That voice in your head – or – How to mother a child on the edge of a cliff


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Imagine a mother and a child standing on top of a cliff. To make that image a little easier to see, have a look at this place, which is a famous Norwegian cliff called Prekestolen (Preacher’s Pulpit).

There are three distinctly different ways the mother can relate to the child who is running about and exploring the amazing place and all the dangers it represents.

1. The mother can be ignorant of the dangers, the child running around and her own power to take care of the child. She might be lost in her own problems, the danger might overpower her so much that she can’t relate to it, or she might be just forgivably unaware or unable to realise what is going to happen. Suddenly, the child is standing on the edge, wondering, curious, dead.

2. The mother can realise the danger, but she doesn’t face the potential consequences. She will tell the child to “stay away from the edge!”, “stay close to me!” or “stand still when I tell you so!” She is in a position of control, she has the power, and she is not afraid to use it. She might not understand it, but the tone in her voice implicates that the child has to obey, not because the mother is afraid the child might die, but because the mother needs to be in control – and she will not, can not, fail as a mother.

3. The mother can keep a watchful eye on the child while still enjoying the scenery. She might tell the child to be careful – “because I love you”. She trusts the child, but her love overpowers the fear, and she might spend the entire time holding the child’s hand, protecting it from the danger, without clinging.

There are numerous other ways to mother a child on a cliff, healthy and unhealthy ways.

The question, however, is

How Do You Parent Yourself?

There are potential dangers all around you. You might fail, get hurt, fall ill or die. (Sorry, if I’m the one who breaks you out of this illusion.)

And there are challenges, obligations, fears, mistakes and seemingly impossible dilemmas.

Not to mention goals, dreams, achievements, life peaks and wonderful possibilities.

And no matter the situation, where you’re going to or where you’ve been – you are always spending time with yourself.

So, are you the ignorant type of mother to yourself? The one who goes with the flow, end up hurt over and over, who is unable to deal with the horror, reality, raw vulnerability of life?

Or are you the controllable kind of voice in your head, telling yourself to do this and do that – and for the love of God – don’t make a fool of yourself?

A lucky few of us take the role of the loving mother, the one who stands by us no matter what, who lovingly accept and support and guide. Is that you?

As I said, there are a lot of different ways to approach parenting, and maybe there are different ways for different situations. But in order to figure out the best way of relating to yourself, you need to inquire.

Who are you, that voice in my head who never leave my side? What are your intentions, your motive, your way? What are your fears, and are you capable of compassion? Can it be that your controlling fear is love, after all?



{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline September 17, 2011 at 12:59 am

a perfectly timed post this is… i just wrote you an email about how i am doing very well… few days afterwards, something unexpected happens and i am very much confronted with the fact that i am the control kind of parenting person (-: more and more i am learning to love, trust and let go… but my first response usually is to control, to protect myself from harm, which usually ends up in me hurting me, because i want to control, protect myself from fear… but it turns out, the thing that hurts me most, is the fear of hurting… so a good reminder this is… thank you! have a nice weekend! love caroline


Milica January 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm

I love this post. I love the meaning and the powerfulness it has. But dont you think we are a little of everything? It depends what and when. And of course our goal is to achieve this love, understanding and support with our selves.

Good luck and enjoy!


Marthe January 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thank you!

You have a really good point, I think we all are a little bit of everything maybe all the time, but especially in different situations.


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