As parents, we often find ourselves wishing we could change the world for our children. Even in small ways, stop them from making what we know will be a mistake, prevent them from getting hurt, and heal their hearts after that first breakup. It’s easier when they are little; a kiss can stop the sting of a boo-boo, but that same kiss doesn’t work for teens and tweens. As a mother of three, I understand how deeply this pain can impact us as parents, permeating every fiber of our being and making us wish that we could just snap our fingers and stop the pain.
Our role as parents, however, is to consider what’s best for our children without directly involving them in that moment. It’s essential to take a step back and gain perspective so we’re not projecting our hurt and anxiety onto them.
ONCE OUR EMOTIONS SETTLE AND WE CAN THINK LOGICALLY, WE NEED TO ASK OURSELVES A FEW QUESTIONS.
· Will intervening make the situation worse?
· Will it rob them of an opportunity to develop important life skills?
· Will they interpret our urge to fix it mean we don’t believe in their ability to handle this on their own?
· Do they even want our help?
· Could our intervention potentially make things worse?
· Lastly, we should consider if their pain is as intense for them as it is for us.
My best advice to parents is to sit on it and be present, making ourselves available if and when they need someone to talk to. Sometimes, they may want to open up, while other times, they might prefer to be alone. I respect their choice, even if it causes me more pain. I watch for the right moment and try to listen to their unspoken needs. Each of my children are unique in their own way, and their needs are never the same.
If you have an introverted child who needs time to process things on their own, it’s crucial to respect their space, even if it goes against your instincts and hurts you inside. I usually tell them I’ll be downstairs if they need anything, whether it’s a conversation, advice, or someone to listen. Once they realize that I see them, hear them, and respect their needs, they are more likely to come to me, even if it’s in silence. A lot can be communicated just by being there for them. Our relationship serves as the foundation that will guide them even when we’re not physically present. And our unwavering belief in them is everything.
It’s painful to watch our children process something in a way that differs from how we would handle it ourselves. Life is filled with ups and downs, and we can’t shield our kids from pain, hurt, and disappointment. But if we are patient, we will eventually have the chance to be let in, even if it happens gradually, one step at a time. When my kids change the subject, avoid eye contact, or start walking away, I recognize that they have reached their limit, respect it, and remind yourself it’s not about what you need. Parenting is the most rewarding and challenging journey, and unfortunately, it has become more fear-driven due to the constant feeds and sources of information surrounding us.
My best advice is to remember the setbacks, disappointments, and painful experiences you had to learn to navigate at their age. I often say that I wouldn’t choose any of those hardships, but I also wouldn’t change them. Through the tough times, we grow and discover our inner strength. Letting our children flounder and fail is crucial for their development. Without failures and setbacks, we lose opportunities to grow our skills, confidence, and character. When we rescue them, we rob them of learning how to grow into confident adults who can navigate the world ahead. Life will always throw you curveballs, and the more you have to overcome, the more prepared you are for the next one.
If you enjoyed this be sure to take a look at my book The Invisible Riptide