-19 (after only being back at school 1 week since the previous closure). My kids were objectively fine and whilst there was some anxiety (and more to follow as his school didn’t open again until March 8th 2021) they were generally quite happy… the issue was me I felt so fully confronted by the prospect of yet again more time alone with my children that my body basically said no. I had to parent horizontally for two days and had horrible IBS and back pain for months. I felt like I’d made big gains in my parenting but the issue was me. I realised I felt horrendous just being alone with my kids. This pandemic has made me realise how I used “being busy” as a way to avoid being present when there was no business to be had I was fully and truly confronted with myself. I read Dr Shefali’s The Conscious Parent and then knew that I needed to find a conscious parenting coach.
3. How did you initially find the 10 week process?
I’m not going to lie, some of the things in the course were at first a little out there for me… I’d heard of inner child meditation but its not something I would have ever thought to do. I see now how I have used cynicism as a protection tool to try and keep me safe but it wasn’t helping me at all it was perpetuating an addiction to feeling anxious- cortisol/ adrenaline and dopamine. The more open I become to new things the more I understand about myself.
4. What was Fiona like as your coach?
I thought Fiona was fantastic. I have been to 5 different Psychotherapists for a cumulative 4 years and was underwhelmed by all of them. I made such little progress. Seeing Fiona I made revelation after revelation I think part of this is I think it the first session she said something like “talking too much can be a trauma response to not being listened to” and that made a huge amount of sense to me. I went to all these therapists they just listed to me as if every problem can be solved just by the mind but really the issue I have come to realise is that just talking doesn’t work in itself. Fiona would stop me and ask me to ground myself in my body. I have come to realise the big work I now need to do is work on my body which has held on to so much stress/ negative patterns. I have lived in my mind for so much of my life I hardly realised I had a body and a soul. I also appreciated how she listened very well and didn’t make assumptions but often asked just the right question at just the right time. I also really got the sense that she believed in conscious parenting. The other thing that helped so much was her extensive reading list and book suggestions the more i read the more links and revelations I made.
5. What do you feel was your biggest breakthrough?
It’s hard to say because there were so many. My whole life I have felt like a bad detective and I think I have solved many of the mysteries. I came to the realisation after the reading Fiona sent me in the first week that my mother likely has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and it’s like my whole world suddenly shifted into place the more I read about Narcissitic Personality Disorder and the more I looked into my own family history the more everything made sense.
Coming to the realisation I likely have ADD (ADHD Inattentive) which explains so much of my past and so amny for the limiting beliefs I have and have had.
Coming to the realisation that I had/ am overcoming an addiction to being wired/ feelings of dread – Cortisol/ Dopamine/ Adrenaline
Coming to the realisation I have a soul/ true self… this has been quite remarkable. For the first time in my life I’m not just bouncing around in my mind. I can now draw upon a reassuring inner voice.
Coming to the realisation that anxiety was actually trying to help me/ keep me safe.
Coming to the realisation my emotional literacy was limited to sad/ happy/ angry
Coming to the realisation that I had a traumatic childhood, not traumatic in terms of violence but a drip drip drip trauma of not being seen/ heard for my authentic self/ not being listened to and having my reality distorted by a Narcissitic parent who was much more concerned with keeping up appearances than helping me spiritually and emotionally flourish.
6. How would you describe yourself as a parent now? (What were the biggest changes made)
I am parenting with much less concern for what my parents/ anyone else thinks. Which looks like this:
“If you are sad/ angry it’s Ok to cry/ stomp/ etc. to left the sadness/ anger out of your body”
I’m being more conscious about my anger and being less reactive, I am taking a moment to think about the belief that is attached to my anger which for me is often “I can’t do practical/ domestic/ organisational tasks well”
7. Would you recommend the 10 week process to friends and family?
8. What would you say to someone sat on the fence about going through this process?
It’s probably the best thing I have ever done its opened up everything for me. I feel like a different person now.
I see the more I continue down this path of conscious parenting and working on being more authenitc in myself the more likely I am to have genuine connection with my boys into their adulthood.
I was a secondary school teacher for 10 years… parents evening…90% of the families I saw were eye rolling kids and exasperated parents or anxious kids with parents who failed to really see or listen to their child. 10% of the families I saw had a genuine respect for each other….. I want to be in that 10% and I hope by the time my kids are 15/16 that 10% will be a much larger percentage as more parents become more aware/ conscious.
9. What does your family look like now, after the process?
I think it looks more flexible less brittle if things arent going to plan I am more open to just sacking off the plan for the wellbeing of the family whereas before i would have gritted my teeth and ploughed forwards regardless of the toll it took upon me or my kids.
I think I have changed the most which I think has implications for everything.
I think it looks like a place where everyone’s needs are aknowledged and I appreciate that the kids true nature is love and that often what they have if they are misbehaving/ angry is an unmet need.
What we worked on: When this parent came to work with me it was apparent she had done a lot of inner work previously. She has read lots of books and intellectually understood a lot of what was happening for her but needed some 1-1 support to be seen and heard.
This client was still impacted by her childhood and the fact that she didn’t have the close, connected relationship she wanted with her own parents. We spent several sessions exploring her own limiting beliefs and how these were getting in the way of the relationship with her sons. Over time, this parent learnt to understand her coping mechanisms and how they were stopping her from being present. We gently worked on new ways of adapting to her environment where she could be mindful and focus on meeting her needs. This parent was so committed to the process, showing up each week, diving into the weekly assignments and reading new material. This parents main focus now is to experience more JOY – being more social, singing, dancing and spending more connected time with her partner and kids!
“I’m some what amazed. I did cumulatively 4 years of therapy and made very little progress. I feel I made revelation after revelation and made huge progress in such a short amount of time.”