Parenting: To be held in a good light

17 November, 2015

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.

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  • Sunshine 17 November, 2015 at 8:32 pm


    You really captured it here. To be seen in the shadows is a sure way to start to lose yourself to them. It’s as if we forget that children are innocents. We corrupt this in them. It’s so worth betting on the “benefit” rather than the “doubt”. I have always wondered why adults do this and promote this towards their children. I still do. It’s perplexing. I am perplexed.

  • Jess Rado 17 November, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    Nicely said Lucy. Don’t think it would have occurred to me to think of children (as a ‘category’) as being selfish? Naturally or not? I’m pretty sure all the ones I know are super in tune and sensitive to everything going on around them. Cracks me up (not in the best way) that this is a ‘view’ that’s out there? Phew. Note to self: mustn’t write a blog, you learn far too much about some very dodgy opinions! Oh yeah, that’s right, I can’t stick at writing long enough to finish a comment let alone a ….

  • Exsugarbabe 17 November, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    I love this way of thinking about children, it’s very different and true. We think 5 year olds have enough time and experience to be sinister little minsters it’s just how should they know any better? So yes they need guidance and boundaries but harshness, and we need to not see them as good or bad but just people.

  • Uniquity 18 November, 2015 at 5:51 am

    This is a bit rambly, sorry!

    I think humans are a little bit selfish, out of a mix of evolutionary necessity and also some social constructs. I live in my house, not you – that sort of thing. Children though? I think they “share” better than adults. I think they do so many things better than adults. They live in their bodies and feel their feelings and are emphatically themselves. We learn not to do these things over the years, and then are so shocked to see them being themselves. Perhaps a little jealousy from the ‘adult’?

    To your story of Ramona and her friend – I likely would have reacted differently if only because I wouldn’t want to see the friend’s wishes being trampled BUT I don’t think that’s selfishness. Children are the first to share a cracker, a treat, a joke, a beautiful thing. All they do is show us and each other these wonderful things. They just don’t always do a back-and-forth exchange perfectly. Nor should they. Adults talk over each other all the time, but instead of telling someone to shush or wait, we tend to fall quiet until we get a chance. But put me with friends? We’re all talking over each other all day, and understanding it all too. 🙂

  • ThaliaKR 18 November, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Lovely. Thank you.

  • Megan 18 November, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for being so inspiring!
    You are such a great writer that you have that unique touch where the reader feels inspired instead of condemned.
    I’m waiting for the day you announce that you have turned your little spot of paradise into a farm stay where we can come and luxuriate in slow paced life and have a bit of parenting coaching too 😉
    Your blog is changing the world, or at least the world in my little house.

    • Lucy 18 November, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      It already is- come over!

    • Lucy 18 November, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      And thanks for your kind words 🙂

  • Susanna 18 November, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Great post. It’s really a life philosophy, and one the whole world would benefit from. x

  • Elizabeth 19 November, 2015 at 5:24 am

    “they need to feel held in a good light” wise words that I needed reminding of, especially in this time, where I and my four year old are getting quite frustrated with each other.

    thank you Lucy!

  • Emma 20 November, 2015 at 2:02 am

    Just what I needed! I’m hungry for parenting advice at the moment (I actually wrote about it on my blog recently). This is particularly good advice.

  • Carie 20 November, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    What a beautiful post, and it’s true, it’s how we would want to be treated as an adult so it’s do as you would be done by – which we try to make our family’s guiding principle, try being the operative word!

  • Natalie 5 December, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Absolutely beautifully written post Lucy. I think it can be so tough some times when parenting can become quite intense (mama to three under just 5, and expecting baby number four in April!) but I do believe in this. After an epic melt down from one of them, I do try to see it from their angle, and empathise with them. I get it wrong sometimes but don’t we all? I get people saying all the time at how am I so patient in say, a melt down but then I do always try to see it from their point aside from my frustration as it may be causing an inconvenience.

    I love what you’ve written here though and I will continue to do this with my littles, because they are wonderful, and amazing souls. And are so aware of this too which is maybe why they are quite ballsy .

    Love your posts, they always inspire me to remain a calm parent even in those extreme situations of baby oil rubbed into their heads for fun apparently (takes weeks to get out!!) or when dinner time turns into witching hour!

    Hope this makes sense.

    N xx

  • Natalie 5 December, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Oh I was going to add. That I do find it hard though when in laws try to have their say, and can be very old fashioned in ways and tell us we’re being ‘too soft’ – infuriating. X

  • Helen 16 December, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Its so true I see it everyday watching my 2 year old daughter & my 14 year old son , they do get on each others nerve but they are so good together it is an absolute wonder & blessing