As a parent, we can think we are in control and what we are struggling with is ‘hidden from the kids.’ We think that we shelter them from the harsh realities of the world so they can grow up unhampered by our worries, fears and woes. We can often go to extreme lengths to try and hide what is going on at home and what we are dealing with in work, in our wider families, in our relationships, even in the laws and regulations of the country we live in and those countries that impact us all globally.
I spoke to a family recently and on the face of it everything they presented was fine, yet underneath the ‘we’re fine’ exterior was a state of play that was harming the children and both parents to a devastating degree. This is just one family amongst billions of us living in a way that hides and disguises what is really going on with our lives, our interactions and our relationships.
We can look like we are ‘living the dream,’ but has ‘the dream’ turned out to be a prison of our own making, and the kids are in there with us? Our children are so perceptive, they see everything; we think they know nothing and all too often they actually know more than we do. Kids know the moment we go into tension, stress or anxiety; they know every nuance of our behaviour and don’t miss a trick. In observation our kids have an innate wisdom that has nothing to do with the number of their age.
As soon as babies are born they are ultra-sensitive to their environment, how they are picked up and held, the tone of voices, the tension in the bodies around them. As babies grow that sensitivity is always there, as they grow a child can try to bury it with food, TV, gaming, alcohol or drugs but they still have that awareness of what is going on in their own family. Kids are great observers, they are masters at it.
We give everything away with our movements, try as we may, we are exposed at every turn. 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, talk about others, the standards we demonstrate we have, how much we want to control…
….our every breath exposes us for where we are at and what we think we are hiding.
Our kids are likely never to reveal that they see it all, why would they break the wall of silence and pretence when the adults in their lives are so invested in keeping it? Why would our children be the ones to stick their neck out? They may show us in their behaviour, with arguments and fights, sullenness and non-compliance, that is where they are exposing our secrets. No matter how hard we try to be otherwise, we are transparent in how we live and move around in our environments.
You may think at this point, well what’s the point in hiding anything? And you would be spot on to feel that!
If all our behaviour is to hide how we feel and how we live, what we are teaching our kids? What if we were straight with them and verbalised what they are already picking up on? It allows our children to see that transparency is not just safe, but it’s how we can all be with each other.
Our kids are gold, being open and transparent with them is a potential for families to go to a whole new level.
Then we can simply stop trying so hard to contain what is all too visible. What an amazing opportunity we have in that – pure gold.
Taking a moment of pause