Letting Sophia fully express herself has been a struggle for me recently. It pains me to say that, as I never consciously want to be the reason she can't be her authentic-self. After all, so much of my personal growth has been centered around the fact that I lost touch with my inner child due to conditioning from my parents, siblings, friends and society as a whole.
When I reflect on what exactly I mean when I say" fully express herself", what I really mean is her natural, raw and untampered expression at the times when it's not convenient for me. Boy that is painful to write, and especially to publish online. However, I've committed to discovering the deepest truths within myself, and that requires radical transparency.
Some of self expression comes in the way of temper tantrums when she doesn't want to eat what we've made for breakfast. The unending questions and requests that don't stop. Yelling at the top of her lungs at the most random times that poop almost comes out. The joyous and blissful play when it's way past bedtime. When she's singing her favorite song too loudly while I'm putting Lili to sleep. Keep in mind that I have no problem with the loving, soft and obedient behavior. And there lies the truth.
As her father, I try my very best not to filter her expression by what is convenient for me, but I can tell you that its a very challenging behavior for me to change. But its certainly a goal worth pursuing for her to avoid the same conditioning that I am now working to overcome. (people-pleasing, self-criticism, judgment, self-deprecation, external locus of self love, etc) In order for her to have the best chance in doing so, I must allow her to express ALL of her feelings, without judgment or condemnation, especially when it's not convenient for me. There will be boundaries of course, but there's a big difference between boundaries are set to keep her and others from experiencing pain, and boundaries set by my triggers and limits of convenience.
This all sounds so painfully obvious, but one of the things that is so surprising about parenthood is how it so often brings out all of our shadow. I pride myself on being a "conscious" parent, and have had my share of self-righteous views on how I'm "breaking the cycle". But I would be lying if I said I don't often get triggered or "fall asleep" around my girls. I've fortunately been able to give myself some grace, as parenting isn't about perfection, it's about practice. I'm just grateful that I'm committed to following through on my vow to be the best dad possible. To go willingly inwards to resolve my "stuff", so that these little souls that we get to experience more love, joy and happiness in their lives. Parenting isn't always fun, but it always provides you with opportunities to find and bring light to our shadows, and fill them with love.