By Deb Graf
As adults, we often focus on what we can teach children to help them function in society. I challenge us to think about the opposite: how children teach us.
Youngsters bring life to our world: they teach us to have fun, enjoy the little moments, laugh, be spontaneous, observe the insect or flower we usually ignore, be flexible… the list is ongoing. However, children provide plenty of opportunities for us to grow and learn as a result of their challenging behaviors.
What? How can a child’s mischievousness teach us? Children can bring out the worst in us – it exposes our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Any unfinished business from our childhood will erupt to the surface. For example, we may vow to not be like our parents, to not hit or scream or be out of control; yet we’re doing the very things we vowed not to do. Any kind of relationship issues from our past: accidents, parent’s divorce, emotional/physical/sexual abuse, parents not emotionally there for us, death, parent’s anxieties and anger, family drug and alcohol abuse — they all affect us at an emotional and biological level. The pain from past relationships does not go away until we face them, feel the emotions, reframe the thoughts and eventually let go of the hurts. We’re tempted to deny or ignore; after all, who wants to face the pain? However, when we avoid the reality of the pain inflicted on us, we suffer more than we need to and unconsciously inflict more pain to our children. Therefore, when children expose our anger, anxiety, or hopelessness, it’s an opportunity for us to heal from past pain, find freedom, and grant emotional freedom to our children.
Deb Graf, LPC sees children, teens and adults. She’s been trained in attachment therapy