Being worthy of their trust, by first demonstrating our trust in themA while back, I saw the following comment on a page from which I often take a few moments to share, learn, and find my inspiration. The site is Natural Motherhood, and the FB page has continuously active conversation.One day, I came across the following request for encouragement, and it stayed with me for a while. So often, I wish I could reach out and wrap my arms around these brave women and men, choosing to parent against the collective, and instead forging ahead in the way they know is most beneficial for their children, their family, and our world. I wish I could step into their space, smile gently face to face, and share the quiet knowing that flourishes inside us. Here is the thought; I hope you will journey through this with me.
“Hi, I need some advice please. My little ones are almost 3 and 15mos. We practice gentle, compassionate parenting. Lately I have been getting the, I told you so” from family members. I am having a hard time and am at a loss. My kids are both wild, rambunctious, whiney and just don’t hear me when I talk to them. We can’t take them places because of how they behave. My littler one screams and throws tantrums almost all day long…if I don’t give her exactly what she wants when she wants she loses it completely. I am just exasperated and exhausted. I’m not sure what to do and I feel like I’m failing miserably as a parent. My grandma says my parenting style has “created little brats.” It breaks my heart.”Reading requests for help like these, my first response is to shake my head side to side, like an eraser is used. I actually visualize an eraser sometimes, like the Mister Eraser on the show, “The Color Crew”. Aeehghhh… I want to say.. “Neh, stop, back up, start over, scratch all that.” I want to say, “Go to the beginning. Start there, find your gentleness and find their eyes, then take a step forward in the process. The forest, the trees, the entire system, we have to have water, sunlight, and roots.” Find some dirt, and start drawing whatever comes to mind, maybe you’ll be blessed and your children will join you.
When we can see the world through our children’s eyes, from the perspective their minds can comprehend, our own eyes are opened and our understanding, compassion, wisdom, and most importantly, our grace expands exponentially. Gentle grace with ourselves and one another allows us to patiently trust the process of life as it unfolds and develops.
When we are struggling, it is most often a result of discomfort, strain, or our own emotional needs being unmet to some degree. Our children are mirrors. Step one, identify expectations and determine whether they are there out of mutual benefit and meeting of needs, or an underlying fear/concern/need for control.
The judgement of others comes, and when we let it in, it impacts us and we end up questioning ourselves. Instead, we can choose to empower ourselves by choosing to bring our mind to a place where we can see the world through our children’s viewing portal. Instead of expectations imposed by the adult world, we see the value of being a child. Bringing yourself to their physical height, while making this choice to see through their eyes, has a profound effect, btw.
Children hear so much more than we sometimes realize, both in the words we do say and those we do not. They “hear” us at a core and integrated level that we, as adults, have often forgotten. Compliance and Listening are two very different concepts.
How often, as an adult, do we appreciate our day being managed extensively? How apt are we to happily comply with constant overseeing, herding, redirection, correction, scolding, disapproval, annoyance, irritation, expectation, and the reproach of someone who sees themselves as “over” us, for whatever reason. I don’t know about you, but I’m not much in the market for being told when to use the bathroom, what I will eat, when to get myself dressed and what to wear, how to speak, when to speak, what I should respond to because someone else thinks so, how to spend my free time, and finally, precisely when and how I am to cause myself to sleep. It’s a cacophony of being controlled and not being good enough.
Step back. Step out if you have to. Change your expectations, discover what is worth appreciating and being downright in awe of, and watch how your approach and reactions follow the shift.
If your children are whining, they are not being heard by you. Their needs are not being met in ways that they need most, or they cannot trust that you will respond reliably. This is the purpose of whining, to be acknowledged and have our needs be addressed.
If your children are wild and rambunctious, relish their energy. Find a way to catch their excitement and their enthusiasm, and enjoy some for yourself. The more you move, the more energy you will have. The more you laugh and squeal, the more laughter and joy your life will know. The more you look, the more you will see. The more you listen, the more you will take in, the greater your perspective and understanding will be.
Screams, tantrums, outbursts that are not positive, these are desperate attempts at being heard and understood. Adults do the same, but some with a bit more refinement and calculation for effect, children act on impulse. I love their purity of spirit. They do what they know, what they have been shown, and whatever they have discovered is effective. If you want your child to stop having such outbursts, then hear them and respond in a loving and fair manner BEFORE they have to resort to such efforts.
It’s a tough job, and it requires something that all of us can give, but some of us have to find and develop first. But when we realize the difference parenting in a way that guides but doesn’t diminish, encourages curiosity without expectation of performance, and truly reveres the process and challenge that is Childhood, we end up with harmony and flow.
I will begin to write with specific example/scenario for the purpose of comparison, and to bring to real life all the concepts here.
Also something to remember… Our Little Persons are just that… they are not supposed to be small adults. The mind develops on its own schedule, and when we, with grace and wisdom, nurture those minds with acceptance, and trust the process of growing and developing, we are able to step beyond the realm of negativity, fear, expectation, and judgment…
When we choose to revere their childhood, and admire their accomplishment of meeting the challenge of growing and developing, then the natural result is our respect and admiration of them and their autonomy, and we can then truly love them, unconditionally.