It Will Get Easier – The Intense Struggles of a Parent with Childhood Trauma

A courageous Unruffled listener shares how Janet’s respectful parenting approach seemed an impossible goal during a dark period of self-discovery, but it also presented a beacon of hope. As she struggled to come to grips with recovered memories of her childhood abuse, her relationship with her two young children was combative and destructive. She was left feeling like a complete failure, unable to parent in the loving, respectful way she had always imagined. Her journey to the other side of this despair is a story of strength and perseverance. Ultimately, her message to other parents is: “The happiness is worth it. The joy is worth it. The connection with your kids is worth it. It’s all worth it.”

Transcript of “It Will Get Easier – The Intense Struggles of a Parent with Childhood Trauma”

Hi, this is Janet Lansbury, welcome to Unruffled. Today I have a very special guest, her name is Alwynn. She reached out to me in an email with the subject line, “Not yet a success.” Of course, I always love to read success stories that people share with me and it was interesting that she said “not yet,” so I was intrigued. I read her story of how her repressed childhood memories came to the surface, sent her into what she calls “a survival mode, merely existing as a mother,” and the memories that resurfaced for her were overwhelming and made it feel impossible to be the kind of parent she wanted to be for her children. Her message is one of survival and hope and I think will be a gift for any parent listening.

Hello, Alwynn. Good morning. It’s the evening for me, morning for you over there in Australia.

Alwynn:  Yeah.

Janet:  I just want to say straight out that you are my favorite kind of hero. You reached out to me with your subject line, “Not yet a success,” which I love in itself for so many reasons, that you know you’re in a process, and your goal is this beautiful thing… I’m just going to read it from your note here. Your goal is that you want to “spread awareness that it’s okay to not have it all together,” that others are not a failure if they feel that way. You said, “I want your listeners to know that no matter what it is that they are failing at as mothers, no matter what it is they’re doing wrong, there is so much they’re doing right.”

So anyway, this message that you’re so brave to be here and share with us is: you want to give hope. I’m just in awe of you, so I just have to say that starting out.

Alwynn:  Thank you, thank you so much. And I’m definitely quite emotional, even as I talk, because being willing to be seen is probably the biggest obstacle that I’ve had to overcome. I started out… I wanted to be a mother my whole entire life, and I guess I imagined it would be hard, but I just never imagined it to be as hard as it has been. I started out my journey and I became a mom, and I was really, really blessed to find a group called the Conscious Mothers. I didn’t have any idea about conscious mothering or respectful parenting. I was starting to really, really struggle with my toddler, and he was 16 months at the time, and I was really, really struggling with his behaviors.

I remember saying to someone, “I’m just angry all the time, and I’m just so tired of being angry, and he doesn’t deserve it.” And I remember people saying to me it was normal, that it’s okay to be angry, kids make you angry. And I think it upset me that that was normal, it upset me that everyone was saying that it was okay for me to be angry all the time, but I didn’t feel like it was okay, I didn’t feel like this was the way it was meant to be.

I had this vision of motherhood, and what it was turning out to be was not what I expected. And gratefully I had been a part of this group and explained the issues that I was having with my toddler. I was getting so uncomfortable with his emotions that I was considering self-harming, I hit myself over the head with a plate just so I wouldn’t hurt him, and I thought there must be another way, and that’s when they forwarded me onto your work.

I’ll be truly honest, when I started listening to your work, I think like many other moms and many other parents, all I felt was complete lack. I just felt I must be such a useless mom because where Janet is talking about as a parent feels like a million miles away from where I am.

But I wanted things to be different, and so I really tried to start implementing your techniques, and I really noticed that there was a difference. Yes, it seems so far from what I’d been taught, as in suppress children’s emotions and not see them as individuals. It got to a point where your techniques, the way that you were teaching parenting, I was failing at it, I was really, really feeling like I just couldn’t get it right. Why was I so angry? I know that my toddler and my children have these big emotions, but why do I feel so helpless? And why do I feel so hopeless all the time? I must be a failure, there must be something wrong with me.

Janet:  I’m so glad you’re being honest about this, and I’ve heard that before and it makes sense to me, your perspective on what I’m doing at first. What were some of the things that you were trying that you just felt you couldn’t do? Are there any specifics that you remember?

Alwyn:  Well, what I realized, I guess, is with respectful parenting it’s about giving them choice and it’s about being able to see them in all their big emotion. If they’re exploring you can say, “Oh, I can’t let you do that, but I can let you do something else.” But I found myself getting really angry.

I’ve listened to so many of your podcasts and other parents, and it made me so comforted to know that where kids were constantly going into the pantry and pulling out the food. And I was like, I should be reacting with love and, “Wow, I see you really want to get the food, but I can’t let you do that.” But I was reacting with anger and an anger that was so uncharacteristic for me. I just couldn’t bridge the gap, it was like from zero to 100. So I knew all the things I was meant to be doing-

Janet:  Well, I mean, we’re not supposed to love that, just to be fair. We’re not supposed to love that our children are doing those things.

Alwyn:  Yeah, but even, I guess, the distance and the spatial awareness that I could see that what he was doing was not a direct reflection on me and my parenting and who I was as a person.

Janet:  It felt threatening.

Alwyn:  Everything felt threatening. And so essentially, I guess what it got to, really, for me was I was able to be quite a calm person until I had kids, and then when I had kids two years ago I had a lot of suppressed memories of abuse from my childhood come up, and that really set me into a spiral, as you can imagine. Years of memories that you didn’t have before all rushing to the forefront, and every pain that I had, I literally just sank into a deep, deep hole, and I had these two kids that were under three.

Janet:  Wow.

Alwyn:  They needed me, and my kids were the most incredible fighters because they wouldn’t let me suppress them. They wouldn’t allow me to just put them in a box and say, “Leave me to just sink into a hole.” They fought every day, and by that I mean they kept on pushing the boundaries.

If there were times where I didn’t want to get out of my bed, my four-year-old or my three-year-old would go up and break something so that I would be forced to get up and take care of him, so that I would be forced to step forward and be his mother. I had so much anger, I had so much sadness, and I was seeing these kids, and actually with my inner child… I speak quite a lot about inner child because essentially all of us parents have wounded inner children.

It doesn’t have to be great things like abuse, it doesn’t have to be great things that we’re conscious of, but no matter who it is, we all carry some sort of wound from childhood that isn’t healed, and we carry that little child within us that never got to grow past that point.

And so essentially what I got to was I had two little boys who were screaming to be seen and screaming for safety and screaming for love, and they were reflecting within me a little girl who was constantly wanting to be loved, who was constantly wanting to be seen. And so it got into this fight, my toddlers were fighting my inner child, and who gets preference, whose needs are more important.

Janet:  Yeah. What happened when the memories came up for you? Was it just during the day, or were you in a therapy session?

Alwynn:  No. So when I started my spiritual journey, I guess eight years ago when I started having reoccurring miscarriages, I was given the message at that point that I needed to heal some trauma and then my children will come in, they needed me to be the strong healer. That was from a psychic.

Janet:  But you didn’t know what that was that they were referring to?

Alwyn:  No, I didn’t know what that trauma was. And so a few years ago I started having more dreams, started having more things come up into my life where I was like, these things aren’t normal, these things aren’t…  And I’d become a health and life coach at this point and so I was very adept at exploring my inner world, exploring what was not working or what I was dealing with.

So I went to a lot of energy healers, because I’m very much about energy, and I went to see psychologists, and many different avenues, but really it just started to come up organically in my dreams, in little flashbacks. But I was able to push it down for quite a long time and ignore that it existed, because I didn’t want to believe it existed — until it got to a point where my sister and I just, yeah, we had to sit down, and we both really just said, “Okay, we have to acknowledge that this happened, because it’s literally chasing us.”

And once we were aware and ready to face it, those little wounded inner girls, those wounded children felt more safe to show us and give us more.

Essentially, I feel like as parents, and as individuals, we give all of this energy to the children outside of ourselves. But I believe firmly, after everything that I’ve been through, the first person that we need to start with is that little child within us. Because I wasn’t capable of truly opening myself up to love, truly opening myself up to the possibility of being that safe, unruffled parent that my kids needed. I didn’t have safety within me.

So the biggest and most difficult part of the healing journey was when I got to a point where my anger was really, really, really bad, and through that period I really thought that my kids would’ve been better off without me. Because I was okay with the pain that I was feeling, but the only thing that I wasn’t okay with was how my pain was affecting my children.

And what I really, really wanted to share, especially on this podcast episode, is that I didn’t have a choice or an option on how I reacted to my children. I knew and I still know how affecting that is for them and how affecting it was for them for me to be aggressive, because I was.

I had a little child in me who felt so unsafe and felt so unheard and unseen that my children triggered me constantly, they were mirrors for all of the deep pain and sadness I felt inside. And they just really wanted me to love myself as much as they loved me, but I couldn’t love me. So I got so angry about that and I was aggressive and I was lashing out at them.

And I was thinking one day, what would Janet Lansbury say to you right now? You’re disgusting, you are pretty much hurting your children, you are so far away from a conscious loving mother.

Janet:  Oh gosh, I would never have said that.

Alwyn:  No, your response was great, actually, your response to… In my head, I took a pause and I said: You know what? Janet Lansbury would say that you are doing everything that you can be doing, you are fighting every single minute of every single day and you are alive, and that’s all she would care about right now.

I just got to the point where I decided that no matter what happened, I was going to live, and I wouldn’t leave my kids without a mom, I wouldn’t take my life no matter how hard it got, and it got very hard. There were times where I considered signing myself into a mental health institute because I was concerned that I was going to hurt them. There was so much within me that was just wanting to be let go of and released.

As I continued on this journey, day by day I just kept on saying to myself: Alwyn, you know the parent you want to be, and you’ve seen that it’s possible. Through the little techniques that I’ve used from your work I knew who I wanted to become, and I believed that yes, I wasn’t that person. And I still am struggling at times, but I believed that I could get there, that I had that vision of the mom that I wanted to be, and I wanted to be a safe mom. I wanted to be safe for myself and for my kids, and I wanted to be unruffled, not as something I put on, but actually just because I felt strong enough to give my kids that space to feel everything that they wanted to or needed to feel.

And so although I was quite angry and aggressive and I really hated myself in those times, now as I have come out the other side of it I realize that it couldn’t have been any other way and that I can’t compare myself to these moms who don’t have that deep, deep anger, because this is my path, and this was my journey.

My kids are the most incredibly beautiful, resilient, strong kids. And I believe that that’s because of me, because they watched me fall to pieces, they watched me repair, and I did a lot of repairing throughout that time, but it’s all because of the work that you’ve done, and the awareness that I had that kept me fighting for their freedom and my own freedom, because I knew what was possible at the end of it.

Janet:  So you’d gotten some glimmers, being able to practice some of the ideas that I’ve shared, you saw that you could occasionally feel yourself doing this, and giving your children space to feel their feelings, or whatever it was.

Alwyn:  Yeah.

Janet:  But it sounds like you were still being steered by-

Alwyn:  Wounds.

Janet:  Yeah, and you weren’t in control of yourself until you healed that. I’m so glad that you did.

And one thing that really helped you is you found this self-compassion — it’s so key to be able to do any kind of healing, or really just to even become a better parent, to rise up out of whatever our natural reflexes might be as a parent, to know that it’s a process, and we’re never going to be perfect at it. That you gave yourself that permission is, I think, such an important part of this for you, and for everybody.

Alwyn:  You know… of course this journey has been extremely difficult, but I am so incredibly grateful for it, because I now get to experience my children and love my children in a way that I had never actually been able to do before I healed. I’d never been open to allowing someone into my heart because I was terrified they would break it. And that included my children. I could never actually connect with them on the level that they deserved and I deserved.

And in order to get to this point, I had to let a lot of my expectations of myself go. The TV, I was very strict on TV, no TV, no sugar, I wanted them eating organic. But all of that I feel was so secondary to the real needs that they weren’t having met having a mother who couldn’t love herself enough to love them. In order to get to that beautiful, strong unruffled, powerful woman, I had to let the expectations of myself go, and the expectations of, but if they watch TV it’s going to be a cycle, and I don’t want them watching TV, I’m a terrible mother.

And I recognize that, you know what, that’s something that I can work on once I’m better, that’s something that I can face later once I love myself and heal myself more.

Janet:  Yes. Before we love, we have to accept ourselves. Here I am in these pandemic times, this is what I’ve got, this is where I’m struggling, this is what I need to survive this, my children watching TV or having lots of sweets, or whatever it is, that acceptance of just being in the process.

For a long time, I felt like I had to be the perfect one or I was nothing, and that there was no in-between. I mean, it was such a bind that I put self in, and a setup for failure, because you’re not going to be perfect, and I think a lot of us feel that way.

Just to say: hey, this is where I am right now, and I’m going to take care of me first because I’ve got to accept me first, and I’m going to do that for my children. So if I feel at all that it’s selfish, it’s absolutely not. It’s not selfish, that’s for my children. That’s the step, as you so clearly discovered, that’s the step to being the kind of parent I want to be with my children, loving them in the way that I want to. I’ve got to accept myself.

Alwyn:  You know, we are constantly judging ourselves and judging anyone else around us as mothers. It’s always looking for who’s doing it right and who’s doing it wrong.

A year ago the mother I would’ve been was the mother that you would’ve looked at and said, oh gosh, she’s doing it all wrong, she’s shouting at her kids, she’s angry, she’s manipulating, she’s X, Y, or Z.

But what I want us to all see is anyone that is acting like that with their children essentially is just wounded, they’re only hurt. No one wants to treat their kids other than loving and beautiful and respectful the way that they deserve, but in order to do that, we need to also, as I said, get to that point of loving ourselves.

But in those times, even as I was that parent who was angry and just not living up to any expectation that I had of myself, I was able to hold onto that one goal, that viewpoint in the future that I’ll just keep on taking one step forward, I’ll just keep on fighting and I’ll get there eventually.

And I want your listeners to know that no matter what it is that they’re experiencing right now, no matter what it is that they’re dealing with, whether it’s internal or external, whether it’s their kids or their partners, or whatever it is, to hold on to that slither of: I know I can do this. Because we can do this. We are empowered. We are way more powerful than we could ever imagine, women and men alike.

I want everyone to realize that if they can just take a step back and see that maybe it’s a need that’s just not being met within in themselves, maybe it’s a bit of sadness or a bit of grief that they hadn’t processed, maybe their child is just reflecting a part of them that’s wanting so badly to be seen.

I feel like we, as a whole collective, all deserve better, and if we keep separating ourselves — the good parents from the bad parents — we’re never going to get to where we need to get to. We need to all find the compassion, find the love, and normalize healing ourselves first, in order to change the generations, change the future, and become this loving, safe, beautiful space that we and our children deserve. And never mind any of that, to actually experience the depths of love that are available to us when we let go of the pain. Because it’s only now that I’m getting to experience that.

Janet:  What you’re saying there is so important, there are no bad parents, there are parents that are, like you said, wounded, they’re hurting, they’re struggling, they’re healing, they’re going through something, and they’re not bad, they’re in a process. So that same grace that we give to our children that I always talk about is the same perspective we have to take on ourselves first.

Alwyn:  Yeah.

Janet:  I was told that there are a lot of people that don’t have children that listen to my podcast, even younger people, because they are hearing a version of being raised that maybe they didn’t have that they could hear and relate to in terms of the healing that could happen to them, the way they could be perceived.

Alwyn:  That is just amazing that you just actually brought that up because that was my next point.

One of the things that I recognize in my own healing was that desire to be held and loved and mothered in a way that feels so safe and secure and loving, but it was such a difficult thing to imagine or feel when you haven’t experienced it.

I found, even just when I got on the phone call with you, I could feel the loving mother, the loving energy, and it brought me to tears even just as we began. Because to be in the presence of someone that can fully see you, even that child self within you, is just beyond beautiful, and to see, like you’re seeing, that opportunity to be raised and re-raised, because we can do that. We can re-parent or ourselves, or imagine Janet Lansbury as my mom. I’ve actually imagined you as my mom, by the way. What would she say to me right now? How would she want me to show up for myself? And even just feeling that embrace and that hug.

Because we as parents, we take on the world. We have so much responsibility, and sometimes just want to be taken care of, the way the little child within us really wanted to be taken care of. I believe so strongly now that our kids when they’re acting out, when they’re doing things that really, really trigger us, I believe that they’re reflecting the part of us that really is needing love.

I remember saying to you in the email that I  was really terrified. I was terrified that I was never going to love my child. I was terrified that I just hated him because I just felt so triggered by all of his behaviors and his actions, and I was afraid that no one would ever love him, and I was terrified of even admitting that.

And then I realized it’s not my little three-year-old that I hate, it’s not my little three-year-old that I think is not going to be loved. It’s me. I’m terrified that I am never going to be loved. I am terrified that I will never be seen. And he is ultimately just reflecting back all of that to me, so that he can say: here mom, please heal it so that you can love yourself exactly the way that I love you.

And as you’re saying, through that inner parenting process, even by listening to your podcast, it’s a great opportunity to reparent ourselves, because that is where it starts.

Janet:  Yeah, well you said in that note, you said you would’ve just continued to blame your son, painting it with some brush, “difficult,” maybe ADHD, et cetera. But because of my work, you were able to look past that and know that “he was not anything but a struggling little boy looking for a safe space, love, and acceptance,” and from there you found yourself.

Alwyn:  Yeah, and that is ultimately it. I could have projected everything that I was feeling onto a label that I wanted him to be painted with. And it’s not wanted. But what I recognize most in this healing journey was that a lot of the times when I’m experiencing things outside of me, with my kids or even with my husband, with the people at work, whatever it may be, a lot of the time it’s a reflection of what I need to see within myself, or what I need to heal within myself. Sometimes we pass that blame onto other people around us. The kids are causing me to be stressed, my husband is causing me to be X, Y, or Z.

But ultimately it’s really an opportunity to go: okay, what is it that I’m feeling right now deep within me? What is it that I’m experiencing? Because my kid is just doing what they’re meant to do. They’re being a child, they’re not trying to punish me.

One of the things that definitely was big and strong for me was every action that my children took that you would maybe class as being naughty or “behavior,” what my inner child was saying was: you see, they don’t love us, they don’t love us, no one’s going to love us, they hate us. And so my reaction couldn’t be calm and unruffled, because the perception that I was having was: they’re doing this because they don’t love me, a very different perception to have than seeing them as wow, they’re really exploring.

Janet:  Yeah, and if you think about that objectively, well, why wouldn’t they love me? They love their parents more than anyone else in the world, almost no matter what. If we get a little distance on that, then actually they’re doing this because they love me so much.

Alwyn:  Definitely.

Janet:  I would love for you to share, because I think it could be helpful if you have thoughts about this, just some of the concrete steps that you took, things that you tried that really helped you as you’re going through this healing inside. And then what were some of the things you tried, even things that didn’t work. What kind of steps did you take when you were coming out of this with your children and shifting?

Alwyn:  So with regards to my own healing or with both?

Janet:  Well, both. But in terms of them, and being more the parent that you wanted to be. How did you turn the corner, taking what you’re learning about yourself, and then you shared the thing about getting the different perspective on your son, your spirited son, but were there any practices or steps that were helpful?

Alwyn:  I think that the biggest one was having the awareness. Having listened to your podcast, the awareness of what is really happening. Like, okay, he’s having big emotions, this isn’t about me. To be honest, in a lot of cases I actually couldn’t follow through with dealing with the situations adequately, in a safe and unruffled way. But also having that awareness was probably the biggest key. I was always able to repair, and that is never going to be as good as obviously just doing it right the first time, but I didn’t have that option.

Janet:  That’s right. No, no, no, I think this is perfect, this is exactly what I think is really helpful. So you started to get the perspective, but you would get it after the fact, almost, like you’d already yelled or done whatever it was, gotten sharp with them?

Alwyn:  When I would react, essentially I would go offline. My children would do something, I would be triggered, and it was as if I checked out. I didn’t have any control over my physical body. And essentially I would wake up afterward and I would be filled with so much grief and pain that I had just reacted and acted in such a terrifying way even to myself, never mind to a small little boy. But then straight away, obviously, I then would get down and be very upfront, I would say, “I’m really sorry. I’ve got a lot of pain inside my heart, and sometimes that makes me act in a way that I don’t want to act, but you don’t deserve that, and I’m really sorry.”

But the problem was, Janet, it was happening so often that the inconsistency of my parenting and my behaviors, nothing could repair the inconsistencies and everything that I was enduring. But what I guess I just kept on fighting for, as I said, was that inner healing.

So if I could say what was the most concrete thing that I would recommend for every single parent, there are definitely some resources I would most definitely share, but I have a coach, she is an inner child coach. What I loved about her was she would work with me on my inner child, but also factoring in my kids and their behavior and helping me to understand how my children’s behaviors were actually reflecting some of my own pain. And so she was helping me to interweave my parenting into my own trauma and my own feelings in order to have the awareness and the understanding and let it go so that I could be the confident mom that I wanted to be.

And so what I find so important is finding a practice or healing modality that works for you.

For me, as I said, I believe so, so strongly in inner child work, inner child healing, because I believe that’s where it starts, and also it links so much into our parenting because essentially we’re parenting a child within. It gives us the strength and awareness and ability to parent a child without.

And even if you’re 100 years of age, you still have a little child within you, and so I believe that one step is probably the biggest shift and change for me as a parent and how I parented the boys.

The awareness of your work was absolutely so important. Letting people know that you don’t have to get it all right, you don’t have to be the perfect parent in order to have the goal that, one day, you will get to that point where you feel like a confident parent. You can listen to podcasts from you and take what you can take for the moment and implement that as best as you can, but always come back to compassion, that deep sense of I’m doing the best that I can do, and if I leave the best that I can do on the table at the end of every day, then there is nothing else I could have given, and there is nothing else I have to do.

I know that my boys are very proud of me, and I know that they do not at all resent me, and I know they love me beyond belief because we’ve gone from a space where my kids wouldn’t even hug me, they were terrified of me, they would barely hug my leg. And now my toddler hugs me about 40 times a day and he says, “I love you to the moon and back,” I’d say about 50 times a day. He is just showing me in every moment, he just says to me without saying it: thanks for not giving up, thanks for fighting for us.

Janet:  Wow.

Alwyn:  That’s all he keeps saying.

Janet:  You’re the safe person they can share with now, completely.

Alwyn:  But I had to allow myself to go through that process.

So there are definitely some resources. Whenever you do the podcast and if you put it up on your Facebook, I would definitely love to share some resources beneath that podcast for anyone that’s looking to do this work. Or anyone that’s looking to just find happiness, because it’s n sometimes not even about the parenting. You might feel like your parenting’s going good or okay, but you might feel like your relationship with your husband isn’t the best, or you’re feeling lonely. All of this impacts us, all of it impacts our children, all of it impacts the collective, and so this work applies to absolutely everyone, not just parents, not just for our kids. Ultimately it’s for us so that we can have the happiness that we deserve.

And I believe wholeheartedly that in order to experience the biggest and greatest depth of joy and happiness that is possible in this world, you have to be willing and ready and able to experience the depth of sadness and pain that might be within you. But it’s worth it.

What I considered during that time was pretty dark and pretty deep, but believe me when I say the happiness is worth it, joy is worth it, connection with your kids is worth it. It’s all worth it, if you’re just brave enough to put yourself first and love you first, it’s all worth it, I promise.

Janet:  That’s so beautiful. Well, as one of your imaginary mothers, I’m very, very proud of you, and thank you so much for sharing with us today.

Alwyn:  You’re welcome.

Janet:  Just keep going, that’s all I can say. Keep going and keep shining your awesome light.

Alwyn:  Thank you.

Alwyn shares some afterthoughts to this conversation that I’ll be posting in the transcript on my website, and also some resources, including a contact email to connect with Alwyn for support. Those will be in the transcript and also in the show notes for this podcast.

Please check out some of the other podcasts on my website, There are many of them and they’re all indexed by subject and category so you should be able to find whatever topic you might be interested in.And both of my books are available in paperback at Amazon: No Bad Kids, Toddler Discipline Without Shame and Elevating Child Care, A Guide To Respectful Parenting.  You can get them in eBook at Amazon, Apple, Google Play, or, and on audio at Actually, you can get a free audio copy of either book at Audible by following the link in the liner notes of this podcast.

Thank you so much for listening and all your kind support. We can do this.

Alwynn’s afterthoughts and resources:

As I was reflecting throughout the day on our conversation a few things came up regarding what life looked like physically as I was and am healing with the kids. I wanted to just send it in case anything was of any use.

What I noted was to be an unruffled confident leader initially takes a lot of energy. Emotional, mental, and physical energy. Healing or living through any type of trauma takes all of someone’s resources and so what was left for my children was nothing but desperate cries “please just listen to me” “please don’t fight me on this” “please see I’m struggling and help me out” but you know yourself that children cannot hold that level of restraint and responsibility for their own emotions let alone their parents. They need us to be safe not the other way around. So my children would dump out the washing that took me a day to fold. They would spill the milk as I was using all of my energy to make the breakfast. They would hit out at me as I tried to force them into clothes because I just needed them dressed and I needed something to be easy. I would lash out at their big emotions, at their rejection “I don’t love you” because I couldn’t face or process my own emotions, my own lack of self-love and I resented my children even more. “Why can’t you love me” “why do you punish me” “why am I never good enough”. A vicious cycle of my children’s search for safety and stability vs my own. A clash of wills. A clash of needs. A clash of power Vs powerlessness

As parents through these difficult times a lot of our emotional, physical and mental resources are being spent holding too many balls up in the air and as we are doing that and neglecting our own needs there is little left to give to our children when they too are trying to navigate the murky waters of life. Dump on top of that: expectations of who we should be as parents and the guilt at not living up to them. Dump on top of that generational and personal wounding known and unknown and you have exactly what I described. A mother constantly shouting at her children to listen, to stop torturing her through constant resistance and persistent fights. And therein lies the biggest bottom line… We owe ourselves the compassion and space to find a way out of the dark, the exhaustion, the inner turmoil before we try correcting and trying to change our children’s “behaviours”. To try our best to let go of all of the things we have to do and only focus on the things we truly need to do.

Today, as I felt exhausted and drained following our call, my 4-year-old was “acting up” hitting his brother, throwing things. And again I found myself on the verge of tears as yet again I was reactive and very much the opposite of supportive and unruffled. I took a bath and asked myself… How do I do this? How can I help my beautiful boy, how can I support him the way he deserves and the answers that came were still the same…

By healing yourself first.

And so that’s it. I get up to face more unfelt, stuck emotions within me and hug my 4-year-old and pray that one day repairing won’t be such a frequent occurrence in my life, and I have compassion that I’m still fighting for that day.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

Contact Alwynn:

Alwynn has recently begun a Facebook community HERE and she welcomes you to join.

Alwynn recommends:

Inner child work & healing:

Marisa Peer

Some of the therapies she used in her healing:

– Craniosacral therapy
– Energy healers (there are a few different types eg reiki, intuitive, but I always say go with your gut)
– Somatic therapy practitioners (works with trauma stored in the body)
– Hypnotherapy
– Ice baths/ocean swimming
– Meditation

“I believe that when the student is ready the teacher will appear. And so if you are someone committed to and ready to heal… I believe the right healing practice and modalities will come to you. Then it is about immersing yourself and taking control of your own destiny, your own path, and your own healing. No one can do this work for us but believe me when I say you wouldn’t want anyone to because it is only through taking responsibility for one’s own happiness that we can really see the strength that lay within us all along.” – Alwynn

(Cover photo by Sania Ahsan)


Please share your comments and questions. I read them all and respond to as many as time will allow.

  1. Thank you both so much for this conversation. I am one of the people who follows these podcasts despite not having children; I didn’t know there were others! I find the advice helpful in thinking about how to treat yourself and your own big emotions, and for understanding how it became such a struggle for some of us. I’m not a success yet either, these wounds can be so persistent, but this gives me hope. The more these things can be talked about out in the open, the better. It’s great work you’re doing here.

    1. It’s lovely to meet you, JJ! Thank you for “outing” yourself 🙂

    2. It’s lovely to meet you, JJ! Thank you for “outing” yourself 🙂 and I’m thrilled that you find the podcast supportive. This podcast with Alwynn’s deeply generous sharing is my favorite of the past year. At least!

  2. I can’t tell you how much I related to this! Down to the thinking my son was ADHD or something or another instead of realizing I was projecting my anxiety onto him! I’ve recently been able to shift my perspective to see myself separate from my kids, and start the healing process from my abusive childhood. Thank you so much for this interview!!! Very very powerful.

    1. I’m so glad to hear this, Katie! Thank you for sharing your good news. You’ve got this!

    2. Alwynn Hynes says:

      It takes great courage Katie to hold that responsibility in motherhood. So much more comfortable to focus on our children but iv really found that nearly every single time it all came back to my nervous system, my trauma, my triggers. My son was simply my mirror.

      Just incase you wanted to join the group I created following this podcast here is the link ❤️ a safe space for moms healing through trauma while trying to parent xx

  3. Hello Janet, another childless person who has seen the wonders of self-directed play and all the trappings of treating children like people, good leadership etc over and over again working with young children – started reading your posts years ago and noticed your own progress with this whole bloggy format, too – this seems like an absolute cracker of a post to me, a real thing of beauty, it brought tears to my eyes for sure, and it’s the first time I’ve sent a Lansbury link to my sister. I hope you felt it too, that this story is a Real Multilayered Something . Thank you very very much, it helped me, in a flash, with similar issues of healing self enough to be able to have any sympathy for my father, even though I’m perfectly aware of plenty of difficulties he must have had. I’ve been chipping away at that one for years – for some reason, this post gave me an extra bit of – oo what’s the word? – it’s more a feeling really, of having made a sudden step of progress. Relief might be the word. Which is ‘Erleichterung’ in german, meaning to become lighter. Bla bla waffle waffle may this article reach a particularly large number of people. M

    PS also relate strongly to the anger problem, there was one case where I too felt the need to get down and make deep eye contact and make an apology fit for any grown-up, only to get horribly angry once again, some weeks later, followed by an even more serious apology, including the fact that I had said it wouldn’t happen again, yet it did.. Fortunately it was only those two times. The conscience is crushing, all-consuming. That was enough incentive for me, plus of course I wasn’t living with the child 24/7, so could regroup with plenty of time to think about how to do better. I knew very well how fortunate that was. My hat goes off to parents, when I imagine coming home from a day at work, or waking up from a restless night, to way more difficult behaviour than I was seeing.

  4. This IS my story. The anger, the rules, the attempts at controlling myself, the fear of myself. Yesterday I woke up at the bottom of the pit and I came close to going to a mental hospital. I am blessed to have support and I’m beginning the steps of finding the help I need.

    Thank you for sharing. It is comforting beyond all measure to know I am not alone.

    1. Alwynn Hynes says:

      Holly, I’m so grateful you were able to find this podcast and know you are not alone. It has been the most difficult Journey but also the most rewarding. If you want to join the group I created following this podcast here is the link ❤️ a safe space for moms healing through trauma while trying to parent xx

  5. Hi Janet,
    Thank you for sharing this! When my daughter was between 8mo. and on into toddlerhood, I read all your posts and listened to all your podcasts repeatedly. I read chapters from your books every night before falling asleep. I too found your words and approach so soothing, hopeful and healing. I would cry and reminisce. I read and listened to your work over and over again. In hindsight, I think I was trying to etch it into my brain so that it became my natural instinct. So I could override my irritations and anger that would seemingly come roaring out of nowhere. Early on, I found I would hold it together for my kid and then redirect my anger toward my husband. This was hard on us. We have done so much work together to dig into our (but mostly my) past and recognize triggers in our family. This is incredibly hard work but oh so rewarding- as Alwynn expresses. I agree with her that I am now so much more open to love with my family and others. I cannot imagine my relationship with my daughter (and even my husband) had I not discovered your work. I think years of therapy beforehand helped, but nothing like a young child to push you to face your biggest and deepest demons! Thanks so much for mothering us over the internet! Your empathy for children and parents is inspiring

  6. Izzy Budd says:

    Give such deep thanks to you Alwynn for this specific sharing, and you Janet, for transforming and reminding me over and over since, to come back to love
    I shared the podcast with my partner, my children’s father, last night after listening in the morning myself. He has huge anger (pain) and I feel me and the children live on a tight rope, egg shells…we love him, and I have a good understanding, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t really damaging. And lately, it has become time to draw a line, and give an altamatum. That has been that effort must be made to dive into, heal, explore the trauma. For his sake. And ours. That journey has begun with anti depressants, so soothe the patterns a little
    After listening with him to the podcast last night, and hearing Alwynns experience of transformation from total pain to so much more love, was really powerful. So it’s only day 1. But it feels that some awareness dropped into him last night.
    He had mad spiritua dreams, and our nearly ( year old boy got into bed with him in the night.
    On waking he said to his dad, me and Peter (his teddy rabbit) stayed up with you looking after you with the angels
    It has always felt just about ok enough for the children, as they have had me being continually open and present and reflective with them, but how amazing it would be if their dad could feel and share in the safety and love with our kids, rather than being continually triggered. My partner would say openly that he hates being a dad. It is so hard for him. I hope the can shift. For all our sakes.
    I wonder if there are any father orientated inner child resources or practitioners in the UK that anyone can recommend?
    He is open to therapy but it is where to start…
    All the gratitude and love from me

    1. Alwynn Hynes says:

      Hi Izzy. Wow, your husband sounds amazing, as do you. There are some inner child coaches. One I know of who is incredible. Iv referenced him in the group I created following this podcast so please feel free to join. I hope beyond hope your husband finds his light. Because I know so deeply that feeling of feeling so inadequate. All my love. Alwynn

  7. Children do not deserve abuse ever.

  8. Thank you Alwyn and Janet for this very hard but amazing discussion. It took me weeks to have the courage to listen to it and weeks again to read the transcript. I’m going to save this post and try to read it every now and then.
    When I became a mother, I discovered Faber & Mazlish, later you and many more and I realised that I had no idea how to be the mother I wanted to be. I grew up in France in the 80s and parenting was very authoritarian (to some extent still is), even if my mum was influenced by the works of Francoise Dolto. None of my family can say thank you, sorry, I love you, I feel you and I felt that my parents weren’t going to be a role model for me. But most importantly, I now start to understand that my diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 38 and my traumatic experience of sexual abuse between the age 5 and 9 by a female cousin greatly affected my way of parenting. One quote of Alwyn completely broke me: “I had a little child in me who felt so unsafe and felt so unheard and unseen that my children triggered me constantly, they were mirrors for all of the deep pain and sadness I felt inside. And they just really wanted me to love myself as much as they loved me, but I couldn’t love me. So I got so angry about that and I was aggressive and I was lashing out at them.” I never looked at my emotional dysregulation through that lense and I am grateful for your words on my healing and parenting journey.
    I would like to finish on a positive note. Things have improved over the last couple of years for me. After years of medical errance, I got diagnoses (ASD but also narcolepsy, hEDS, MCAS), I started a trauma therapy and it’s all been liberating and this feeling definitely has a positive effect on my parenting.
    I am so grateful for you both sharing all those words and feelings that I too have felt. Thank you for this episode.

  9. Wow! I never write a response to anything I read or listen on internet but this podcast made me cry and it is not easy to make me cry. I consider myself very strong mother that was raised in Russia and “overcame” my childhood trauma with playing volleyball for many years. I wanted to be the best player which I’ve accomplished. I wanted to be the best mother to my children and give them freedom to feel and make decisions and not being afraid of speaking up. But I had no idea what happens to you when you let them do it. So much anger comes up and you can’t control. I kept asking myself “How is it possible that you were able to play a professional volleyball, move to another country and receive a college degree in another language but you are not able to go through a 2 years old innocent child’s big feelings!!! Parenthood is a rollercoaster. Just enjoy ups and downs every day. Thank you for such a beautiful podcast!!!

  10. I am also a younger childless person listening to these podcasts. I found you Janet through Magda’s work. I recently completed the Nurturing Nanny course. I love using RIE while caring for infants though I find the practice applys to all relationships.

    The rawness of this conversation, as others expressed, brought tears to my eyes. I appreciated Alwynn’s willingness to share so openly about her struggles. There can be so much resistance to looking at our pain and trauma. This perspective, that we’re all going through it, and that the children are growing and developing their own resilience from witnessing our transformation is helpful. I struggle to know how to include my big emotions, though I want to welcome children’s. I love that Janet is one of Alwynn’s imaginary mom’s:).

    Thank you both for starting this conversation on such a challenging and taboo subject.

  11. Wow this is my story as well. I’ve been working through recently uncovered memories of childhood trauma and abuse that were repressed for over 40 years. And my son lately has been triggering me like no other. This conversation helps me by but feeling so alone and having a bit of self-compassion, because I’ve been feeling so guilty and ashamed of my parenting lately. I’m really doing my best to survive in some ways and my son isn’t getting my best right now. I’m working so hard in my healing journey and I’ll give myself some credit for the hard work and the progress I’ve made. Thanks you!

  12. This episode has completely transformed my relationship with Janet’s work. I had been avoiding listening or reading it for months at a time because I felt like a failure with it and it was beyond my reach, inaccessible. I knew it would work, did work, but also it felt it brought up too much anger and controlling tendencies in me. I knew this was because of my trauma. However, since l tearfully listened to this podcast and did some emotional processing, I have started listening and reading so much more! It’s been amazing. I understand it so much better and I can apply it way more easily now. Hearing your journey Alwyn and Janet’s response, has just shifted things so quickly and dramatically for me. I hear the work differently, I’m more open to it and I feel myself becoming passionate about it. Thanks so much.
    Feel so much more empowered as a parent, he is more relaxed already…before I was often falling into taking it personally and getting triggered, almost like I had to suffer through the negative behaviour and try and implement Janet’s methods in a religious, robotic kind of way. With an intense, controlling energy, ironically because I was trying to retain a calm exterior and do a good job.
    This is maybe 4-5 days later. I have a feeling this change is going to last.
    Thank you both.

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