Get free parenting tips for raising confident, capable kids.

Click the button below to subscribe to my newsletter!


Showing Up for Yourself: The Messy Middle

Image Credit: Unsplash, Giulia Bertelli

When you feel as if you’re failing and you want to give up, you may just be in the messy middle, and in that moment, showing up for yourself is vital because this is where the *magic* happens.

You know those moments when your child or teen says something angry or judgmental to you, and everything you’ve learned about connected parenting flies out of your head as your feelings spiral out of control?

Maybe you feel anger or hurt at first, or after that eases–maybe indignant, hopeless or despairing. Or maybe it triggers some old feelings of being rejected, unloved, or not-approved-of.

I’ve felt these feelings occasionally when my son was younger, but *especially* during the teen years. 😩

When this happened to me a while back, all the triggered feelings from my old trauma showed up. I felt like a total failure as a parent. For a short bit, I felt like giving up.

But this isn’t failure, nor is it time to give up. 

This is the messy middle.

And it happens to everyone, but sometimes the *middle is messier* for parents of sensitive kids who had authoritarian parents or early childhood trauma, and who are trying to raise their child differently–more gently.

The messy middle is where parents often get stuck or give up.

You feel defeated and hopeless, so it’s tempting to abandon yourself.

But if you want to change patterns in your family, these are the moments in which it’s critical to show up for yourself.

That’s where the *magic* can happen.

For me, showing up for myself always involves doing a somatic exercise that helps me calm your nervous system or process your feelings.  I may also journal about my feelings and I often get support from a friend (or a professional, if needed).

However, staying present with the feelings in my body and calming my nervous system is key.

When we show up for ourselves like this, we’re reconnecting with ourselves and we can start to build our capacity to tolerate uncomfortable feelings. We can help our nervous system learn that even though those feelings from past trauma are still showing up, *we are safe right now in this moment*. 

Building our capacity over time improves our ability to be less reactive to our kids. We level up our ability to stay grounded and calm in the face of whatever intense emotions they may dish out.

Can you relate? What supports to you use to help move yourself forward from the messy middle?