“Our egos want us to think we’re all snowflakes, no two alike. But really we all want the same things: love, forgiveness… chocolate.” ~Dr. Hadley
This quote is so simple and hilarious…all the while imparting wisdom behind each word. It is a beautiful thing to be reminded of our own ability to be judged and to judge. A lot of growth comes from seeing the innocence in ourselves and others…our connectedness.
Most of the time, I’m able to learn from my brilliant pre-teen clients, as we unravel their week. I learn about them…I learn about myself & how to be a better mom. I learn about my own kids & what they need. I learn about my own mother.
As I sat listening to a client discuss their mother, I could hear a need for individuation…the most natural & age-appropriate thing in the world. As this client began to loose steam, I listened more. I began to hear a second message…quieter, but just as powerful. It was a small voice…the voice of a child, and it said I need quality time with my mom. This young adult wanted to feel loved & wanted to feel heard.
As I responded to this brave soul, I felt struck by how much my client and their mother wanted the same thing. It was clear how they had each gotten muddled up along the way, even with the best of intentions. I began to explain like this…
Your mother, like you, starts from a place of love. Throughout the day, she puts worried thinking into her mind. She worries about what may go wrong for you, and her reality begins to change. The lens she sees life through has shifted. Now she wants to protect you and she is busy. She is busy doing and listening to what should be done next. Her mind has her going & you begin to feel unheard.
You, on the other hand, have not said a peep. Quiet, but not still. Your mind, too, has begun to create a story. In this story your mother plays the part of the mean slave-driver. Everything she does is out of a need to control (and wreck) your life. Your mind is busy & full of judgement, leaving your mother to feel disrespected.
Now you’re both deep in your own feelings & it gets hard to see clearly or even remember where you started from. From this place no one can see that you both want the same thing. The mother wants to feel that her child is doing okay. She needs this if she is too trust this child with more freedom and responsibility. The child needs to feel loved and heard so that there is safety to speak up. This is the only way that the child can begin to ask for what they need as they navigate into their teen years.
This whole process takes trust, but before that it takes listening. Listening…the most glorious word I’ve learned as a parent! We must listen…really look at our child and listen! Patiently and to them only…dropping our own thinking as quick as it comes up, so that we may get back to our child’s words. This is it…the magic wand parents all look for. It takes being vulnerable, but we must begin to treat each other delicately…as if we were really all snowflakes.
Our kids see us as we maneuver through difficulties. If we want to be listened to…If we want to be valid and respected, we must illustrate listening. The answers are all here anyway…in our children’s words. If we can create moments where our child feels acknowledged and listened to, all of the other details are solved with more efficiency and grace.
This is true, because when we allow ourselves to smile with our kids, to laugh and play with them, something else happens, too. We drop our personal thinking and are right in the moment with them. This opens up some space for our own insights to come through & suddenly we are not lost anymore.
In the story I shared above, both the child and the mother wanted to feel connected. They needed to enjoy each others company and be able to hear from each other. There may still be details that they disagree on, and mom will need to set boundaries, but they will have restored the one thing that keeps them strong…their connection.
Being connected with your child is the one and only way to navigate through the stormy seas of parenting. It is our life preserver and the one thing that always works. Although, a little chocolate couldn’t hurt either!