Little Mirrors of Accountability

I have come to realize what crystal clear mirrors I have been given in my children.  They so innocently yet palpably reflect my attitude back to me, underlining both my strengths and deficiencies with precision accuracy.  It has been a tough lesson for me to look at them and honestly acknowledge my reflection when I don’t like the manifestation displayed before me.  The presence of my children in my life has created parameters in which it has become very difficult to operate under the influence of my own bad attitude without creating an environment of glaring hypocrisy…. and my children are often the undeniable vehicles that bring my own duplicity to my attention.  Sometimes it is tempting to blame my children for misbehavior and hold them solely responsible, all the while witnessing my own rebellious image staring right back at me because their behavior has been seeded by my own laziness, emotional upheaval and lack of self control.  In the end, my babies are the most precious gift of accountability because they haven’t yet developed the skill of self-moderation and thus cannot help but fully and transparently reflect back to me everything they see and experience and learn… ultimately from me.

During a particularly difficult day, full of meltdowns, tantrums and frustration, I found myself at the end of my rope and completely at a loss for a proper response.  Feeling disoriented and off course, I contacted a good friend of mine who always seems to help me find my perspective.  Our conversation was very instrumental in helping me learn to keep myself accountable first and foremost before attempting to hypocritically hold my children accountable:

 

“What is your calling as a parent in the lives of your children?”

“To be a safe place for them to be ALL OF THEMSELVES.  To wish them just enough joy and just enough overwhelming obstacles that they see God’s hand in the former and know that only God can steer them through the latter.  To be a totally available example of how to be thus amazed and steered.”

“Do you see your calling in the lives of others to be any different?”

“No.  Expanded.  Unleashed.”

“Within that vision of your calling, how do you create a safe place for your children to freely express their emotion without fear of expressing themselves while at the same time teaching them skills such as discipline and self control?”

“By example.”

“What does that example look like in practice?  For example, if your child throws a kicking, screaming fit for not getting the toy or snack that they want, what does your response and example look like?”

“That’s a trap question, so I will be careful.  When I’m fully conscious, I remove the plank from my own eye before I attempt to remove the speck in theirs.” 

“The trap being that the parent is often as irritated at not getting the well-behaved child they want as much as the child is irritated at not getting the toy they want?”

“Exactly, and when you are consciously aware of that you are a better parent, naturally and supernaturally.”

“So the exercise for the parent is not to search for the ‘right’ response (because there is none within the parameters of a hypocritical attitude or the desire to craft the perfect child) but rather to surrender to the most present awareness in the moment and seek deep and genuine connection with the child… and once that happens, the best response to the child inherently and organically manifests appropriate to the moment without any effort to discover it or manufacture it?”

“Perfectly said.”

A wonderful mommy and friend of mine, Krissy, recently wrote a similar post on the struggles of recognizing and evicting a complaining, selfish attitude on her blog “Mommy by Faith.”  You can read her transparent, encouraging confession here.

  1 comment for “Little Mirrors of Accountability

  1. Aleta Sonnenberg
    February 2, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    The truth is…
    when we strengthen families, we nurture and fulfill our children’s need for trust, respect, and affection, and ultimately provide a lifelong foundation for healthy, enduring relationships.
    – See more at: http://www.attachmentparenting.org/#sthash.vouev7mK.dpuf

    By putting the importance of relationships in proper perspective, we can strengthen our families. It is really the relationship that is paramount. Heart to heart. When I see it this way, I can set aside my “selfy-ness” (my own word here, not a typo) and let the strength of God flow through me to nurture our relationship to fulfill my children’s need for affection, trust and respect. As Tia said, children are powerful mirrors of our own needs and emotions. Even God stresses relationships of the heart with us, His children. Just as God nurtures us, we must nurture and fulfill our children’s need for the same trust, respect and affection providing an enduring basis for healthy lifelong relationships with God, with others, with their own unborn and the world at large.

    To be in a heart relationship, we must be mindful to always be in the present moment, on purpose, aware and nonjudgmental. When our kids are showing what we see as negative behavior, we must take them aside privately and discover their true needs, to look for “the patched sheet”, (but that is another story) and address them now “in the moment” for our children to feel acknowledged, secure, safe, loved, approved, validated and wanted. The stronger the relationship, the fewer their behavioral “problems.” When our kids desire for validation, love and acceptance from us is ignored, they will move away from us emotionally to get it somewhere else.

    Heather Forbes writes of this in her book, “Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control, Vol. 2,” where she addresses the recovery of heart relationships that have been damaged or lost in adoptive children. One mother stepped into her adopted daughters room interrupting an episode of self mutilation. At first she was angry that her daughter was using a gift she had given her to use as an instrument to cut herself. She was horrified, hurt, and angry. Her initial reaction was to have unleashed all of her own feelings on her daughter that she had in that moment of fear and horror at seeing her daughter cutting herself.

    However, she told her daughter she would excuse herself from the situation until she could set aside her own fear and compose herself. In a while she knocked on her daughter’s door, was invited to enter, and apologized to her for her reaction of fear and horror to the cuts she saw on her girl’s arms. The weight of the daughter’s fearful emotions poured forth when she revealed that cutting herself was the only way she felt real. Her mom said that she would not try to stop her but asked if she could sit with her as she cut herself. The daughter was dumbfounded that her adoptive mother would care so much for her and be willing to go through something painful with her even though it hurt the mom emotionally, too. The mother told her that it was too a heavy burden to bear it alone. At that moment, her daughter knew that for her mother, the relationship was more important to her than the mother’s own anger, fear, hurt or horror. The cutting stopped then and there and did not return.

    We cannot override fear from a stand point of fear. We cannot demand that demanding stop. We cannot adjudicate our kids’ pain. We have to see their actions through the lens of love to be able to answer their cry for our heart relationship with them.

    As parents we have so much power to mold and shape our children through strength of relationship manifested through loving patience, guidance, discipline, protection, forgiveness, joy, and unconditional love, just as God does for us. Not that we loved Him but that He first loved us.

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