As a parent, we can think we are in control of what our children know about us in all areas of our lives, our work, relationships and even our wider family ‘stuff’, but are we fooling ourselves? If we think we are hiding our issues and concerns from the kids, is this wishful thinking and not the reality at all?
Perhaps we think that we are sheltering children from the harsh realities of the world so they can grow up unhampered by our worries, fears and woes, perhaps we think this is our job as parents. Therefore, we can go to all manner of lengths to try and hide what we are dealing with in our lives and put a lot of energy into making it look like everything is working and life is not hard at all:
We can look like we are ‘living the dream, yet children are so perceptive, they see and feel everything because we are much less subtle than we think.
Let’s face it, kids know the moment we go into tension, stress or anxiety; they know every nuance of our behaviour and don’t miss a trick. Try as we may, we are exposed at every turn – our every move is a dead giveaway. Every time we walk across the room, go out the door, talk, wash up, do the chores, prepare a meal, interact with family, look after ourselves, value ourselves. In fact,
Our every breath exposes us for how we are really feeling.
No matter how hard we try to be otherwise, we are fully visible in how we live and move around in our environment. We are just masters of pretending that we are not. We have free reign to dump our emotional stuff on people, child or adult, but to be real about the fact that we have stuff and we are dealing with it.
Children know when we are living a big cover-up and hiding our challenges. They may not be able to put it into words, but they feel it and if they cannot talk to us about it in words, then they will tell us with their behaviour. If they are acting out, is it possible that they are sensing we are unsettled, stressed or upset. If that is the case, why do we try so hard to pretend?
If we are deep into pretending things are not as they are, we are in effect denying the feelings the children are having.
If we pretend, we are constantly telling them something contrary to what they know and sense, it is destabilising for them. We are teaching them to doubt their feelings. So how do they trust what they feel in other situations? They don’t. They learn to doubt themselves instead.
Would a change in our behaviour allow children to see that being real about how we are feeling is a positive way to live and is good for our mental and physical health and wellbeing? Being real offers a transparency that says, ‘this is who I am.’ It also reflects that they are correct in what they sense and, very importantly, that they can trust what they feel.
Being real, open and transparent and learning from children has the potential for families to go to a whole new level. This is a level where we can simply drop the ‘trying’, the lying, the pretending, all the smoke and mirrors stuff, and stop trying to control or hide what is actually all too visible.
What an amazing opportunity we are afforded when we have children. No more pretending, rather confirming to children that yes, they do know what’s going on, they have rumbled us, what they feel is the truth of the situation. They get to feel settled as a result and we get to stop pumping all our energies into maintaining that picture of the perfect life, that’s a win-win situation.
No more hiding things from the kids, no more pretending, phew, what a relief! 😊