Deep down, nestled in the heart of every parent, is a tiny kernel of fear, the very beginnings of a frightening tale about their child. Without conscious awareness, this little seed germinates slowly but insidiously, spreading its shoots into our thinking, soon revealing a very real story which we play over and over about our beloved:
- My child is incapable of handling challenges.
- My daughter will remain friendless her entire life.
- My son will never make anything of himself.
I’m not making fun of these fearful fantasies; I was a master storyteller myself. But exposing them to the light of day and daring to share them with other parents, usually transforms them from scary truths into what they truly are:
Wild Imaginings! Scary Make Believe! Horror Stories!
How does this happen?
It starts because we scare ourselves about our child’s unhappiness. When our child is unhappy — angry, sad, lonely, etc. — we judge those emotions as bad for our child or that they mean something bad about us: we’re inept, flops as parents, failures. We don’t, of course, want our child to suffer or struggle, and we all want to be good parents, but judging our child’s unhappiness is the root of our problem. It’s how we scare ourselves.
Judgment is a powerful, creative force; that’s why we employ it. Yet we mistakenly believe judgment sharpens our perception and enhances our problem-solving abilities. If we can determine what’s wrong or bad, we can fix it — or so the thinking goes. But the opposite occurs.
The minute we make unhappiness the enemy, clarity flies out the window, leaving us grasping for solutions while experiencing upset, fear and worry. Now our stories feel real.
Instead, why not use our imaginations to our benefit?
We can. By temporarily suspending our judgment and discomfort around our son’s or daughter’s unhappiness, we allow our mind to settle, our worries to dissipate, our heartbeat to slow. We are then free to discover the unexpected truth about unhappiness:
Our child is human, and humans get unhappy.
By viewing those fights between siblings or our son’s meltdown over limits set or our daughter’s self-doubt as a part of our nature, our experience, we can craft a different story, one which fosters peace and kindness and acceptance for our humanness.
And soon we’ll have a Love story we play over and over about our beloved and ourselves.