Our kids challenge us! That’s just how it works.
I don’t know many people who can honesty say, “Raising my child has been easy.” On the other hand I have heard plenty of parents say, “Being a parent is the hardest job I have ever had!” And often in the same sentence they add, “and it is also the most rewarding!” Everyone knows that rewards come when we push our boundaries and face our fears!
Last fortnight I talked about how my son’s procrastination seriously triggered me – made me angry! And how it didn’t stop until I completely let go of my baggage about him turning into a ‘loser’!
Let’s stop right here while I just bring up a very important point…
There are two ways we can change our kid’s behaviour. The first is to change our behaviour. The second is to change theirs. In my experience it is great to do both starting with us first!
Okay back to the story…
Since my last post I’ve had a couple of people ask me how I let go of my fear of my son turning into a loser! Well in all honesty I followed the Pit Stop actions and when I got to asking Shady what was wrong, she said she was scared Jack would end up living in a dumpster in Sydney addicted to ice. Then I pictured this coming true and I cried and cried my eyes out (kind of like grieving for something that could possibly happen)! Pretty full on I know but it did the trick! The procrastination hasn’t come back! Seriously! It worked because I let go of the fear inside me that was attracting that behaviour from my son.
Now if his Shady says his homework is too hard, or too much, or whatever, our deal is he asks me to help him. Okay, so yeah, he does ask when I’m in the middle of something else but hey – that is progress (maybe I’ve got baggage about not being able to do stuff without getting interrupted)!
Okay so let’s look at another real life case…
My friend Ben is a single dad with three beautiful kids (his wife left them a few years ago). His eldest girl (9 years) is seriously challenging him. In his words, “She lies, cheats, steals. She eats heaps of shit she knows is ‘sometimes’ food. She is manipulative. Her effort at school is piss-poor and she is determined to evoke disappointment and disapproval from me… and it is getting harder to deny her that response.”
If we do the same as I did with my son…
What fear does Ben have inside him that is attracting those behaviours from his daughter?
Let’s ask Ben, “What is your biggest fear for your beautiful daughter?”
Ben’s answer, “This may not be what you’re after…
My biggest fear is not about her, it’s about me. When I tried to answer this question all I could think of through the tears is the instant the midwife handed her to me, overwhelmed and in awe I swore I wouldn’t let her down.
My biggest fear is that I’m breaking that promise. That despite my greatest efforts, surrounding her with love and support, by instructing and reasoning, questioning and listening, that I’m proving unable to induce healthy decision-making… and when I see her knowingly choose destructive and hurtful behaviours, that fear is triggered.
Don’t go trying to convince me that it’s ok to let your child down, coz baby, it aint!”
Can you see the solution?
All Ben has to do is let go of his baggage that it is not okay to let his daughter down. To do this he needs to go somewhere on his own, sit down, imagine a scene where he totally stuffs up and then imagine the worst possible consequences his stuffing up could have on his daughter. Then he needs to grieve about that future possibility as though it has happened.
Can you also see that Ben can’t possibly be a ‘perfect parent’? None of us can, we are bloody human and we will let our kids down!
On the other hand we are the perfect parents for our kids assuming we evolve or learn along the way. When they trigger our baggage it is time to let our baggage go. Our gorgeous kids are helping us be even better parents and we are helping them reach their potential by being super role models and by helping them with their behaviour too.
I have no doubt that Ben’s gorgeous daughter has some serious baggage about her mum abandoning her. Once dad has dealt with his baggage he will be in a much better position to help her be vulnerable and to open up about her own fears too!
Thanks for sharing Ben! You are a legend dad and person – even when you let your kids down! If you don’t ever stuff up how else are your gorgeous kids going to learn to love you (and others) no matter what!