(Original post: 8/14/13)
Earlier this week I watched as my two boys got in the car (my older one driving) and headed to their first day of high school together. This year my older son is a junior (hard to believe!) and my younger son is a freshman. The first day of school is still a reflective time for me. I stood on the porch waving and wondering that old cliché, “where did the time go?” My heart was full of pride for the awesome young men they are becoming. I also got in touch with the gratitude and pride I feel for myself that I’ve done the work (and it was damn hard at times!) to nurture and grow relationships with them built on mutual respect and trust.
When you have an especially challenging child (like my older son), it can take an incredibly long time to see the results. Often, parents lose faith that anything is working. There have been so many times I wanted to throw in the towel because I lost my confidence that I was doing the right thing. There have been times over the years when it was just a hopeless mess. Yet, I was committed to grow my consciousness and skills in order to lovingly parent my challenging child. I knew in my heart I wanted to parent in a way that honored and accepted him just the way he is.
He is almost 17 now and I feel I can finally exhale. The relationship is intact. We’re talking. He’s sharing. He’s even listening sometimes. We often enjoy each other. Everything is going to be okay. (Deep breath) I feel confident I did the right thing by shifting the way I was parenting him, even though it felt like swimming upstream the whole way (because our culture isn’t very good at supporting conscious parenting). I am starting to see the fruits of my labor and I am so glad I didn’t shrink back and didn’t throw in the towel.
Can You Relate?
If you have a challenging child you’re raising, hang in there! When you’re in the midst of the day in and day out struggles, it may seem that there is no end in sight. You may tell yourself many times a day, “Parenting shouldn’t be this hard!”
But know, please know, that you are doing holy work.
You are supporting and nurturing a child who needs that extra love and acceptance. Who will stretch you so far outside your growing edges that you can never shrink back to your earlier dimensions. Stay committed to practice being a calm loving presence for your child and one day, I promise you, you’ll find you’re on the other side. You’ve made it through. Everything is going to be okay. Bring a bushel and start picking the sweet fruits of your labor.
♥♥♥ LOVE IN ACTION ♥♥♥
The way we interact and communicate with our children often determines whether or not the door to communication stays open. Begin to notice those moments when you sense your child has “shut the door” on communication and try to remember what you said or did immediately prior to that. Often our tone of voice or our choice of words comes across as criticizing, judging, or blaming. These are sure-fire ways to bring up defensiveness and cause the door to shut. If we want to keep the door to communication open, it’s up to us as parents to communicate in ways that invite openness, nonjudgment, acceptance, and collaboration.