‘It’s ok, mum. You’re learning. So am I.’ – My Little One, 4 years old.
I tell my little boy that I’m learning how to be the most beautiful happy version of me, in the same way that he is learning how to be his best, most beautiful version of himself, and that we are both learning how to be caring, kind and helpful to one another. ‘We are both learning how to live happily with each other,’ I say.
Like most other people I know, as a child I was taught to do everything adults told me without question. Not only did this teach me to become the adult that must always be right, but I lived years of insecurity, compromised self-identity and self-confidence. I learned that by doing what an adult told me and repeating what an adult taught me, or by copying the behavior of the respected adults around me, I was good, acceptable, loveable and worthy. Weren’t we all?
Adults rarely admit they have made a mistake. That would jeopardize their authority status.
I’ve never been comfortable with an authority role in my own parent-child relationship. I have chosen to live truthfully. The truth is: I have never experienced any particular moment before. My moments aren’t any more special, or superior, than my children’s moments. Every moment is unique and wonderful and is an experience that can’t be repeated exactly. I am grateful for every single moment. I am a learning parent, and I will be for every future moment.
To act like I’m not learning, and to think I’m unable to change my position on a parenting issue, is contrary to nature. We are all learning every day, and we are all the scientists of our own lives. We are here to explore, learn, experience and reach full empowerment, and to (bit-by-bit) discover how to live the happiest, most fulfilling life that we can possibly create with our very own power.
So to act like I am always right and that my children must do as I say … without ever thinking I was ever learning myself … flies in the face of living the truth. I am learning every day, along with my children.
It made me smile when my son said to me last week that he knows everything. When I replied that he has lots to learn, he said, ‘well, YOU know everything. You can teach me everything.’ I questioned him on that, too! To my baffled little boy, I explained that I’m learning along with him, and the whole fun in living life is to keep on learning, and that some philosophers have said that ‘when we stop learning, we die.’ His reply to me was, ‘yup. I already knew that.’ Bless!
One of our favourite tv series to watch together is Dinotopia, and a scene I personally love is where the people ride on the back of the Brachiosaurus as a mode of transport. When a leading character says that, actually the dinosaurs deserve no better than to be ordered around by the humans, he is corrected by the future Matriarch. She says, ‘on the contrary, humans can learn a lot from the dinosaurs – for example, we can learn humility‘. Putting aside our own pride, status, priorities, personal intentions and our own personal need to succeed, to help another travel their own personal path, no matter how self-deprecating it is, is true humility. And I feel it is something we are not generally taught to do in our modern society.
Instead many of us have been taught (and continue to be taught by each other, not at all deliberately but perhaps a tiny bit naively), to be defensive, ‘right’, critical of each other, labeling, unapologetic, power-seeking and proud. In typical daily life, we can be intolerant of each other, impatient, and we can really lack sensitivity and empathy in our daily quest to be ‘human doings’. Do, do and do some more, don’t let another person’s emotional needs slow us down, and give praise to ourselves time and time again for how much we accomplish by doing, doing, and doing some more. Feel eeeky? For me I feel stirred on the inside just reading this last paragraph – and yet it is the context of life for many people isn’t it.
Now I’ll tell a story of my own humility in the hope of sharing a lesson I learned. Once, when my son started reflecting on a few incidents that had hurt him, and started crying while thinking about it, I immediately sighed and thought,’why does he do this? Why does he bring up things from the past and make himself cry?’ It was mood-dampening and I didn’t feel like having a teary conversation, seeing we were having a good day and on our way to the park to have more fun with friends. Thoughts ran through my head like, ‘he has such highs and lows, when he is high he is bursting with excitement and physically jiggles and wiggles, and then he has lows where he cries, maybe I should be worried, maybe he is wrong to do that, maybe I’m over evaluating, but maybe a health specialist would call it bipolar or anxiety or something…’ All the while I was admiring him for his honesty and in awe of his childhood innocence and expressiveness. Such conflicting feelings in a 10-minute space in time!
I urged him to cheer up and stop making himself sad thinking about it. He kept sobbing. Eventually I got cross and told him to cheer up. ‘Stop thinking about things that make you sad!’ I ordered. It was then, because he quickly went quiet and meekly said, ‘ok mummy’, that I realised my massive mistake.
Now I knew myself at this time. I was always thinking and reflecting on what happened to me yesterday, ten minutes ago, one year ago, twenty years ago, as a way to build my senses for what I like and don’t like in this world. I revisited events in my imagination and validated my feelings on the experience, and came to conclusions about how I’d deal with similar situations in future. We all do. As an adult I learned to do this in my mind or in civil conversations with others – and to control child-like expressive emotions like crying out loud – but I definitely do exactly the same thing in the ‘grown up way’. And yet I ordered my son to stop because as a parent, it was frustrating to not be able to control his mood.
It is very normal that when a child reaches age 4, and can communicate freely, that he starts to repeat what he has heard, seen, experienced, to validate what has happened and to learn (and validate his intuition) on whether it’s good or bad.
I felt uneasy with the way I had shut him down. I had just taught him to suppress his emotions, to ignore his need to validate the world and his place in it. I had taught him to follow my orders, and I had missed an opportunity to teach him that he is, actually, safe in his world. It was quiet in the car, but I pepped up. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said, with a quivery voice. I noticed how hard it can be to say sorry to a small child who depended on me being right. ‘It was wrong of me to tell you to stop feeling sad. You are entitled to feel sad, to talk and to cry. I’m here for you, and I’m listening.’ (This is, in fact, what I wish I had heard many times in my life – and this is how I would like to be spoken to now when I’m unsure if my feelings.) ‘I’m learning too,’ I said.
He was so grateful. He finished explaining what had upset him, I validated his experience and repeated his feelings back to him, and he cheered up.
And the lesson for both of us was that it’s ok to say ‘I’m learning, too,’ and to be honest, humble, even humiliated, because sometimes it’s the way to better connection, happiness, and love.
We are taught to say we are learning in schools, however schools focus on the left side (intellectual) side of the brain. We are taught less – if at all – to openly say we are learning emotionally… and to allow ourselves to study, test, review and develop concepts relating to our creativity, intuition, energetic connections, and heart-based thinking. This is why I am now passionately writing material for my books, specifically for increasing vibrational energies, and for claiming your power in your life. Stay tuned and please visit my pages often.
“When you are in power of your life, you have no need to seek order and control over another’s life. Simple enjoyment and fulfillment is all that you seek.” (Joanna Becker)
Day by day we aim to repair our bodies and have trust, faith and optimism for the future. You can join me as I walk to wellness in the private facebook group Joanna Haley Homestead (Journey to Wellness)
Joanna Haley, Author