Recently I’ve been pondering how much harder we make everything by assuming that we know best, and our children need protecting from themselves.
I’m not sure how we got here. How did we get to a place where our initial reaction to what our children tell us, is often suspicion? Or rebuttal.
In a recent online conversation, a parent wrote this to me about her son:
“My job, I feel, is to encourage him. Build his confidence, not push his boundaries, therefore I practise believing him and believing in him. Who am I to break his dreams, fantasies and ponderings? What if he’s right and a Zombie apocalypse is nigh and we should prepare? What if his fear is justified? His pain is real and his worries make him stop still.
Superheroes are real and he has always practised for the day that he becomes Spiderman (literally, hours have been spent looking for the hole in his wrist from where the spider web will shoot out from).
What if he’s right?
If I say yes as much as possible he discovers his own no(s).”
It really got me thinking. I mean, okay, a Zombie apocalypse is probably unlikely, but it made me stop and consider how many times children try to tell us something true about themselves. How they feel, what works for them, what stops them being able to take in information, how they learn best, what hurts them, how they can get over that hurt - and how often we dismiss that, in the mistaken belief that we know best. Yes, we’ve been around for longer, and we have more experiences to draw on, and that’s valuable, but we are not them. They know themselves best, and perhaps we can find a way of working together to give a more truthful and effective outcome.
In a really similar vein, I then read this article in the Guardian newspaper, about a young girl coping with the death of her mother by making 'Cardboard Mummy' :
In the closing paragraphs, the author states, “In those dark moments when you worry about your child, maybe you should believe in them more and worry less. Trust them. They have their ways. Even at six. They are resourceful beyond their years. They are great survivors.”
I am hoping that perhaps these two things are a sign of a change in the tide, that we grown-ups might just be starting to have a little bit more faith in our youngsters. I think it would make us all a lot happier.