parent opinion

Paisley's daughter Luna was six-months-old when she cut her grandparents out of her life.

Cardwell mum and founder of Conscious Parenting Movement, Paisley Rylance, says parents need to consider ditching their biological family for a new tribe if their family is not serving or nourishing them as parents.

She said being in a toxic relationship with our families can lead to depression and anxiety, particularly in new parents already prone to post-natal depression.

“We hold the expectation that our family will be there to help out in a supportive space. So when they don’t, it can bring up feelings of loneliness and depression and anxiety, especially for first time parents,” Paisley said.

“As a society we tend to be quite wrapped up as a society in a sense of obligation and feel as though we must listen and act on advice, even when it doesn’t feel right.”

Team Mamamia shares the worst things they’ve said to their mother-in-law.

Video by MMC

Paisley works with families to support them from conception onwards to connect to themselves, their children and partners to help them raise healthy children.

She said there are a lot of parents that are in toxic relationships because they are hanging onto biological family and a sense of obligation. Different parenting styles can be the biggest cause of the break up in the family dynamics.

This is common even among couples where the mum, for example, wants to co-sleep and breastfeed, but the dad wants to put baby in a different room and bottle feed.

“Often, I see the conflict can come from the mother-in-law and then the toxicity then grows because of the conflict between the father and his mother,” she explained.

Paisley said mums can also experience unhealthy relationships within mothers’ groups or playgroups too.

“I regularly hear from mums that they don’t enjoy the women they hang out with in groups such as playgroup. It can often feel forced. When you begin connecting with people who are like you it feels natural and easy and comfortable.”

toxic family members
Paisley with her daughter Luna. Image: Supplied.
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Paisley has experienced the effects of a toxic family relationship first hand since having her daughter, Luna now 11-months-old. She said her mum and step-father barely helped after the birth and when she asked for help, they said they were too busy. Conflict also arose over their different parenting styles and expectations.

“We do baby led weaning and Luna was six-months-old, sitting on my lap eating and playing with her food and cutlery. She was getting bits on me, the table and the floor. My mum said, ‘make sure that you eat some of that and she doesn’t just waste it all.'

"That really spiked my anxiety because Luna was enjoying her food, and this process is a crucial part of her development. I knew from the beginning that my mum was never going to be in line with what I do. But it still shook me.”

Paisley said she began to use these situations as an opportunity to express her authentic self to her mother.

“The more I expressed myself the more distant she got until she stopped speaking to us.

"It hurt initially but it was a relief because in that time we met another couple who took us under their wing and that was when we really started meeting our tribe."

Paisley believes her new tribe has helped shape her parenting by reducing her anxiety while allowing her space to be authentic and to follow biological parenting by being there with no expectations.

“Whether Luna is comfortable or not she lets me know; this means she has chosen a lot of our tribe because when she likes people, she lets me know."

Paisley said the more authentic you are with yourself the more authentic the connections around you are going to be, allowing you to follow what feels right.

“Like any relationship it will be trial and error. The easiest way to attract your tribe is to be authentic in your life, to communicate openly and honestly, to be gentle and real and to let go of your own and society’s expectations.”

She said it is crucial that mums speak up and stand up for themselves.

“Tell people how you are feeling, now matter how uncomfortable that is in the moment. No matter what fears that brings up.

"If someone else’s words and actions are making you feel uncomfortable let them know because sometimes people don’t know they are doing it and that is the first step to becoming authentic in yourself.

"The more I stood up for myself the more my parents stepped back. But when people walk away it allows us space in our lives for our tribe to come and find us."

Have you ever had to cut toxic people out of your life? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below. 

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