What a four-year old taught her mom about parenting is profound
No two parenting styles are the same. Infact, no one has the manual for how best to raise a child. Many parents are raising their kids in the best possible way that they know.
Thankfully, many African parents are raising their kids away from the mentality that children shouldn’t express their feelings especially when it looks like a challenge to their parent’s instruction.
A mom, @JusttBarb shared a profound lesson she learnt from her 4-year old daughter and it’s worth reading through. Her story has been retweeted over 29, 000 times and liked over 94, 000 times.
Read her story here
My daughter shifted my parenting this afternoon. On the way home, her and her cousin were in the backseat arguing. I looked into my rear view mirror and said “Jahara, what is going on?” (This question is very important to the story.) She said, “K keeps taking my toys.”
I said, “Are you frustrated that he keeps taking the toys? Are there other toys that you would prefer to share?” She looked out the window for a second. “No, I just don’t want to share my toys right now.” I asked her cousin to play with his toys and when we get home
We’ll pick out all the toys we plan to share. They both agreed. What happened next I did not expect. “Mommy.” “Yes Toots.” I met her eyes in the rearview mirror and she said, “I feel sad that you always think I did something wrong. I’m always asked first. Please ask everyone else and then me.” Woah.
My four year affectively communicated to me how she felt (as a direct result of my behavior), what she needed (defined method of accountability from me to her) and made a request of me (an established boundary that ensures her need is met.On my end until the boundary changes.)
The rest of the way home they bickered and I intervened as little as possible and eventually they worked it out. I kept replaying Jahara’s statement in my head and then I replayed the entire interaction over. I always ask her first.
In restorative practices we ask the person who did the harm first, what happened. Regardless of the framing, interrogation of others can be met with shame. Even if we lovingly call a person in for the harms they have caused, there is still shame connected to causing harm.
Each time I asked my child directly what happened, the message she received was that I perceived her to be the source of the harm. That is what ticked her emotional response to be sadness and anger communicated through yelling and running away.
So now I’m sitting here, coming up with ways to remind myself to slow down and ask the other person first. I’m also going to reframe the question and see if that helps. I’m so grateful that we have created the conditions for our children to challenge us +see it as a sign of love to give feedback and set boundaries.
And yes, my inner child has experienced some healing from this lesson as well.
Also! I want to emphasize the point of making eye contact when she called me. When shame is present it means there is a disconnect. While people project shame in various ways there is always opportunity to connect and then communicate to work through the shame.
Eye contact is one of the ways. If I never made eye contact with her I don’t think her I statement would’ve had as much impact on me as it has. Especially because her eyes were already waiting for me when I looked up.