I realized that part of what I experienced in writing yesterday's blog post was a "touch" of shame. I mean, I'm talking about helping parents "be with" their children in attuned, emotionally responsive ways - you know, with 'empathy' - and I failed!
That goes beyond, "I did something wrong" (guilt) to, "What is wrong with me?" (shame). There I go again, going down the proverbial rabbit hole!
So, what's a parent to do when they experience that big bugaboo "shame"?
Well, for starters, recognize that you're only human and you'll make mistakes. So, here goes: "I'm only human! I made a mistake." That means there's nothing wrong with me - of you!
And then work on figuring out what to do about it.
After writing yesterday's post, I talked with my daughter about my understanding of what had happened as we left the bus stop. She had seen the couple but hadn't thought anything of it as she had assumed that some of the other people waiting for the bus were with them and they seemed, in her estimation, confident....but, I guess I have been doing something right because she then expressed understanding ('empathy'!) for my part in our conflict given that I was distressed by my thoughts and worries for this couple. Her empathy was really what shifted me from "shame" to "guilt", so here's the tough part: Typically, your child will not be able to offer you empathy, so you will need to make sure you have a community of adults you can truly trust, with whom you can share your feelings about your struggles (yes, even your shame). And be part of someone else's trusted support system - you get as much from offering genuine empathy for others as you get from receiving it. Consider this your "parenting with empathy practice group"!
Who offers you the empathy you need combat your shame?