I have two kids. One is a mini version of me now. One is a mini version of me then.
My son has many of the traits that I have worked so hard to overcome.
The perfectionism. The rigidity. The anxiety and worry.
He’s hard on himself. He’s hard on others.
He takes things so seriously.
He internalizes. He absorbs.
He keeps it all in, or he explodes.
He’s controlling. He can be unforgiving.
He hates change. He holds himself back. He lets fear rule.
He’s so much more than that and many, many wonderful things, but these are the things I struggle with.
My heart sometimes breaks for him.
I want better for him.
I want to set him on my journey now so he doesn’t have to live with it all for too long.
I want to make it better for him.
I try to make it better for him.
But, one day, I had a thought...
I want to be accepted as I am. In trying to “make it better,” I am not accepting him as he is.
That was a hard pill to swallow, realizing I was being so hypocritical.
I vowed then to stop projecting my issues on him. He is not me. He is him. He will figure it out, and I will be there to help him if he wants me to.
He will have his own unique set of experiences. What hurt me may help him. My weaknesses may be his superpowers. Or, he may end up like I did, wanting different for himself. If he does, he does. I made it. He will too. And he will have the benefit of my acceptance and unconditional support.
I think we generally go one of two ways. We repeat the patterns of our earlier years, or we do the opposite to compensate. Either way, we need to be careful not to project our thoughts/feelings/emotions, onto them. It’s so easy to do. We are, in large part, the sum of our experiences. They have molded how we think, feel, and act. Of course that will come into play in our parenting. How could it not?
We can think about what we want. How we feel. What we need.
Then we can end that conversation with ourselves and ask them what they want.
How do they feel?
What do they need?
We can ask questions. We can be brave enough to get it straight from the source.
We can be vulnerable enough to show them that we don’t have all the answers, and we look to them as much as they look to us.
“How can I support you? What do you need from me?”
We can show them respect.
We can treat them like a person and trust that they know what they need.
Maybe they don’t know, yet, what they need.
If they don’t, we can give them space and time to figure it out and let them know that we are here and willing to do what we can to help them, how they want to be helped, when they are ready.
Can you imagine what that would feel like? Not needing to have the answers now but knowing that, once you do, you will have support. I imagine it feels like unconditional love. True unconditional love.
Until next time...