Thoughts on fostering growth through empathy
- a blog for parents -
When I was little, I played with dolls. Big dolls, small dolls, doll houses – my doll house was truly my favourite toy, so it doesn’t really surprise me that I am so keen on Sandplay with all the “miniatures” involved in telling stories and creating images of ones “inner world”…but I digress.
It occurred to me the other day that when I played “house” with my dolls, I never argued with them. Or, truthfully, they never argued with me! As a result, I didn’t yell, teach, preach, or try to convince them of anything. Of course, this was because they always did what they were told. They came to the dinner table when I asked; they went to bed when I asked; they accepted comfort and direction when they were sick; and I never had any struggles in other aspects of my life that caused me to be short tempered or impatient with them. If I am honest, it was this perspective of “parenting” that I took to becoming a mother over two decades ago expecting that, with all the nurturing skills I had (practiced with my dolls!) at my disposal, I would have the “perfect” relationship with my child. Hah!
As you might guess, this was not the case. We argued and I preached, taught, and nagged and, yes, sometimes even yelled. Did this make me a “bad mother”? I don't think so. But, at the time, I was an unprepared, naïve one. I did the best I could with what I knew and the support system I had in place. However, I learned over the years how to do “a little differently” – how to stop (or at least pause and consider whether or not I wanted to keep) preaching, teaching, nagging, cajoling….and yelling….in the hopes that I would be able to support my child to reach a “ideal outcome” – the help of the “Wizard” at the end of the Yellow Brick Road to magically solve all her problems for her.
I am still far from a perfect parent, but I am “good enough”, and I continue to work towards maintaining that status and, if possible, improving. It’s not like playing house with my dolls – it’s harder, but immeasurable more rewarding.