There are many things that fascinate me. Human behavior is one of them. The brain, how we protect ourselves from danger, how we sometimes don’t listen to our gut, and instead rely on the past or our own lens, to make decisions.
Recently I saw the movie “Fences”. I really enjoyed it, some did not. I enjoyed it not because it was Denzel Washington, although he was the driving force behind me going to see it, but even more important was the underlying themes it left me with.
Without ruining it for those who have not seen it, there were themes of “fences” that we build–some to keep things in, and some to keep things out. As a parent your duties include but are not limited to raising, serving, and protecting your children. The movie also outlined the powerful relationship between parent and child, specifically son and father. It was an incredibly intense relationship, as they often are.
Sometimes I think we forget that in our protection, we at times need to protect ourselves from ourselves, and not pass “our stuff” on to our children.
Each experience we have is part of a puzzle, a journey, some of them dramatic, some of them every day ho hum, but they all stand to create a pattern and path to ultimately who and what we become as parents and families.
In my work, I have seen my share of transference. I have seen even the best of parents shed their “stuff” on their children. Not because they are trying to hold them back, not in a mean or disingenuous way, but because of the “fences” they have unknowingly created to protect, so that their own kin don’t go through what they did. Or they want so much better for them that they go to great lengths to save them from any kind of bump, blip, or off road moment.
As of late there have been many articles and research done on this subject, entitled “What Successful Kids Need Most”, “Hovering Helicopter Parents”, “How To Raise Resilient Kids”, etc.
I keep circling back to the same theme in my mind that goes along with these articles….teaching kids to listen to their intuition, and teaching parents to let some things go, to let the failures and mistakes happen.
We were not born with inner radar, flashing burning ember lights in the bottom of our stomach to ignore them. We are innately wired with this “gut” instinct, it would behoove us to listen to it ourselves and to model how to for our children. And as parents part of guidance is to mentor, coach, and to sometimes step back and let things just play out, even if it means watching our children struggle.
Over the years, I am reminded of the one liners thrown my way by caring souls in my tribe that ever so gently reminded me of this….
” The only thing that should surprise you, is that you are surprised”, a la my beautiful sister, Christy.
“Where there is a whisper, there is a scream”, from my smart and sassy friend, Lisa.
“Katey, watching you try to make this decision is like you are standing in the burning house and your hair is on fire, and you are saying to me “Something smells like smoke”….stop, drop, and roll…out.” from an anonymous source 🙂
“When you go to the refrigerator and smell the milk and it is a little funky, don’t go back and smell it again after you put it back, it is still spoiled”….from my funny friend, John.
What is it that we think we can rationalize with intuition? It is insanely accurate from protecting us from all sorts of things. Like a fence, it is almost always 100% steady and sturdy, and dead on. Gavin DeBecker wrote an amazing book called “The Gift of Fear” and in it he outlines the unyielding power of intuition from a personal safety standpoint for children and adults. Listening and watching for signals of success and failure are critical for both children and adults.
It would behoove us to examine our own “fences” during the first month of the year and to figure out how to continue to build the right ones. Up and over. As my Mom says, “Always listen to your gut”, and in times of success and failure, “Look for the helpers”.