Holding Space For Our Kids

#toddlerstruggles connection Jul 30, 2022

So pause and think for a second... right now, what is something you're struggling with and feels hard? Not just related to parenthood but anything really.. what has you feeling discouraged, sad or just plain blah?

Now that you know what it is, do you think it would be nice if someone you love just randomly said to you that they've noticed you're feeling sad/blah/tired and that they see how hard it must be for you.. and they're wondering if they could do something to make things a bit easier?

For example, I've been feeling so blah lately and was thinking how nice it would be if someone said to me, "You look like you're not feeling crazy about life right now. That must not be a good feeling. Do you want to talk about it? Is there something else I can do to make things a little better for you?"

And just those words would be so nice. I would feel heard and seen. I would feel touched that they noticed and want to help. Its almost irrelevant that they can't physically do anything for me- just that "check in" would be so lovely.

Try doing something like this almost daily with each of your children. When we pay attention to their lives, we notice when they most struggle (or 'misbehave' in mainstream language) and we begin to understand the patterns. Then we can say things like,

"I was thinking... it must be really hard to be a big sister.. everyone is always telling you to be nice to your baby brother but no one tells HIM to be nice to you!" (we can still stop any harmful behaviors.. no need to insert lectures right now)

"I was thinking... it must be annoying for you that I'm always telling you to turn off your video games. I know you really enjoy them... I'm glad you do." (we can still problem solve later, no need to get into the buts right now)

"I was thinking... you must be overwhelmed with all your online studies. I've never had to study like that! Is there something I can do to make it easier for you?"

"I was thinking.. I've been yelling at you too much lately. That's gotta be hard. Can you show me a sign next time that I'm losing it again?"

"I was thinking... Dado/nano/cousin has been saying a lot of xyz to you lately... what's that like for you? Do you want to talk about it?" (just hear them out and acknowledge that its hard and no you're not turning your child against those people- they'll be more against them if no one helps them process their feelings and thoughts about those people)

The point of starting these conversations is to hold space for the other person. Not to teach them life lessons. Kids' whole lives don't need to be lesson time. They're people who deserve a listening ear from a loved one just as much as we do.

And when we start these conversations, we need to leave our own emotions out of them. The spotlight is on them. Not us.

Example: A friend says the above nice words to me when she notices I'm blah and then I say, "Yes.. I do feel kind of blah.. I really miss my family and worry about them. I wish I could go to Pakistan but I can't because I don't want to jeoprodize my parents' health."

What I'm looking for is space to be able to say these things. If I do want a solution, I'd say, "I'm about to share something and I need a solution or guidance or life lesson." Like sometimes people will ask us something and say, "I need help with something..." that's our clue that we CAN offer solutions.

Otherwise, it would be extremely unhelpful and even triggering if the other person said, "Yeah its tough.. maybe you should be grateful that your parents are still healthy." or "It's ok.. just go. They'll be fine.. you can quarantine." Anyone who says these things still loves me and is saying them out of their desire to help me. I know that so I don't take it personally but its still not helpful. Does that make sense? (Because the point of the original gesture of 'checking in' is to help, yes?)

Point being: when we're checking in with our kids, we don't want to get swept away with our own emotions.. we want the spotlight remaining on them. Hope that helps! <3