You know your child’s challenges but does your child know yours?
Several generations of parents have grown up with the worldview that children need to be shielded from adult problems. Even in our worst moments of grappling with multiple challenges, we shrink back from exposing our vulnerability to our kids. Our first instinct is to appear brave in front of our kids; after all we are their heroes and cannot reveal our weak side. While the thought behind this is genuinely admirable, delve a little into the issue and you know that this theory cannot stand the test of time. Holding back a piece of ourselves from our children does not bode well on many fronts, least of all on our future relationship with our children.
The first and foremost lesson that we teach our kids by sharing our challenges with them is the fact that it’s okay to not have answers sometimes. Subliminally this can relieve them of the undue pressure of having it all under their control, as they move towards adulthood. Sharing your issues with them, in an age appropriate manner, of course, helps break the stereotype that adulthood is all about having control, when the fact is adults need to grapple with a whole lot of uncertainties.
What it also teaches them is the value of communication in relationships. In fact an open dialogue where everyone can bring their point of view to the table, is the best lesson you can provide to your children. As your child starts hitting adolescence, the period from here to adult hood is when kids are most likely to try and work things out by themselves in an effort to assert their identity. If they have had parents who discussed their problems openly with them then they are more likely to mirror the same behavior, else they will also follow the same pattern of keeping their problems to themselves as the best means of tackling an adverse situation. What sharing your issues also teaches them, is to talk about their feelings unabashedly. This in turn prevents many a problem in later life that emanates from keeping their feelings all bottled up for the fear that they may be ridiculed and not be understood.
However, to say that sharing your problem with the child will only provide valuable lessons to the child, and nothing for yourself, is saying only half the truth. Just as parents we are ever willing to lend a listening ear to our child’s problems, kids also have an heightened sense of awareness as far as parents are concerned and can sense when something is not right. While we tend to dismiss them as too small and naïve to understand our issues, in fact they are perhaps the only people in the world who can empathize with us without expecting anything. They can provide us the comfort we need in times of stress and the renewed vigour to handle the challenges of life afresh!
As they say, tough times never last, but tough people do…..especially if they are surrounded by their families!