“C’mon Hugo, your cousin is doing it!” sung the voices around my 4yo as he firmly refused to go on the waterslide.
Waterbom Bali has children squealing with delight, but not this one; not in this moment. I could feel the tension swelling in my husband, his jaw tightening as his usual gentle nature gave way to hardened parenting in order to coax his son out of his fear and into the freedom and excitement that water play brings so many.
But the more everyone pushed, the firmer my son’s resolve became, and the more entrenched his fear; his body shrinking with the weight of his worry.
“He needs to get past it, he’ll waste the day otherwise and be disappointed. You always tell me to look for the balance – there’s no balance to this fear of his!” said my husband in an exasperated tone.
I responded, “But fear doesn’t see reason; he’s had some bad experiences and he’s unable to get past those yet. What if the slides are your idea of ‘making the most of it’, and they mean nothing to him? We need to meet him where he is at, it’s not for us to push.”
Two parents, both wanting what’s best for our child, but viewing ‘growth’ in different ways. Bringing to the situation our own internal and largely unconscious childhood wounds and beliefs, as well as our own values today, and projecting them.
It’s what we humans all do, every day; viewing the world through our own narrow filter and then projecting out ‘how it should be’ onto everyone else to conform to our ideas of things.
But it gets really interesting when we have kids, doesn’t it?
And we’re facing ourselves, through the mirror our children offer us, reflecting all the traits and parts we find ‘not okay’ or uncomfortable?
Add in a partner who is also facing parts of themselves; their uncomfortable, unconscious stuff, and you see why family is perhaps the greatest vessel for our spiritual growth.
So I tried every angle of play, and listening to feelings, in my kit bag. He wouldn't budge. I could feel the eyes of others around me, perhaps wondering what was 'wrong' with my child, hands clasped firmly over his ears, eyes fixed downwards. I knew then I had to let go of any outcome I was fixed on, and trust and accept all of him, and where he was at in this moment. And so I did.
We are quick to compare children; it happens from birth and forms part of our identity, we understand a lot about who we are, through understanding who we are not – but at what point does comparing our kid’s level of determination, fearlessness, talents, or patience/kindness/good behaviour (insert your favourite virtue here) teach our children to become adults who ‘toe the line’ of what’s acceptable in the eyes of others?
In adults, we value the innovators, the disruptors, the movers and shakers, the ones who don’t conform, and yet in childhood these traits are seen as unruly, difficult to be around, and challenging to our own sense of self, in the case of the sullen or sensitive child.
As I sat in the paddling pool with baby Sylvie, I thought about the words of Albert Einstein, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid”.
Everyone is born with the capacity for genius. But the more we try to fit the mould of ‘society’ and inject the ‘should’s’ and opinions of others, the less we believe it.
Later in the day, I overhead my husband softly talking to Hugo saying ‘it’s okay mate, you do it when you’re ready, maybe next time when you’re older’. It was after I sheepishly had to admit to myself, and him, that I’d been doing my own kind of pushing; after having so much fun on the slides I wanted him to share in it too, and offered an ice cream if Hugo would bravely hop on a kiddy slide with me; ‘conscious parenting’ principles out the window.
And that’s when I realised, again, that it really is all love, we as parents communicate love to our children in the form of our own highest values; we want to share what we love, with them.
I also saw how the roles of ‘supporter’ and ‘challenger’ for our son swapped and changed throughout the day between my husband and I. The Universe is offering all of us, all of the time, both support and challenge, so a wise question to ask if we perceive our children being challenged, is ‘who is supporting them in this moment?’ Maybe it’s you, or someone else. As mothers on a conscious parenting path, we can easily be led to believe that we need to be ‘all things’ to our children, but this is not so.
Honouring the separateness between us and our children, and giving them the autonomy and permission to be wholeheartedly themselves is some of the biggest work we do as parents, as it teaches us to let go, stay humble, and trust.
To explore more of your mother-child dynamic and find a new parenting toolkit, join us for our next live program - ALIGNED PARENTING - commencing 30 April 2017.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
Module 1 - Emotional Evolution
Learn the basics of secure attachment, respectful, emotionally-attuned parenting and the profound nature of the dynamic we have with our children to facilitate mutual growth. Understand what happens when we're 'too attached' or over-supportive of our children and what 'dis-regulated' states in our children and ourselves look and feel like and how to find balance again.
Module 2 - Mirror Magic
Your child's behaviour is never separate from your own, and the parts of them that trigger you the most, embody the greatest learnings about yourself and your childhood story. Learn how to find the wisdom in wounds your child is calling you into, so you can parent from a place of authenticity, rather than guilt, shame or blame.
Module 3 - Functional Dysfunction
The 'perfect, peaceful family' is an illusion. A family needs both 'war' and 'peace' within it to grow, just like we need to both support and challenge ourselves and our children to grow. Gain an understanding of your own unique family dynamic and find a new sense of gratitude for those who push your buttons, so you can empower yourself, and love more of your family, just as they are.
Module 4 - Play The Universe
Unlock the higher order of the 'guilts' that plague your motherhood and empower yourself with playful parenting principles to create freedom and joy in your relationships with your children. Implement tools to teach empathy and resilience in your children, and by extension, your own inner child, re-patterning your experience and transforming your reality.
Bridget Wood is Co-Founder of Nourishing The Mother and a lover of life and connecting people to themselves through wisdom, introspection and quality questions. Bridget is also the Director and Events Manager of Suburban Sandcastles. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the bigger picture of human behaviour and how the world works, Bridget is on an inspired path to learn more deeply who we are beyond the limitations that we, and our society and culture, place upon upon us.