Children are here to help us evolve and grow up.
There are many people throughout time who have said in many ways that children are here to help us evolve and grow up. Dr. Shefali and Dr. Dan Siegel have done so very powerfully, for example. Here, I am simply sharing these teachings. Each one of us can use the situations with our children to see ourselves and grow.
Noticing our reactions to their behaviors, we are confronted by parts of ourselves we don’t necessarily like. We get very familiar with what triggers us to be angry or sad – as well as happy and joyful. Most powerfully, our children allow us to see patterns that have subconsciously been running our lives. They, our children, need for us to grow out of repeating those patterns so that they are not also limited by them.
We get to grow as a result of parenting them – for us to heal and thrive, as well as for them to do their own growing. Our children require that we notice how intense we are. Why am I angry at this child for not following my script and needs? Which part of me isn’t getting some very basic needs met? What makes me think my child’s job is to meet my needs? Because the child in me is still demanding, whining, crying “What about me?”
When we see our part in this, it is easier to accept and understand that each one of our children is his/her/their own sovereign being.
A couple of months into the process of working with one particular couple, I asked what was a current dilemma they were facing. The answer was leaving the park. Exploring different scenarios, it turns out that when their daughter was with her grandmother, this child would leave easily. Why? Turns out Grandma lets her stay as long as she wants, and the younger brother is happy to stay as well. This young girl resists leaving the park because she knows her system still needs to run, to move, to play.
With that understanding, the parents got that their daughter is actually doing her job – listening to and trying to get her needs met. Her body still needs to move and to enjoy moving. We brainstormed ideas about how to use this information to ease the transitions. Their active participation with her – heavy energy expenditure of gross motor fun – starting ten minutes before the parent wanted to leave, and continued while leaving the park, was the solution.
What ideas does this spark for you? What does it tell you about your frustration when your child does not transition on your time-agenda? What belief does it reveal? Maybe – “I think children should ___.” Or “The world isn’t friendly to me.” Our answers to these questions will help us break the pattern that we think children are for us to control, or teach a lesson.
It helps us see and be able to be what they actually need: the calm anchor and safe-harbor their system can orient towards. Seeing our patterns and their sources, and also knowing that our children are sovereign beings, we are more able to believe that’s it’s not our fault. Children come into the world with circumstances inside of themselves that set up them up to have dilemmas – some small, some large. Whatever those are, they will help us heal, evolve, and grow, if we let them.