Anyone been hurt, outraged, upset by what their children have done or haven't done? Great - all hands are raised! I've been pondering this idea that we are all doing the best we can with the information we have. The older I get the more I truly believe this is so. Age has given me more equanimity (not a lot, but more then where I started). Also, I try, try, TRY not to be such a blamer (old habits die hard, if only so and so didn't do such and such I would be able to let go of this old habit!). Love + Equanimity - Blame = Compassion
After spending two full Saturdays leading an intensive PEP Parenting class I thought that perhaps this old saying is good for the kids too. When we parent with hurt and angst, like our two year old is tantruming AT us. Our four year old is being unreasonable and undignified about forking over the i pad TO us. Our eight year old is trying to turn our hair gray by 'forgetting' to take out the recycling. Or our tween is telling us half truths to embarrass us.
What IF they were doing the best they could, with the information they have AND with what they really and truly believe. The really and truly believe is my little twist - because we really and truly believe what we are doing is right (or the only way, or the path to what I need). And guess what. . . . SO DO OUR KIDS. Our two year old believes the world will end when she can't sit in THAT chair, RIGHT now. Our four year old believes his happiness can be found after one more, gosh durn, Pokemon Go guy is found. Our eight year olds brain is filled with legos and how to survive the camp bus and really and truly believes taking out the recycling is LESS important, after all those recycle guys come back every week, what's the big deal, CHILL. And oh boy, our teen is telling us half truths because she loves us, AND she wants to do what she wants to do, and what EVERY SINGLE OTHER ONE of her friends get to do, and honestly believes she will lose all her friends if she doesn't get to go either.
I hear you, "Seriously Paige, they are doing it TO ME. They KNOW better. I can't let them GET AWAY with this." I'm with you people, I don't want them to 'get away' with anything either. I bring this up so we remember to dole out equal amounts of compassion AND goodwill as we are upholding our limit. As we wait for the device to be handed over, as we escort the child to the recycling, as we double check with the teens friend's parent about the sleep over, we give them the benefit of the doubt. We assume, we believe that THEY are doing the best they can with the information they have and what they really, truly believe.
When we treat our kids (and everyone else, for that matter) that way we save and protect the relationship. Once the boundary, limit, chore is upheld we don't have that angry, fearful, upset chasm to cross to get close again. We have goodwill and compassion and with only that between us we can snuggle up close on the couch, watch a good show, and try again tomorrow.