Accepting Children As They Are, Not As We’d Like Them To Be

I’m reading a book called Everyday Blessings:  The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn.  I may post more on it later, but one chapter really struck me, and I couldn’t wait to discuss it.

The book opens with three main points early on:  sovereignty, empathy, and acceptance.  They say that children yearn for all three of these things, even when they’re acting their most unreasonable.  My husband and I don’t have children yet, but we both have taught in public schools, and we’re in the thinking-about-it stage of trying to conceive.  The quality that has stuck with me is acceptance.  One of the things that concerns me is whether or not I have the ability to accept my children as who they are, especially when I’m unhappy with their choices.

I feel that in so many ways, I have let my family down by not being who they wanted me to be.  My mother wanted me to be popular and pretty and her best friend.  I was a dismal failure at being popular in high school, I was pretty enough, but it didn’t really get me anywhere, and I am so different from my mother we struggle to even hold a conversation without hurt feelings.  My grandmother, on the other hand, cannot seem to accept that I’m a very different person than I was at ten years old.  To her, I was a sweet, timid kid, who tried very hard to please.  She’s not sure what to do with the woman I grew into:  strong, smart, and opinionated.  I’m not at all sad that I didn’t grow up into a sweet, timid woman–had I done so, I’m sure I’d currently be a doormat.  But she’ll sniff and talk about what a wonderful child I was, and how she knows that inside, I’m still the same good girl.  I know that she doesn’t see me, can’t really understand me, and it hurts.

So how do I, as a parent, break this cycle?  How do I make my children feel heard and appreciated for who they are, even if who they are is not who I dreamed they would be?  I do not mean to imply that I would condone anything my children do–of course I would voice concern over illegal activity or reckless behavior.  But I wouldn’t stop loving my children, and I would want them to know that no matter how much of the world turns against them, they still have a mother who loves them and sees them.  I know the moments when it matters most–when a child is tired and frustrated and lashing out at the world–are the moments where it is hardest to keep perspective.  Those moments can make or break relationships, and I worry about my ability to navigate them, to not try to impose my judgement.  I know myself well enough to know that I can be critical and overbearing–exactly the qualities that drive me crazy in my mother and grandmother.  Is this something I can change?  The Kabat-Zinn’s recommend a formal meditation practice, and I think perhaps I should try to learn more about the process of meditating, and what kind of practice would work for me.

Advertisements

About Wild Song

Me, stripped bare.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s