We are not hovering over our children. We are not spoiling our children. We are trying as hard and as best we can to love and care for them. Period.
We do not need “help” changing what we do for our children so they will feel better, be stronger, or act differently. We need help understanding them. Hearing everything we’re apparently doing wrong is just demoralizing. And confusing.
Every child has problems, and every parent struggles with how to be a better parent. That’s the place to start. Families that don’t have problems or struggle to be better, don’t grow. We are right where we should be.
So stop solving and start evolving, by starting right where you are. Don’t move so fast to “fix” it. We have all this amazing capacity for awareness of what we feel, and we are not afraid to expose and talk about what we’re feeling. Let’s take advantage of this huge improvement we have made over past generations, and do something great with it – delve deeper and get to understand what’s really going in.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Whatever the problem, start there.
Maybe your child is afraid of something (or not afraid enough of something else.) Or maybe your child is anxious, or sad, or self-doubting. Or – and this one’s hard: not meeting expectations. Whatever the problem is, know that if it isn’t about putting food on the table, having enough money for a movie, or dealing with a terminal illness, it’s a good problem to have. Because we grow from problems that aren’t life-threatening. We’re going to stop solving and start evolving.
2. Stay with the problem.
Don’t move away from your child’s problem so fast or try to get rid of it as quickly as possible. I know, it’s hard. But this problem is your friend. It’s going to teach you about your child, yourself, your family history, and where you want to go in the future. Don’t push it away. Delve into it.
3. Start talking
You need to delve as deeply into this problem as you can, which means talking about it a lot, which will help you sort things out. There is a reason for why this is happening, and that’s what you need to find out.
4. Don’t look for solutions, look for questions
And by the way, if you’re talking to someone about what’s going on, make sure they don’t go into “fix it” mode. Finding questions can be as simple as “why?” What will help you the most in searching for questions, is feeling understood. So stop looking for solutions, advice, and to be “fixed.” Searh instead to feel understood. Period. This is what will get you to the next good question.
5. Have faith that things will get better.
You can’t always know what to do. And no expert in this world can tell you what is right for you, your child, your family, the future. We can’t possibly expect to understand everything about our situation immediately, and we forget that getting to know ourselves and our children requires time. But without immediate answers and solutions, be prepared to feel confused, inadequate, and even hopeless. Having faith that things will get better should help to get you through long periods of not-knowing.
6. Psych yourself up for exploration
Remember that what is so exciting about having problems is the potential to discover new things about ourselves and our families.
We spoil and hover over our children because we want to protect them. We don’t want them to have problems, and we don’t want them to feel bad. That’s good. So don’t worry about that. That’s love.
But as you spoil and hover, do something else as well. Stay with a problem, tolerating the confusion and emotional unpleasantness long enough to find some questions. Talk about what’s going on, but not for “fixing.” Have faith that you can scratch beneath the surface of any problem if you try, and most of all, remember this: problems can be what make life great. They are just the thing to really take you places if you’ll only let them.
Discover more about Claudia’s parenting workshops.