Yes, it’s true. As parents we all know it. Our kids reflect back to us ALL sorts of things. They are a giant Kid Mirror showing us…things we do, things we’ve said, things we wished we hadn’t said. Our attitudes. Our beliefs. Some things we know about ourselves—some things we don’t know about ourselves. Things we like about ourselves….and to our utmost delight (not!)—things we don’t like about ourselves.
If we knew this is what we were signing up for, we probably wouldn’t have done it!
But they are so darned cute—especially when sleeping!!
Let’s just say, I wasn’t particularly “ready” to be a parent when I got pregnant. And I knew it. But I did want to have a family. So here I am, 10 years & 2 kids later and I am *starting* to feel ready to be a parent. It’s hard work. Physical work—yes. Caring for little people is physically exhausting. And possibly even harder than that is the emotional/mental work. And it is possible that up till now, I have done my best to avoid embracing this work as a parent.
And then something happened. It might have been me waking up. It might have been me trying to distract myself from other things. It might have been that my daughter turned 8 1/2 and developed an attitude that could singe rocks. In any case, I made a decision. I decided to WELCOME this work! On myself. With my kids. And let me tell you—have I discovered a WEALTH of opportunities!!!
That is how I have chosen to look at every episode (at least when I am awake). An opportunity. A chance to make a change. To make a choice. To decide what kind of outcome I am interested in and to see what it takes to get there. So my big lesson in this —well there are two I guess. First one is acceptance. I MUST accept (1) what is happening and (2) where I am at with it. There is no perfectionism here! Without accepting at these two levels, I will get nowhere. The second big lesson for me is to give it some space. Whatever “it” is. Kids interactions are not adult interactions. Sometimes the “outcome” I am interested in takes some time to unfold. Sometimes I need the kids to show me the kind of outcome that will take us where I want to go. Imposing *my* ways isn’t the solution. So allowing the solution reveal itself, becomes the task at hand. And this requires time & space.
To provide this time & space, we have started doing what many other families have found to be supportive for overall peace & harmony in the house: family meetings. We call them a “kiva” – loosely based on the Hopi term for a ceremonial meeting space. The key that we have discovered in doing this is allowing the kids to take ownership along with us for the problem-solving process. And they love it! Granted, I DO have two highly spirited Greek children—so circling up to have lively discussions is in their blood. But I have been genuinely surprised at how well it has been working.
If I was to offer any bit of advice to others seeking new ways to create this kind of space, I would say: pay attention to what works best for your kids—without being attached to a specific outcome in the moment. It might be that you get 5 minutes and that’s it. That 5 minutes combined with another 5, and another 5 start to build a foundation upon which the rest of the 23+ hours you spend as a parent with your kids each day is constructed. And when THEY have ownership in the agreements made in a family meeting, supporting them to uphold these agreements changes the power dynamic of traditional “discipline.” It helps them learn about honoring their word and their agreements, which is crucial in our day & age!
So congratulations! You’re a parent! You are RICH!!! Rich with magical moments from which you & your children can derive true gold!