Let Your Kids Embrace Their ‘Dark Side’

October 16, 2015

As a parent, and as a person I typically tend to do things differently – separate from the ‘norm’ and what would be considered ‘Rocking The Boat’ in many circumstances.

Hence the title of this blog – taddaa! I’ve learned that this ‘going against the grain’ aspect of my personality and my ‘need’ as I navigate this world is a way of exploring my Dark Side, giving it some breathing room, and ultimately finding my own truth. This truth may or not be in alignment with what the rest of the world is doing. My dark side says ” So what? – normal is boring, and normal is scary” – And I agree.

In a world where normal is a status quo, sheep mentality I am more deathly afraid of being said ‘normal’ than I  am of being different. This wasn’t always the case. In my younger years I was repeatedly taught that normal is GOOD, normal is BETTER, normal is…um…normal. I was taught that anything outside of this very limited range would be BAD, would be punished, ridiculed and taunted. And this behaviour was not from the kids in the schoolyard, this behaviour was coming from MOST of the adults around me. If you strayed outside of the normal in anyway, they would call you out in some pretty demeaning and shameful ways at times. Any healthy kid ( I won’t say normal) will figure this out and realize that being different, creative, outside of the box and rebellious – although fun – is dangerous – very dangerous. No kid wants to be singled out from the herd, made fun of, shamed, put in a corner.

So – we conform. This conformity is what I have learned later in my life, was my personal death sentence. The conformity that I was deterred and bullied into shrank my individuality, squashed my creativity, destroyed my sense of self, and annihilated my intuition and inner intelligence.

And let me tell you, I had some wicked inner intelligence and creativity just waiting to burst forth and freak people out.

But – burst forth it did not – it burst inward. And as a result, through my childhood and early adulthood it ravaged away at my insides and created a whole host of personal demons that took all my happiness away. Depression, Anxiety, Co-dependency, Panic Attacks, Addiction, Separation Anxiety, Abandonment Issues, Self Abuse and eventually an invitation to many abusive relationships because THAT is what appeared ‘normal’ to me at the time.

What I learned from this eventually is that our ‘dark self’ or ‘shadow side’ is really not that ominous. In fact, it is a creative, innovative, original, confident and crafty part of our innate selves that allows us to think for ourselves, create for ourselves and engineer a life for ourselves. ooooh SCAARY! Well, yes. To a world that exists by controlling with fear  – self expression and self confidence are a very real threat to the dogma all around us. However, I digress. This ‘disorder’ that exists can be dealt with, quietly and without violence. How?

Teach your children how to play on the dark side.

Children quite naturally explore and dabble in the dark side when they are young. Daydreams, role playing, stories, imaginary friends and a whole bunch of other strange activities that we as adults tend to be frightened by, but are part of a regular day in existence for these kids. Pretty early on, these explorations and behavior are ‘removed’ or ‘dissallowed’ in us. Imaginary friends are problems, daydreaming and drifting off are seen as learning disorders, outbursts of energy and darker emotions are seen as ADHD or worse. We just aren’t comfortable with the dark side of life.

As a parent – bringing a child into this world at a fairly young age myself – I was still young enough to have a memory of what being a kid was like, and how I had felt like a stranger in this world and never quite understood or welcomed anywhere. I was just too darn ‘weird’. My instinct to protect my young was alive and well, and very early on I decided that I would NOT follow the sheep mentality and that I would parent my kids in a way that felt intuitively right. And, as you guessed it – it rocked the boat, rocked it pretty bad at times.

I let my kids climb on things, play in dirt, fall down, sleep on the floor because they were afraid to be separated from the noises of the family far away in their bedrooms. I had one child ( my second) who I initially thought was the demon spawn herself, even with this deeper understanding. This child is the one who taught me the final lesson in intuitive parenting. She fought everything, vehemently. And when I finally realized that she was a mirror to me and my idiotic ‘ways’ that I had just ‘because’ with no reason, heart or intuitive intelligence – her tantrums, 6 hour screaming spells and obstinate behaviour stopped. Admittedly, it took me about 8 years to figure that out. She was the one who made me realize that allowing the dark side to exist, and function side by side with the lighter more ‘acceptable’ side was a healthy balance – and in fact for her, a mandatory one.

It was this child who I have learned the most from. I have watched and observed her explore some pretty scary things, and as she approaches teenhood it’s been difficult to maintain this stance – but my observation has paid off. Allowing her to explore dark places, swear, talk about sex, talk about abuse, talk about nasty things and openly expose her to whatever she is curious about, has created a highly mature, adaptable and very healthy and happy kid.

I know, it goes against everything we are taught. My kids will be the first to tell you that having that freedom to explore darker things within them and around them in the world gave them the freedom to talk to me about them and gain a healthy understanding and eventually distance from them. You see, the whole point of this is:

If you deny your child the freedom to explore their dark side, that dark side will eventually bubble up and take over and all hell will break loose. 

For both inner and outer balance, we have a fundamental need to express (however indirectly) our whole being. And we hardly need deny our “forbidden” thoughts. For they’re only a relatively small segment of what’s—naturally—inside us. Fully accepting our basic humanity actually necessitates that we acknowledge, and make peace with, our so-called “dark side”—which, finally, is far less dark when we see it for what it is. Carl Jung

If you’re a single parent and an entrepreneur you’re already rocking that boat pretty wildly – Keep up the rhythm and teach your kids how to dance to the beat of non conformity and individuality and rock their own little boats.  You will end up with very self actualized, confident, strong, awake and aware kids. And might I add, that I have had ZERO problems with drugs, alcohol, sex, abuse or other teenage issues with either of my children. The dark side just isn’t in the driver’s seat with them because they had the opportunity to explore it, see it for what it really was and then get the fuck on with their lives.

shadow-self


 

I want to hear your stories! Are you a rocking parent, juggling career, parenthood and life? Do you have ways of doing things that Rock the Boat? Share with me! Leave a comment below, or contact me personally. 

 

 

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2 Comments
    1. As I was reading I kept thinking about Jung and wondering if I would say something, and then there was your first quote followed by the illustration. The dark side, the shadow, any side, ALL parts of us need to be befriended and loved. This is so true. And it’s obviously working for your children. Thanks for your open, vulnerable and honest sharing of your experiences. I don’t know of a time when I wasn’t eccentric though I had to tone it down until I learned that it was actually one of my gifts. So I love that you got to embrace who you are too.

      1. Thank you for the wonderful comment Miriam! I totally understand where you are coming from – I’m just NOW learning that it is one of my gifts, before I just followed my instinct and also secretly thought I was a terrible parent at times – but as they say ‘The proof is in the pudding’ – my kids are so balanced and self confident – I NEVER felt that way at their age.

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