Showing Kids They're Safe
For our kids to feel safe (continuing from yesterday's post), they need to feel us willing to stand with them. Keeping them safe in a concrete/material way is both important and impossible, especially when they're at particular risk in this messy world--when they're BIPOC, LBGTQI+, neurodivergent, ill, living in poverty, in a war zone or violent area, in a home with domestic violence, carrying personal and/or family trauma, etc. As loving parents, we need to do what we can while recognizing that we can not control outcomes.
'Standing with' sounds simple--of course we want to do that, right?! But is that what you experienced growing up? Most of us carry invisible patterns of self-abandonment that make their way into our parenting.
How do we change these patterns? We practice asking ourselves, can I greet this complicated, beautiful, imperfect being as they are right now? Is something in my nervous system cringing or reacting or scared, wanting to coach them toward being somehow more palatable to me or the world?
Children need, so badly, the feeling that we are willing to meet them as they are. That we aren't embarrassed by them, that we can handle their messy, deep selves. They need us to stand with them as they rise up into their beautiful wholeness, even before we see where it's heading.
To clarify--this doesn't mean we overprotect or rescue our children from the real consequences of their actions. It just means that we stay close and connected while they grow. For example, when a kid hurts a friend and feels isolated or ashamed or angry, we can we sit with them in it, loving them and letting them learn what they are learning rather than disconnecting, shaming, explaining, fixing, or making it about our feelings. What's important is not that they (or we) are always comfortable but that they are not cut off from our love.
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I'm a person on a messy journey--healing, learning, discovering and rediscovering. Sharing, writing, talking, and teaching help me to understand myself and the world more clearly. I hope it can help make your journey a easier, too.