It’s a time of year that when we meet up with family and people we may not see at any other time.
I always find it fascinating as to why are children expected to speak or hug or kiss people just because we say so.
For little kids its got to be really confusing, especially if those relatives are ones they don’t see all the time.
On one hand they get told
not to talk to strangers,
and then on the other hand,
in situations like this where these relatives are not part of their everyday life,
there is this expectation that they then have some kind of intimate connection to someone they don’t know.
If a child doesn’t feel comfortable, it doesn’t mean they are being rude
It means they have experienced the edge of their world, right now, and it doesn’t extend to this person.
That seems perfectly reasonable and sensible.
Yet there will be people who will chose to be offended. That is not your problem.
I think back to when my kids were really little.
My husband was in the Navy, and would be away for weeks and months at a time. Even though it was daddy, even daddy knew that he might be a stranger to his little peeps, so he took the lead from them.
It’s important to be consistent with the messages we send to our children,
because they don’t have the capacity to seperate the intentions from the meanings they receive.
It’s why things like go punch your pillow when you are angry, may not be a sustainable fool proof solution, because the person who receives the instructions don’t isn’t always able to apply rules across different situations.
It might be tough for adults who were brought up in a way that dismissed their feelings and are used to rolling over the feelings of others, because they don’t understand boundaries.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t appropriate to be supporting our child learn how to be more functional than earlier generations.
The more people who understand the concept of personal boundaries, the better off we will all be.
Personal boundaries are us knowing the edges of our world without trampling over the boundaries of others. Many adults believe when a child expresses themselves, that it’s personal insult, that they are being rude and “not respecting their elders”.
But what if it’s around the other way. That the child isn’t being rude, they just might be inexperienced at how to express that boundary.
It’s about being conscious that what we might consider comfortable is not necessarily what is comfortable for somebody else. That doesn’t mean either is wrong, it’s that they have different tolerances, and that is part of what makes us individuals.
It’s time that old world adults appreciated the bigger picture that a child is learning how to make choices for their personal safety. Grandma or Uncle John might be safe, but if our child doesn’t know them, its normal that they might push back. We (the adults) are the model for the children. Why should we expect them to respect our boundaries, when we don’t accept theirs? We are meant to be leaders.
It’s all very well for Grandma to take offence, however that’s her personal choice to be offended. I assume Grandma loves her grandchildren and would not want them to go with strangers. The problem for little kids is, they can’t tell the difference between who are relatives and who are not. When we make children “BE NICE” to Grandma, amongst all the other things we do so that our kids seem like “nice” people. We can be teaching them, with no conscious intention or awareness, that they don’t matter, and that their opinion is not worthy.
The problem with those thoughts is that because we are driven to be accepted as humans, we can turn our children into people pleasers. The type of person who is more easily bullied. I know that would not be the intention, though can be the consequence. isn’t about being rude, it’s about being conscious that what we might consider comfortable is not necessarily what is comfortable for somebody else. That doesn’t mean either is wrong, it’s that they have different tolerances, and that is part of what makes us individuals.
Why should we expect them to respect our boundaries, when we don’t accept theirs. We are meant to be leaders.
From a personal safety perspective, we want our child to feel comfortable to express themselves in uncomfortable situations.
So when grandma gets upset when little Janie doesn’t want to give her a hug, because she doesn’t really know her,
Consider, who am I being, right now, and what is the example I wish to set?
The thing is, that like my husband discovered. That by treating our child’s reservations respectfully, they were able to come closer sooner.
When we’re navigating with our parents, grandparents, or other not so familiar friends and family, we can still approach with respect. After all, we are the example our children is watching. Instead of reacting to the potential clash, it’s ok to advocate, though also to validate the adults feelings. In that moment it’s quite possible, if the adult has taken offence, that you are in fact meeting their who doesn’t know how to do these emotions easily either.
If we join the chaos, it’s quite possible our own inner child is in play, getting caught by the role we have in our family instead of acting as the adult. It’s a common trap, it plays out in lots of families. It means there is an opportunity to break the cycle, so that everyone can have the opportunity to evolve.
When we allow the other person the opportunity to discover on their own timing, that the relationship is built on stronger foundations.
The Gift is in the generosity of acceptance.
What other space are you creating to enable someone to come closer?
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