My Thoughts Today on Parenting and Relationships

relationships with logoI have been thinking about parenting and relationships in general and am noticing a powerful tool for healthy connections. My daughter-in-law, Amanda, is probably the most patient person I’ve ever met. And not just smart, but wise. I watch how she parents Benny, my grandson and am amazed and deeply gratified. When Benny pitches a fit because he can’t have something he wants, take for example to watch a video, he starts screaming and crying like any three-year-old would do. Instead of telling him to stop crying or giving him ultimatums for his unpleasant behavior, she simply says something like, “I can see you’re feeling really sad right now because you can’t watch that video.” An interesting thing happens when she does this: Benny usually quiets down, wipes his eyes, she gives him a hug, and they go onto something else. The simple act of acknowledging his feelings, not trying to fix the situation or force him to behave differently, is profound and beautiful to behold. I think about my own parenting and the forceful way I opposed my own children when they did things that were completely unacceptable. And I notice how counterproductive my actions were. The more I scolded and reprimanded, the more horrible they felt and the more they dug their heels in to do it MORE. I have no regrets about how I parented because I know in my heart I did the best I could with the tools I had, and they turned out well after all. But I wonder how things would have been had I learned what Amanda modeled. I know I could have saved myself and my children a lot of grief and stress. I think about my own life, when I am going through a difficult situation and how strongly my need is for someone to just acknowledge my feelings, to see me, accept me, empathize with me, just the way I am. I think about how I resist and don’t feel cared for when someone tries to “fix” me in those moments. I can figure it out. My heart knows what to do. I just need to feel and experience whatever it is that’s happening and have someone say, “I am here. It’s okay. Just feel and be. I see you.” Somehow that opens space for my heart to move from turmoil to a quiet place where I can be led by my heart to whatever the next step is. What would our relationships look like if we could see past the junk we tend to project, and learn how to just be with each other, to see each other, to empathize, to acknowledge our feelings openly, no matter how intense or negative they are? What would our relationships look like if we could learn not to react and be defensive, but to move past the story that is occurring in these situations and just sit with each other, in their (our) misery? It’s something to think about…