I work with parents because I listen to kids. Nearly every day I sit with young people, children, teens, teens, and young adults, and they tell me about their trauma. They don't usually tell me on purpose, complaining about their parents. Instead, they tell me indirectly.
They tell me how important it is to do the right thing, how ashamed they are of their mistakes and imperfections. They tell me in parent-words about their anxiety and how it would be good if they could just relax. Older ones tell me about what bad kids they were, how they used to be angry and temperamental, how they inconvenienced their parents, how they didn't listen.
They have absorbed so completely a parental perceptions and believe there's something wrong with them.
And the true tragedy is that each of their parents loves them intensely, but these children, teens, young adults, and grown up children don't feel it. Whether I'm talking to a child or tween, a teen or young adult, a young parent or someone whose kids are grown, I hear the imprint of conditional love, of feeling unworthy. And yet our parents loved us, probably in ways we can't even imagine. So what's the problem? If our parents loved and love us, why are we suffering?
It's because even the most loving parent may not know how to make people feel loved. We are so unskillful, not because we don't love enough but because we don't understand each other enough. And this can change! That's why I write every day. It's why I teach these classes on mindfulness and parenting. It's why I meet with kids and adults and parents and families each day. Because we can understand each other better. We can help our kids to feel loved and secure today, right now. We don't need more money or even more time. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to give our children everything they want. We just have to love wisely and with understanding.
More on this all week!
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.