I have been trying to see things from my children’s point of view recently as I feel that sometimes I am telling them off too much. More yelling from me is only going to mean more noise and chaos not less, so I realised I had to do something different to get a different outcome.
With some synchronicity, I picked up Eckhart Tolle’s book recently, A New Earth. Reading randomly from the middle of the book I came across the chapter of the book which deals with ego, role-playing and parenting. Basically, this discusses the way we adopt different roles according to who we are dealing with – our boss, children, the janitor and friends and subtlety change out behaviour depending on who we are interacting with. In doing so we are no longer our self, but are adopting a role we play out. So when we become parents, we do not interact with our children as ourselves, but via the role we adopt as parents. We end up doing what we should do, rather than what the situations needs, because we are acting from pre-prescribed roles rather than from ourselves. When we give our children attention it is often a demanding type of attention: have you done your homework? Put your shoes on! When we are in a more present frame of mind we give a more undemanding form of attention to our children, just listening, being present and available and open to our children. I admit I am guilty of this, I find myself distracted far too often with my kids battering me and yelling Muuuuuuuuu-uuum! to get my attention.
I didn’t get as far as reading Tolle’s solution to this problem aside from encouraging us to be more present in our interactions, to spend more time “being” rather than rushing around “doing” all of the time. This concept of “being” and gentle parenting are two concepts I keep returning to, failing at and then having to try again.
I do think that giving your children attention, really turning your focus on them and absorbing what they are saying and doing is important if you want your children to feel valued and have a strong sense of self-esteem and self-worth. The effect of a parents gaze turned upon their child is extremely underestimated in terms of the power it has – to throw a spotlight on the child, to show they are being listened to and that they are worthy of our time and attention, to silence or warn.
I find with my kids, often I am trying to get something done and they will not let me concentrate because they need me to see something they have created, because they need to tell me something or because I am having to pull them apart and sort out the he-said’s she-said’s. I end up getting frustrated, the kids feel I am not listening, I feel guilty and nothing gets done. I have found that on those occasions when I stop what I am doing and give the children my full attention and am fully present without trying to judge, respond or get back to what I want to do, the children spend a short (and pleasurable) time to get what they need from me and then move away even if I feel like I could do with more of the interaction by this time. I am then left free to carry on with what I need to do.
But this takes being present and conscious about what you are doing and how you are interacting with people and this is something I am working on now: to be present in the moment, to not worry about later or what needs to be done or to look back and to really listen.