Do we spend enough time thinking about how our words can impact our children? Inaction can be as harrowing and painful as action, the lack of attention, the unwilling arm of comfort in the dark can be as damaging the hand that strikes in anger… Do we honestly believe that our children can’t hear us, can't feel us, can’t understand us? As we age we become hardened in the context of our emotional intelligence, but then later in life we seek out those professionals who can help us re-engage our connection back to our emotional intelligent self, but when was that connection severed, damaged and set a drift? Most likely in our teenage years, that is when we started to build our amour, our protective walls. Back when we first sensed a sliver of darkness slowly sliping through the light, that light which we felt would be omnipresent, but instead it started to fade little and flicker - we needed to prepare future battles ahead.
In contrast our children are still very much awake, basking in the light, their emotions are lit, they are deeply connected to their sense of self, their need for love, their need for protection and deep desire to know that they truly matter. It is foolhardy to just dismiss them as kids, to simply believe they aren’t listening, that they are not noticing our squabbling, our anger, or our displeasure toward each other. Within the universe of a child under the age of sixteen the greatest gravitational pull still comes from their parental planets. When there is turbulence on, or within, these planets there is simply no hiding this disturbance from these raw emotional souls. They are more plugged into the grid of human emotion than most adults could ever hope to find in a decade of soul searching, therapy and wellness retreats.
We have an incredibly finite amount of time to craft a positive relationship and to build a lasting connection. Our children need to be nurtured in order to develop a strong sense of self and an innate feeling of love, without conditionality. Each day that we deviate from this path adds a darkened blot onto their copybook of security, self-confidence and love. Each blot will be a slow step away from you as their parent. Initial pace of change is incredibly slow (their basic instinct is to stay close to the parent), but a coldness will start to permeate the relationship, always lurking like an ominous shadow, ready to fill your soul with darkness. Your children will always make decisions based on what is in their best interests, they are born with an ability to survive with or without you, the human survival instinct. If a relationship with their parent is overly burdensome, limiting in love, lacking in hugs or punctuated with broken promises, then your futures will be crafted out of this tragic state. Your children will find their feet, they will rise, they will find their place in the world, but they will do so without having to carry your shit with them. They always have a choice, stay with the pain and let it eat away, or cut it deeply from within, purge the pain, tear out this cancer and forge their own path.
Disturbing, but not the only path.
What does all this mean? To my mind it is all quite simple, we must realise that our kids can hear our anger, see our depression, feel our sadness, sense the fractures within our soul’s and our relationships. Who’s fault is this? Who should be taking responsibility? How do I change all this? This is the simple part, it is time to accept your place in this world (in their world), it is time to work on your darker edges. You can only truly give of yourself once you decide to surrender to yourself. You can hide from your demons, medicate at ‘Wine O’Clock’, blame everyone else for your misery, or you can shake yourself and step up to the plate. The good news is that it is never too late to step up to the plate, even if your children are now adults, just step up and start working on yourself today, they will respect you.
In the end we can all seek forgiveness and we can all forgive. The question now is simple, is it time for you to reach out a hand and seek forgiveness?
I suffered as a child, so I choose to stay connected as an adult, I choose love and affection toward my son over distraction and resentment. Which path would you rather take? Don’t allow history to repeat itself, because if you fall asleep it will……
Lilly Allen singing Somewhere Only We Know paints this picture so well.
Happy New Year.