Sunday, June 23, 2013

Easing Our Childrens Minds

My boys are showing me just how scary life looks through their eyes sometimes.  I had forgotten how scary growing up really is and in my busy all about me sometimes lifestyle I forget to stop and ask them where they are and if they need any clarification or guidance.

This morning my sons overheard a conversation between my husband and I about career and lifestyle changes in order to simplify our lives and bring us more happiness and greater well being.  Career and lifestyle changes that look valid and normal to the 40 year old eye look and sound very different to the eyes and ears of our children.

The conversation my son overheard sent him into a fit of fear and he got really angry with us for making changes that woud affect him and create a situation where he would have to find his own transportation (he has spent a year going to school and working using my car).  His feeling of not being ready to pay for his own transportation brought him to express in anger and frustration that 'if only mom would get a real job our lives would be different'.

We've had this discussion (argument) enough times in this household that it no longer hits the nerve that it used to for me.  Thankfully.  But it did offer up an opportunity for a heart to heart with my son.

As my son stormed off to his room to sulk; I followed him and sat down to ask him what was bothering him about the conversation he overheard.  His perception is that we are poor because we live on a strict budget and now we are discussing paycuts and downsizing our vehicle options in order to simplify our budget even more.  If he has to purchase his own vehicle it means one more step into the world of adult life where he feels unprepared.  It means greater responsibility and no room (in his mind) for error.

I explained that the ideas we had when we were in our twenties are nothing like the ones we have now.  At forty and forty six we see life differently and what was important twenty years ago, no longer holds value for us.  We want a simple life.  We want peace.  We want wellness.  We want to live in a way that makes us happy and sometimes that happiness comes at a financial cost but in the long run it is the better choice to make for mental and emotional well being.

The more I talked to him about the situation and explained that we don't 'have' to make the decisions we are making; that we are making them in a space of comfort and peacefulness the more I could see he was 'getting it'.  He was starting to understand that there is nothing to fear, that in fact that what he sees is lack is actually abundance that he didn't know about.

It is so easy to forget that our children are seeing life through their emotional filters and through their own unique perspective.  They carry guilt, shame and fear that we sometimes can't see.  They are overhearing conversations and creating their own story with the bits and pieces they are taking in. 

My oldest son has anxiety surrounding growing up and the responsibilities that brings (naturally!).  Giving him new ways to look at things and laying things out step by step for him make it easier to make choices that are more healthy than the ones he would make out of fear.  When our kids are younger we teach them how to do things step by step.  When they become teens or young adults we expect them to know how to do what they need to do when they don't.  They are facing experiences that up until now we as parents have always taken care of.

After our discussion, he got dressed and said "I'm going to pick up my buddy and we're going to go look at some cars".  He's excited all of a sudden.  He's got a plan in mind and he understands that he has support through the next phase of his growth because I am going to help him move through the experience and help him trust that it is going to be a positive one.

I was so filled with love for our relationship as he walked out the door.  I was so filled with gratitude that I have grown into the kind of mom that doesn't take my childrens fear and anxiety personally; that I can see beyond it so that I can help them understand themselves a little better.

My son is no longer afraid of the decisions my husband and I are making because he understands that we aren't making them because we NEED to.  We are making them because we WANT to.  When we do this there is power and we teach our children how to make their decisions from the same place. 

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