Yesterday a woman approached me within frustration, sadness and tiredness as she was looking at point in which she was considering no longer continuing a relationship with her boyfriend because she has been unable to ‘make a connection’ with the boyfriend’s son. From here, I’ll be referring to her as ‘SH’, provide some background information, and offer a detailed description of how the conversation was directed within a practical, responsible solution.
SH is a divorced mom that lives with her boyfriend – her high school ‘sweetheart’ with whom she reconnected with after her divorce. The boyfriend has a son who is 13 years old whom he shares custody with his ex-wife. The boyfriend’s son does not want to participate within the family activities inside nor outside of SH’s home – he prefers to sit at home, within his own space, play video games, stay up all night, and get up late in the day. SH does not ‘like’ the son’s lifestyle preferences because she sees her lifestyle preference of getting up early, doing something ‘active’, and being with the family as ‘what is right’. When she forces the son out of his space and makes him participate in family activities, she sees that becomes more and more distant. Also, when this happens, her boyfriend’s ex-wife will call and communicate anger and disgust at SH’s attempt to ‘make him [the son] do anything that he does not want to do’.
SH is confused and does not understand why it has to be this way as she sees her own son as getting along great with her boyfriend.
SH has been living within this situation for the few months that I have known her and I can see that it’s ‘weighing’ on her within the way that she holds her body in a tired and heavy way. She is also often lost in thought. I can relate to and identify this body language clearly within myself because I have been here many times myself where I am at the point of ‘having enough’ and desiring to be done with it all – one way or another.
The solution I communicated to SH was within the starting point of directing oneself back to oneself as this is what has proven to work for me time and time again. I ask myself questions: Where am I within this? Why, exactly, am I angry at this child? Why is it that I expect this child to become me and be interested in participating in the same activities as myself? Why am I blaming this one person for all that is ‘wrong’ in my life? What is it that I’m not facing about myself? What is this child showing me about myself that I am not being honest with myself about – what don’t I want to see?
None of us can argue with the point that children are closer to their real selves than adults as they have less of a history within this world and having to ‘fit in’ here. It is us, as adults, that are messed up and we force our children to become as messed up as we are because we want them to be ‘like us’. It is us, as adults, that have created many different selves for many different situations and/or events so that we can ensure our survival within the system. The facts are: Children are closer to their real selves than adults are and children are here to teach us and show us who we really are. We, as parents, teachers, and guardians of children have a responsibility within the realization that we are not here to teach children but that they are here to teach us.
How is it that we can learn from our children?
- We become equal to them. We no longer place ourselves in a position of superiority nor inferiority within our relationships with children. We stop policing our children so that they may have the opportunity to express themselves. We, as adults, are not cool with being ‘told what to do’ or being made to participate within specific activities that do not interest us and within that, we offer the same and equal respect of ourselves as ourselves to our children within their honest communication of themselves, their interests, and their lives. We no longer force them to become us.
- We educate ourselves to express ourselves so that we can communicate effectively and honestly with others outside of ourselves and thus teach our children expression as a living example. Specifically looking at ‘swear words’, we realize and see through our experiences with swearing that it’s FUCKING AWESOME to express ourselves within these pure words and yet, we punish our children when they express them? This makes no sense … Why are we doing this? So that a child does not ‘offend’ another adult, a ‘respected’ family member, or a school teacher? We are afraid of how it will make us ‘look’ as parents and/or guardians within our community if our children express themselves openly without fear of punishment? The truth is, the way we currently exist, we are suppressing our children by not allowing them to express themselves and we are allowing ourselves to be suppressed by others outside of ourselves because of fear. This is abuse. Abuse of ourselves that we pass on to our children. It must stop. It is our ‘duty’ to our children to learn how to express ourselves through writing and investigation of ourselves so that we can share ourselves with our children and thus show them, via language, how to share themselves with us.
- We allow them to make mistakes. We allow them to face themselves within the consequences of their choices. Within our understanding that children are equal, one, and the same as us, we see that they must face all that we face. Within SH’s experience of her boyfriend’s son wanting to play video games throughout the night and not participate with family activities, then he, like the rest of us, will have to live the consequences of these ‘choices’.
- We take ownership of ourselves and allow our children to take ownership of themselves. I am mine, you are yours. I am taking responsibility for myself for what I’ve accepted and allowed, I am stopping the blame, the anger, and the reactions – I am here, showing you, via my words and actions, that it is possible for you to do the same. Being a living example is the best starting point we can give to our children. So, stop focusing on the child and everything that he is ‘doing wrong’ and bring the focus back to yourself and be honest with yourself about what is ‘wrong’ and why you’re seeing it that way. Once we are clear of these unreal expectations, we are then able to be effective with our children.
We know this. It is common sense. Now, let’s walk it.