Some people call it a bubble or a box; I often call it a wall. I have written about the walls we build around ourselves, but what about the walls we try to build around our children? Generally speaking most parents love their children and only want the best for them, but sometimes in wanting the best for them, they inadvertently start building a wall around them.
What is the foundation of this wall? It’s made up of all of a parents past hurts, pains and mistakes, and anything and everything that either hurt, scared, or damaged them in some way. They so desperately don’t want their child or children to experience any of that so they try to block them in. While it is done with the best intentions, it is often a subconscious effort, something they do without thinking.
My son is now almost 4 years old. An energetic, full of life, happy boy whom I affectionately call “Monkey Boy” for his love of daredevil moves and climbing everything and anything in sight! I love him beyond words, and every day since he has taken his first tentative steps I have had to work hard to try to not put a wall around him. I like to think that I am doing a good job of letting him be himself, but some days, I am sure I am not succeeding so well. No one is perfect; everyone is a work in progress. The most important thing to remember is that you acknowledge the negative thoughts or behaviour as in comes up in you and you make a conscious effort to modify it or eliminate it so that you don’t pass it on unnecessarily to your child or children. I feel the need to add to this topic the statement: please use common sense. Obviously, protecting your child or children from any truly dangerous situation/s is essential, so in that case, DO listen to you instincts and the voice you have inside that is screaming at you to intervene. In that case, it is warranted.
Having said that, I would like to move on to relay an example of breaking the cycle from my own life. My example is taking my son to the park to play. I remember with a smile my sons first tentative forays at the park, his little feet stumbling with awkward steps, my grip on him strong to help him walk, and having to hoist him up to the slide, holding him as he slid down. This past year he really began to able to climb the playground structures with ease. Brave as he always is, he decided that he was ready for the side of the park meant for children ages 5 and up. At first, I stood right near him, ready to catch him if he fell, all the while holding my breath, while smiling and telling him he could do it! Every part of me screamed to not let him do it, but I knew that wasn’t coming from me really. That was a bit of wall from my own family, my own restrictive childhood, which was plagued with constant words of caution from my own mother about how I could not possibly manage to do the things I wanted to do. So armed with that knowledge, and mustering all the resolve I could, I stood by and let him climb on his own. Gosh that was hard! Did he fall or slip? Yes he did, but I was there to grab him and encourage him to try again. So he did, and now of course, he is “Monkey Boy” because his foundation doesn’t have that fear of climbing tall structures or tackling high slides. I did not pass a limiting belief onto him. Now, with every chance I get where I can reinforce a positive belief to him regarding climbing, or heights or just taking a chance, I do.
It’s easier to build a wall than to tear one down, but that is one of our responsibilities as parents. We have to make an effort to not pass along negative limiting beliefs to our children. They don’t need our walls; they don’t need our flawed foundations. They need love and support and positive guidance to build their own secure foundation. Not to build a wall, but to build a strong support, a stabilizing base for their life, so that no matter what happens to them, they know they have a foundation that will support them. Whatever stage you are at with your wall, whether it’s in pieces around you, or whether it is still tall and strong, don’t extend it to your child or children. You can’t control every aspect of their life, nor should you want to. They are not you; they are not your partner. They are their own unique individual. You don’t have to change them, or squish them to fit behind your wall. Try to step into their world, communicate with them, really listen to them, and love them for the wonderful person they are.
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