Control. Do you feel yourself longing for it lately?
When life feels uncertain, we often respond by grasping for control in any way possible.
You hyperfocus on cleaning up the house.
You micromanage a project at work.
You criticize your spouse for the way they do…just about anything.
And you try to get your kid to “behave.”
The belief that we should control our children, that they need to act according to our wishes, usually comes from a deep-seated belief passed down from our own childhood. And when our kids don’t do what we think they should do, we take it personally:
They’re driving ME crazy.
They’re making ME frustrated.
They’re not listening to ME.
We’re tuned into how our kids make us feel, but what about them?
If they’re not listening to you, who are they listening to? What are they listening to? Why can’t they just do as they’re told?!?
The answer is that (just like us and everyone else) they’re listening to something inside themselves. Watch this trailer for that Pixar movie Inside Out?
Have they been silencing that sarcastic voice inside all day at school and they just can’t do it anymore?
Have they buried their own feelings so they can follow orders at school and now have they collapsed into high emotion because they can’t dismiss themselves a minute longer?
Chances are that they never learned the skill to get “bigger than what’s bugging them.” They don’t have a clue how to be connected with their feelings and be present to them in a way that communicates complete self acceptance of what is there. Not identified with them or overcome by them, and just as importantly not numb to them or oblivious to them and their inner world either!
Rumi, the Persian poet born 807 years ago expressed it so well in his poem The Guest House.
As an adult with tons of training I am still mindful to be with the feelings that arise and be attending to them like a visitor or a guest passing through. No matter what is arising internally I am interested and curious! I don’t identify with it as who I Am. The skill of Being With makes all the difference.
Once we are centered in the sense of self that is bigger than identification with any one part of us we can turn toward all of it and hear how it is feeling from it’s perspective and how it wants us to behave without giving the reins over to that part and behaving how it wants us to!
Granted, if we are merged with that part, and in essence we have collapsed into it, we may be:
- throwing a temper tantrum
- riding a scooter through the house, or
- sneaking out after curfew.
I’m suggesting you support your child to have the awareness of their inner world, to cultivate “getting bigger than what’s bugging them,” so that they can be with all the parts of themselves just as they are, with total self acceptance AND also without letting that part decide their behaviors.
With this knowledge you can see how they are separate from you. How they are navigating the outer voices in their world and their inner voices. When your child says “no” to you, they’re saying “yes” to something inside themselves. Get curious about what they are saying “yes” to inside of themselves.
Developing a sense of self is important for your kid. You want to raise a confident adult who’s able to advocate for what they need. But without the right guidance, you’ll probably default to judging what inconveniences you, and to control your child’s behavior, under the false pretense that they made you feel the way you do – which is of course ridiculous – no one makes us feel.
Every parent I’ve worked with has made the mistake of trying to control their child in some way. But you can change your behavior and transform your relationship. (And incidentally, your child will probably start listening to you more often!)
Love and blessings,
P.S. Looking for a little mid-week guidance with your conscious parenting journey? We have good news! Our resident pediatrician, Dr. Lauren Fulkerson, and I have returned with Tuesday Tips in our private Facebook group! Last Tuesday we discussed the recent influx in school shootings – what can parents do to protect their kids.