Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Recently I read three very different things (a religious blog, a special needs mom blog, and the book The Emotional Life of the Toddler) and got three almost identical messages. I decided the universe was trying to tell me something super important. So I'm passing it along. 

People Want Answers
I'm not trying to 'save' anyone because I don't think anyone's broken or at risk -- and I don't think that God is dangling our feet of faith over the fires of hell as a way to motivate us toward his love. Because I don't believe he does that with us, I don't want to do that to others.
I just think we don't see ourselves clearly. Part of what I think Jesus came to do was to restore our sense of belonging to the Divine and a sense of how truly amazing, powerful, beautiful and loved we are. When we live in that, we live differently.
Houston, We Don't Have a Problem
We work on it. We give her the best chance at moving from where she is to maybe where she’ll go next. But it’s not a “problem” anymore than it’s a problem that a typically developing 5-month-old baby doesn't yet walk. It’s how they are made. And this is how Fiona is made. And none of her differences needs a splint, a binding device to make it otherwise, a device that says more about other people’s own needs to normalize my daughter, to jam her into a container in which she will never fit, than it does about my daughter’s differences.
The Emotional Life of the Toddler
...toddlers are often unfairly blamed for behaviors they cannot control. When a child's behavior irritates or embarrasses us, we often respond by seeing murky motives behind it. In a way, we are trying to justify our negative reaction by looking for equally negative motives in the child. This is very human, but it is neither fair nor helpful to the parent-child relationship or to the child's emotional development.
The issue of mothers berating themselves for developmentally or temperamentally normal behavior cannot be underestimated. 

I think one of the biggest issues I have with my religious upbringing was the constant message of: you suck. Not in those exact words (generally). But in words like, you are broken. Unworthy. Impure. Like filthy rags. Nothing you do will ever be good enough. The best you have to offer is disgusting. You need to change. Be like someone else.

And as a parent, the constant message you get is: your kid should look like this, act like that, be in this percentile. Be the smartest, strongest, quietest. And God forbid they do something completely developmentally appropriate like have a temper tantrum. Then they are either a bad kid or you are a bad parent; probably both.

And what if we stopped for a moment and tried to accept ourselves and our children just the way we/they were? That doesn't mean we are letting ourselves or our kids "off the hook" (Kristin Neff: Does Self-Compassion Mean Letting Yourself Off the Hook?)? Research actually indicates that acceptance and self-compassion leads to taking more, not less responsibility for our actions. We don't construct false motives or exaggerate "wrongness" which tend to keep us stuck in blaming/avoidance patterns.

Gosh, just think of all the things we could do if we weren't so consumed with how awful we all are?


1 comment:

  1. "Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

    Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata".