Real Relationship Advice
As a therapist, I view life a little skewed. I see obstacles or people who annoy me as opportunities for personal growth and bad days as challenges to find what the deeper meaning is. This is not to be confused with being a Pollyanna, wearing rose colored glasses. It is much like the idea of searching for the silver lining.
Having kids is a great opportunity for personal development. Kids are a great mirror to show us how others perceive us. Our kids do not just have a genetic link to us but also are a great projection of our personality. Yes, that same personality where we like some parts and cringe at others. A great example of this is our friend Jessica Rosenberg from It’s Jessica’s Life. She says, “I knew I was in trouble when my kid crossed her arms, looked up at me and said ‘you can’t MAKE me tell her’ when I told her I was going to make her explain to her teacher how she lost her book. She is 5. Parenting your mini-me is a bitch every day because you constantly want to strangle her and give her mental ‘you go girl’ high fives. Sigh.”
Sometimes those very things about our kids that we butt heads on are the very parts of our own personality that we don’t necessarily like. For example, few parents like stubborn children but the reality is that that stubborness comes from somewhere. They witnessed it and have seen that it works for Mom/Dad! It becomes a battle of wills. Your offspring is acting just like you. Here lies the opportunity; dealing with your miniature doppelganger is a true test of growth!
Trust me, I have three kids; two biological and one adopted. The adopted child says things that I swear are verbatim silly things I have said in the past. My boys are a strange amalgam of me and Paul. All three have a way of showing us on a daily basis the ways of being we are currently working on. For example: Our middle child is extremely bright. No, this isn’t parent folly, he has been tested. Recently we noticed that his multiplication tables were lacking. He could do some with difficulty but did not have them memorized. Since he is already past that in Math and is studying probability in the third grade, we suggested he take some time every day and brush up on his multiplications. His reaction was to cry. Why the tears? He thinks he should know everything by now. He feels he is failing.
Now, I don’t know about you but perfectionism is a nasty virus in our home and we need to remind each other almost like sober coaches to let things go. Excellence is not perfection. His behavior and reaction to needing to ‘slow down’ was seen and felt like a failure. Perfect people don’t slow down! Now, in the case of this certain dysfunction, I take the lead because this reeks of me. The need for speed and winning is a Mommy issue, so Daddy is spared (unless he comes up with ‘I’m not doing enough’ then it’s all Paul).
So, yeah, the blessing of a child is not just the smiles and frustrations but also the challenges to our own ways of being. Kids: they keep us awake at night, exhausted throughout the day running around and then thinking constantly about how we are failing them or not being enough. Isn’t parenting fun!