Raising today’s children is no small task. It can be extraordinarily confounding as the children are coming in the a new awareness, a new consciousness that sometimes appears to be defiance but tends to be a deep appreciation of their own knowing and inner guidance. Many are saying no to the institutions that do not meet their true needs, especially schools. They may refuse to do what they may perceive to be meaningless (and often we as parents may agree) homework or to study for subjects that do not interest them. This can send parents to the loony bin as they try to force their child to either go to school or actually to participate. Understanding goes a long way here as does empathy. When we try to apply force, control, false authority in these children a fight of epic proportions may arise until we as parents feel harried, frustrated, angry, exhausted or, worst of all, realize we are falling out of love with our own children.
If we blame ourselves, try to beat ourselves into a new way of parenting, we stick ourselves more fully to the tar baby. Blame and shame don’t work toward ourselves or our children. When we realize how much disharmony there is in our own homes, we may want to curl up in a ball and give in to despair. Yet there is a way out. It is not for the faint of heart.
The most important thing I have discovered is to look at the child’s concerns with open eyes. If they are complaining about school, listen with compassion and see if something can be done. When the child no longer perceives you as an enemy, rather as an ally, this can lead to much greater cooperation. For months my daughter absolutely refused to go to school. I was distraught, exhausted within minutes of getting out of bed by her refusal. I literally tried to drag her out of bed! One day I was in despair and prayed for guidance. I turned to my “A Course in Miracles” for answers and was told to surrender. I was like what the $$^&@!@%&*^%$ does that mean!?!?!?!? How do I surrender? The need to comply with the school’s authority, the fear of a truancy notice kept me on the hot seat of total resistance. But I sat and considered what surrender could mean. I finally realized my daughter was deeply tired. Her learning differences made school a torment. I felt my heart soften and I finally got the message, let her sleep! So I let her sleep until she woke up around 11:15 a.m. I then asked her gently if she was ready to go to school and she said yes. We never had the problem again! Now for me this was indeed a miracle. I realized what has shifted was my heart from one of demands, concern for my own anxiety and stress and need to obey external authority to truly listening to her, hearing her concerns and having deep compassion for her experience. This awareness, then giving up of my position of demand and control began to change everything.
The other vital piece was realizing when I felt triggered by her I needed to work with the trigger internally before trying to address it externally. In other words if I felt she was being bossy or controlling, I allowed myself to feel how deeply that disturbed me, to dive into the extremely uncomfortable sensations arising in MY body in relation to her behavior. It did not take long to recognize she was reminding me of my most difficult relationship on the planet with one of my parents. It took me a long time to see and appreciate the gift this was in my life. It forced me to finally heal those old wounds where I had felt brutalized by that parent’s controlling and often raging behavior. Each time I would get triggered, I would look inside, feel the pain as physical sensations in my own body and apply loving kindness to my own hurting inner child. This happened repeatedly until finally I was not so reactive and the chain of intergenerational pain began to unwind. I slowly saw my daughter as helping to save me rather then crucify me. I saw the soul agreements we had made to support each other and I took ownership of my own unhealed places. The more I did, the more she cooperated and opened up. Yes, it did not happen over night, far from it. Yes, there where times when i though NO MORE!
Fast forward to today. When I was at the high school signing some papers they need for my daughter, one of her friend’s came up to me, We chatted and I give her a hug then blew both of them a kiss as I was leaving. My daughter’s friend asked her if she would trade mom’s with her, saying I was so awesome. My daughter said NO very emphatically. As I waked away I heard the friend plead, please, just for a day?
Sometimes my daughter prepares me breakfast when I am tired, if she needs to wake me she does it with the same gentleness and loving kindness I always try to wake her with. In other words, she completed mirror and reflects the loving way I treat her just as earlier she mirrored the anxious, controlling, bossy way I used to treat her. The wonderful news is we have powerful dominion over our relationships with our children. The less than comfortable news is that in order to heal our relationships, we must first heal our own hearts.