Yesterday we had some friends over and we were all sitting around the yurt relaxing, kind of observing with humour the travelling espresso convoy that Ramona’s buddy had set up using the Playmobil. But, as things can sometimes do, it unravelled a bit and he got frustrated and a bit stuck in his play and Ramona really helpfully dived in, grabbed the vehicles and shoved them behind the bed. As you can imagine, he was, erm, upset.
“Mona!” I exclaimed, sort of in shock that she was so able to do the very, very thing that would make her friend see red. Ramona stood boldly in front of him and gave a little preach about how she thinks he should play. His mum, ever loving and wise, observed outloud how Ramona was trying to create a space to talk about what was going on for him, perhaps get some perspective and move through the frustrating part of the game. Sure enough, once Ramona had delivered her sermon she retrieved the vans and gave them back to her friend.
It wasn’t all solved (no one really likes a sermon) but after a little while the game moved on. Ramona really did just want to see her friend happy again.
It was a perfect example of something I’ve been thinking about almost constantly this couple of weeks, about how important it is to assume the best of our children. How much they need to feel held in a good light. It is such a simple phrase, but it was the one phrase that keeps pinging around my mind after a seminar with Genevieve Simperingham on Peaceful Parenting. The idea that our starting point is always to assume the best of our children.
It’s not easy to do when so many of our words around children are so polarised (are they good or bad?) or just negative (naughty, mischievous, deviant) and we have such a prevalent view that children are by nature selfish. (That one comes up all the time in my comment section – but it simply isn’t true. Yes, they are instinctively focused on their own needs, but I am blown away all the time at their selflessness and generosity.)
If we go through our days holding our children in a good light the whole day takes on a better hue. It’s not about spin doctoring, simply changing the way we speak about children (although that helps greatly – for example, changing “bossy” to “leadership skills”) but about changing our whole perspective on childhood! We must believe in our children’s goodness and give them the opportunity to reveal that goodness.
If we wait to see what they were hoping to achieve, rather than jumping in to halt their unhelpful action. If we see their good intentions and then talk about ways they could have executed them. Trust them. Seek to understand them. Show empathy.
A few times in my life I have found myself in a tangle with someone. It’s felt like they have misunderstood me, like they always take my actions the wrong way, like I have to constantly explain myself or tiptoe around them, I’m left groaning in my mind knowing how they would have interpreted something. And, what sometimes happens is that, because I am feeling so stink, I start to act defensively, and my mind bubbles up with stinkness.
It is oppressive, feeling this way around someone. It crushes our journey of self-love. It isn’t living. It is no way to live.
And yet I think a lot of children have to live this way simply because of our parenting. They have adults in their lives who think they are selfish, naughty, attention seeking, destructive. And when their behaviour is seen this way, they then get in a spiral of it, and they are disconnected and not themselves and can’t really think they are loveable, by their own selves, or their parents.
Really, I think all we all really want is to be held in a good light. Our greatest friends are the ones who really know us, the ones we never have to sensor our words with. The family members we want to hang out with are the ones who have faith in our decision making. We move like magnets towards the people that make us shine.
I want my children to catch me looking at them with love and understanding in my eyeballs. I don’t want them to detect disappointment in my voice – frustration, perhaps, yes, because I want to be authentic! I want my tone to be an empathetic one. I want them to feel good and understood. I want them to know that I know their hearts are good! I want them to shine when we are together.