This 9-Year-Old Thing – And Control
I’m constantly amazed anew at the effectiveness of this technique of using the challenges your child offers you for your own growth and healing. If anything makes me feel overwhelmed, upset, scared, angry – whatever – and I take the time to look and ask, “If this is my teacher, if this is carefully, lovingly orchestrated to teach me, what is the lesson here?” I get the answer. Always. It’s really amazing.
You know what else is also amazing? How many times in the parenting experience I look at my child and think, “I really don’t know what to do right now.”
You know those times? You are being challenged, you know you need to do something – something needs to be done – but in the moment you just don’t know how to resolve it.
My child is going through another big life development phase (so what’s new?). This 9 year-old thing, where the child’s consciousness suddenly expands beyond the small sphere of home and family and he or she becomes more aware of the big wide world. Poor little mites go from being the big fish in a small pond (home) to small fish in a big pond (world). Not easy by any means. Each child and family deals with it differently but in my home confusion, power battles, anger, fear, tantrums, must-have-it-my-way is the order of the day. It’s fun, fun, FUN for the whole family!
He needs bigger territory, more responsibilities, more freedom to accommodate his growth and his need for adventure and independence – but at the same time he needs to know we are there keeping him safe. I’m trying to be kind and understanding while holding my boundaries firm but its ever-so tricky to do this Boundaried-Independence thing.
Another tackle with him this morning left me feeling so stirred up. Sad and confused. I want to let him grow but he is being so demanding of having his own way and when he doesn’t get it he defies and hurts people and breaks stuff. We have tried to let him do as he wishes but the outcomes haven’t always been so good so, while I can trust that he is in the midst of change, I can’t totally relax and trust his choices right now – because he is in the midst of change.
So this painful morning I removed myself from the conflict zone (I actually went to sit in my car) and asked, “Why am I so stirred up? If this is my teacher – if this is carefully, lovingly orchestrated to teach me – what is the lesson here?” I got thinking of how he reacts and freaks out when things start to unfold differently to what he wants … and then I burst out laughing as I became unpleasantly aware of how familiar that is to me. Oh this mirror of mine!
How I feel while parenting him in this stage is revealing me to myself. This morning, there I was WANTING my way while he WANTED his… That’s why it was a tackle. I want him to do it the way I want it, not some other way. I want to control it – and so does he. Of course I can allow him his own way – I’m magnanimous like that – but only if it complies with how I want it.
It was a huge relief to see what the cause of my distress was – and exciting to know I can use this opportunity to practice doing different.
Until I sat and felt it out I didn’t know what was going on or how to deal with it. I only knew I didn’t feel good after our tackle and I didn’t know what to do with him. Now that I took the time to follow my feelings I can see – both of us have been trying to make ourselves in charge of ‘knowing’ and controlling the way things go.
Today’s ponder gave me that gift. My child is frightened of these big confusing changes inside him. He is trying to control how it goes. Some part of me is also apparently frightened of the changes in him and what it means for our family and is also trying to control how it goes. (And that’s not even to mention the other family members who want to weigh in and control it.) Luckily I also have other parts of me that KNOW things mostly turn out really well –and not because I’ve had any control over them.
So now that I’ve seen this, I can practice letting go and trusting instead – it’s delusional to think I know what the end result is supposed to look like anyway! I would prefer to be curious and trusting, listen and explore what comes and be open to the unknown.
And trust myself, and him, to manage anything that might come up – no matter what.
It’s big, this 9 year-old thing. For parents and children.
What is your child showing you at the moment?