Updated: Mar 12, 2020
There is a particular school of thinking around family life that causes huge amounts of unnecessary angst.
It robs families of so much joy and generates so much stress.
It’s an area where there is a huge chasm between what people say they think and what is ingrained deep down. So, before you nod and smile and say you don’t buy into this myth please pause and notice whether it has somehow managed to sink its hooks into you too.
It’s insidious and sneaky and there’s times when most of us get sucked in by it. And it trips up families time and time again
It’s the myth that family life SHOULD be easy. That if we just do x and y then z will happen and all will be wonderful.
And it’s complete and utter rubbish!
Yes children need love, nurture, warmth, attention, kindness
Yes they need boundaries and safe limits
But how you do that – depends on your relationship
AND NO TWO RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE SAME!
Yet how often do we feel we are expected to know exactly what they should be doing in every situation?
And how much shame and stigma is there when things aren’t working well?
But this isn’t the worst part.
The problem with this premise that it should be easy, leads to a more damaging way of thinking. When things aren’t working we start we fall into one of two schools of thought:
There is something wrong with me – I’ve failed as a parent
There’s something wrong with my child – it’s broken and needs fixing.
Maybe there’s nothing wrong with you OR your child – maybe it’s just this model works differently to what you were expecting and your tool kit needs expanding or you need to look at it from another angle.
Labouring under the belief that there is something wrong with a member of the family has the potential to breed shame, disappointment and a sense of failure. Neither does it resolve the problem – it’s a bit like standing at the train station and wondering why your aeroplane hasn’t arrived yet – you’re at the wrong place!
So what can we do?
If we can shift our thinking to understand that each relationship is something new to explore and learn. If the focus is finding new ways to work together then suddenly we’re a team with a common goal. Blame and shame have no place, but collaboration and communication do.
If we want positive connected relationships then we need to accept family life is messy and complicated and THAT’S OK. Things go wrong and THAT’s OK. We all are learning and THAT’s OK.
So please, next time something is going wrong at home – even if your child’s behaviour is really horrid – it doesn’t mean they or you are broken/wrong or need fixing. It means there is something that needs to shift in how you work together so that you can find the unique shape of that relationship.
Recognising this and taking time to be kind to yourselves, to reflect, process and reach out for help is something to be proud of - your family matters and investing in it is something to be applauded.
Julie works with parents helping to make family life work better.
To arrange a time to talk about how you can work together contact her on 07745 448871 or via firstname.lastname@example.org or join the free FB group for parents at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ThinkingSpace/