Something I’ve noticed is how much we can assume that we know what our child needs or wants. The problem is, we may not know them and what’s important to them at any given moment.
I was watching an episode of BONES, that really highlighted this issue.
The FBI partner Booth had is son on visitation and he’d got to the stage where he’s been expressing interest in dad having a girlfriend. Dad was really embarrassed and kept either avoiding or changing the subject whenever it came up with the women in his life.
Bones, who has a tendency to very direct, black and white thinking and low social awareness was curious about the boys motivation. So asked the child directly why he was interested in dad having a girlfriend.
Response because you get a pool with a girlfriend. The child logic in action.
The boy had a friend whose dad had got a new girlfriend, and when they all got together they’d moved to a house with a pool. Hence for the boy, he joined together girlfriend to pool.
Totally makes sequential sense, and in grown up world not logical at all. This is unsurprising because kids under the age of eight don’t yet even have the software to “logic”/reason through a problem to work out a deductible solution.
It’s one of the reasons why it’s a great idea to seek clarity about what a child means. How they put thoughts together in their mind can be quite different to how an adolescent might think and definitely different to how an adult would generally process a set of circumstances.
Our child is actually the expert on them and their experience. The more we can be ok to be consulting and collaborating with them, the easier we can empower our parenting journey to be.
So often it seems parents believe that being the adult means that we have to be the all knowing. That’s a lot of pressure to put on any human. Even in the military, and in big companies, the big boss is not responsible for having the answers to everything.
What is more important is to be open to hearing the opinion of others, and listening to the subject matter expert/s. In our families the kids are the subject matter experts on what’s happening in their heads. Our role is to open to hearing them without judgement, justification or defensiveness.
It’s accepting that we may not like their feedback, or they might not like our answer to their request, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong in the relationship. This is where having healthy boundaries is super important. Us knowing with complete confidence where the edges of our world are, so that our child can bump up against those boundaries and learn how to adjust and adapt when things don’t quite go as they want.
Our little kids can only look at their wants from their perspective. They are naturally completely self absorbed, and that’s developmentally appropriate.
in fact, to an extent, we are all self-absorbed when it comes to dealing with difficult situations. The opportunity is always related to how we respond to those difficult situations and difficult discussions. And in a child, even an adolescent child, they are still learning.
From a psychological and developmental perspective it is not appropriate for a child to be responsible for how we feel. As an adult we are responsible for our own feelings. A child is still learning and they learn from how we model to them.
It’s one of the biggest problems with old world parenting is the lack of recognition that a child is a human still to develop and master skills. That a healthy adult/child relationship happens when the adult knows they are not just bigger and stronger, they are also wiser and kinder.
It can be a difficult concept to accept for those of us who were raised by primary carers who were detached from their emotions and unable to create healthy attachments.
Most of us still love those in our family, even when we may not like them or how they act. It’s a big challenge when we are then caring for our own children and wishing to get what we didn’t receive as a child from our child. When that happens, we repeat the same emotional abuse as what was visited on us. Not something any usually intended to do, as it was often a reflection of what was accepted, at the time.
We have the opportunity to break the pattern and enable our children to be raised as emotionally intelligent and resilient adults who are unlikely to need to be reparented as an adult, in a way that we might need.
It’s part of evolving on purpose. Accepting there were things that did not go well, and that we are responsible for the choices moving forward. We cannot change the past, and we can establish a better future through the choices we make with our children.
The journey requires compassionate reflection, acceptance of the things we cannot change. The willingness to change the things that we can, even when uncomfortable, and the wisdom to know the difference and be kind to ourselves as we learn and implement as we become wiser.
If you are in the trenches raising kids and
not always sure whether there are better ways,