Dare you ask?

Aug, 11, 2021
Would you want to know how your child finds you as a parent and what your partner feels about you as a partner? 

Few things are easier than pointing out the various ways that our partner fails to meet our expectations and how our child’s attitude feels unreasonable. It can feel far more daunting to consider how we might come across as a parent and partner to the people who spend the most time with us. For many of us, this way of seeing ourselves, –  as if we were an observer is not something we have a lot of practice doing.
Perhaps, growing up, this kind of self-reflection wasn’t encouraged or it felt too unsafe to expose our vulnerabilities in this way. 

But I invite you to ask your children to tell you if they were to sum you up as a mum / dad in 3 words – what would they say?!

If we are committed to our own growth as parents and want to have more connection and openness in our relationships – getting curious and being open to seeing ourselves through the eyes of our children is crucial.

When parents come to me for support with difficult dynamics in the family – I often ask questions such as:
 “How do you imagine your child experiences you in this moment?””If you saw yourself projected onto a screen in that moment – what would you see / hear”?”What do you think your child thinks is most important to you by how you are as a parent?”
And the answers often surprise. 
The story we carry of ourselves is far from always aligned with HOW we actually act in our families.

I know – because I asked my own children the other day – and their answer left me both pleased and a little defensive; 

“You are very  funny” – they started

“And you are also annoying”!!!

“What??!” I wanted to ask – keen to jump to my own defence. But instead I encouraged them to tell me more. 

As it turns out they find my incessive reminders about no outdoor shoes in the house to be so annoying – and as my six year old put it;

“We don’t need to be so posh”

This feedback is at odds with how I like to see myself as a mum. In fact, it reminds me a little too much of the very thing that used to annoy me about my own mum. I am, of course, not suggesting that I am unreasonable in upholding a house rule. Yet, having had a fair amount of social gatherings around our house in the past month I have found it important to keep the house presentable and old conditioned values from my childhood have at times run me. 

This is what happens when I put outcome over process. 
When my need for control takes over and I behave as if those I love the most are a nuisance.
Perhaps you recognise this tendency from your own life!?

Few people in our lives are able to highlight the simple fact better than our children, that: 

Love is an action. Love is a verb. That is reflected in our priorities, our tone of voice and our reactions. 

If we dare checking out whether our loving intentions are in fact felt as loving – with our children and our partner – we stand to gain so much. The point is never to shame and guilt yourself. 
The point is to increase connection. And set a prime example for our children of how to receive feedback in a constructive way. 

Dare you ask your loved ones?

Louise Brooks

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