How to dig for the gold in your child
It is vital for the child to feel loved. To feel known and totally accepted.
However, let’s be real. There are kids we feel challenged to give them exactly that from the depths of our hearts.
Because they are difficult for us to understand, as they are so different than we were. Or because they are just so much the same and we haven’t made peace with ourselves. Or they remind us of a loved one who is not in our lives any more (through divorce, death, etc.)
Maybe your child is just challenging your authority all day long and all you get to hear from them is “NO”…
Or like me, you wanted a real girl with pink, glimmer, dresses, who is playing dolls all day long… And your girl rather prefers red and orange, prefers the superhero dress over the beautiful princess apparel you buy her and doesn’t play with dolls.
Or have you dreamed of a future for your kid and it turns out that your loved one is not interested in it at all? (You wanted a professional football player, a big strong quarterback … And you have a small tiny boy who rather wants to dance ballet or do gymnastics? Or a child that is great in academics, intellectual that will one day walk in your steps of university and you got a “real outdoor-adventure” child who rather is outside all day long?
If you have a child like that, I feel you. I understand the struggle.
However, let me tell you, there is hope for your relationship with that child.
Because the deepest need of a child is to be loved. To have a place to belong and to be known for who it really is.
And you as his family have this unique challenge and privilege to be that place.
Dependent on your culture, your religious beliefs, your level of maturity (or of healing from your own past) you might handle this very differently, you may even have a strong conviction about it.
As a family we came up with our own experience and understanding about it. Here I will share what helped us with the fallowing three points:
1. Being honest with myself. What is it that triggers me? Mostly I have to admit that it’s not the child’s problem – it’s mine and I have to deal with it. Like I said with my girl – my only girl beside her three brothers- who doesn’t want to wear the dresses I buy her or rejects my princess-socks I gave her to put on.
And really… That’s my problem, isn’t it?
Or my oldest who turned out so much like his father (I can’t imagine what would be if I would get hurt by his dad on a regular basis, or even going through a divorce – this would be sooo difficult to handle!) However, in my case I can just smile, love him in this specific similarity from his father side and ask Benny (my husband) what he would have needed as a child in that situation. And so many times, we got an easy answer that made my son feel loved just as he was.
2. Being humble enough to find out the blueprint of my child. Many of us as parents have our dreams what we want our child to become one day. Maybe you run your own business or a farm and want him/her to take over one day. Or you want it to study and “become something”. However, children do have self-awareness of who they were designed to be. And our part as parents is to help the child to become it. There is nothing more beautiful as a seeing the child enter into what it is really made for.
That means, to let go of our plan for the child. To invest time and effort to understand how you can help your child to be good at what it is meant to become.
3. I never settle for an easy answer. A child wants to be known and loved for its uniqueness. And we often tend to “help” ourselves in understanding our child by settling for an easy explanation: “you know, my Child has ADHD (or is hypersensitive or is a strong willed child) – that’s why it’s the way it is… Don’t do that. Defining your child in such a way will hinder you to really find the gold. It may help you be more patient with your difficult child… but it doesn’t help in the connection, the genuine understanding of who the child is. A few years ago our girl was pretty independent and defiant with us, being only about three years old. I first thought that probably it is just the way she is… but Benny didn’t settle for it. He gave a try for a special treatment: excessively quality time, laughing together, investing and caring and constantly telling her that he loves her – and about three months later we had a completely changed girl: involved with us as family, we seldom got a “no” from her and she became a very caring sister for her siblings and a happy family member.
I’m so glad we did that experiment. If we would have just assumed that this is the way she is and maybe even tried to punish her defiant attitude… we would have never had the privilege to experience such a different girl.