The day following Thanksgiving is National Day of Listening, created by StoryCorps. My thoughts went to how I have not Heard as well as I wanted to the pain my tween has been experiencing. I’d like to share with you my thoughts on what a lack of Awareness and Listening can lead to. To borrow a phrase from an acquaintance, “May it be of benefit.”
The world does not work the way we think it does.
Or, at least what we have been convinced it SHOULD work like.
This includes relationships of ALL types and ages. Relationships do not work as we want to believe they will or do work.
As adults, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we create agendas or stories filled with expectations for our relationships, especially the relationships with our children as they move into their own belief systems.
Many parents/caretakers have this idea as to how their child SHOULD behave, think, feel, believe, and even what their interests are. We think we know everything there is to know about our child. Mostly, we parent in a mindset of SHOULD, sans the Intent of malice. This is how we were raised, and it seems it’s how we SHOULD parent our children. However, there is a lack of Awareness of how deeply this mindset is entrenched in OUR beliefs.
Though it may seem sudden, there comes a day when we become Aware that our youth have decided they are going to think about how the world works for THEM. They declare to know it all as the experts on life, the Universe, and everything, and, accordingly we as parents/caretakers SHOULD Hear and Understand them. And, many will claim that because we are older adults, there’s no way we can Understand what they feel, think, or believe.
They are right to an extent and it’s a normal part of their growth. While we were their age once, of course, we have had many years to leave behind our tumultuous years of tweens and teens but, they are NOT us; we are not them. We are related by blood and history, but our stories… our stories are not theirs. We are all individuals with our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, fears, phobias, memories, aspirations, and ambitions.
Unfortunately, even if we are Aware of the beautiful and unique differences, sometimes it doesn’t matter what technique or words are utilized. Nothing pleases them or makes a difference to their deep immersion into the beliefs of SHOULD. No matter how many perspectives and alternative paths are explored, the effort to Understand what they need or want seems fruitless, especially when they cannot pinpoint or verbalize what they want or need because their mental health needs immediate attention and medical care.
Love seems to not be enough or even part of the equation when the protests are expressed through violence.
A violent outburst is not the time for pausing to Understand them; that can come later. Rather, it is time to assure them you are available when they are ready to accept your assistance and ask for outside help. If you allow the violence to continue in any form, this reinforces the belief they can have their needs met (or what they believe is a need) through violence.
Asking for help with your youth is not an admission of weakness, a lack of parenting skills, guilt, or other. It’s saying you love your tween or teen and want the best life for them. It’s offering YOURSELF, tough love. It may mean doing the unthinkable, such as calling the police to get the wheel of the cumbersome mental health system moving for you and your youth.
Then, when you have established safety for both you and your youth, you can begin to explore the situation and contributing factors with the Intent to determine what the Universe is asking from you. It is possible you are being asked to explore your ambitions and aspirations of perfection; perhaps there is a need to resolve childhood trauma; maybe it’s time to let go of your SHOULDS.
Truth be told, as parents, we don’t want to hurt our children nor do we want to see them suffer, so we are reluctant when the need for accountability is presented. Excuses are made; we overreach to make sense where there is no sensibility. We may doubt our decision to ask for help, wondering if we were too hasty in our decision or overreacting to their emotions.
Stop!! No one is perfect and there are as many ways to parent as there are humans in the world. Our individuality proves this to be true. What works for one person may work for another but with a few adjustments to fit each person. But violence must not be tolerated; boundaries must be maintained; accountability for their choices must be insisted on.
The only thing I can do at the end of the day is be Impeccable. It’s not about who between us is right, but about doing what is appropriate according to my conscience. If I am wrong, it’s a lesson with a fortuitous mistake.
Sometimes Love means saying NO.
Accountability is not hurting; it’s facilitating growth and self-acceptance. Just loving them with due respect to their individuality isn’t enough. We must be tough with Self-Love and set boundaries, Acknowledge and Accept the hard reality in the case of violence, love is never enough.