The fact that I have been given the gift of being allowed to raise a child is the best possible gift ever. To me, being a parent is an endless source of love and joy, as well as the best possible education in personal development! I think it is very interesting to unravel the reasons why I respond the way I do to my child’s behaviour. This really challenges me to analyze who I am.
I, for one, could not care less if my child wants to turn the living room into a playground. But I know many parents who simply will not allow behaviour like that. What does this reveal about me? In this case, it reveals that I value ‘being a child’ and ‘thinking outside of the box’ (and how to use chairs for several purposes). It also reveals that I am hardly ever bothered by a cluttered living room. Apparently, my head has enough order to be able to handle clutter :-).
On the other hand, there is also certain behaviour I do have a problem with. I don’t fancy her going to school with bright coloured nail polish, let alone be in the situation where the nail polish has started to flake off. It makes me shiver, although I cannot tell you why. To me, it’s very simple though: “That is not right and should not be done”.
When you hear your own thoughts saying ”That is not right!” or, “We don’t do things like that”, you (almost) always deal with a conflict of values. In that case, it’s hard to verbalize a concrete consequence for you personally, like it’s costing you time, money or energy. However, you still don’t want what is happening to happen!
It’s not costing me money, time or energy when my child goes to school with her nail polish flaking off, but still, I don’t want her going to school like that! My values are important to me, they are my personal life rules and they are therefore part of me. They deal with issues like sharing candy with friends, using inappropriate words, offering help to others in need or leaving the house without brushing your hair, which are all subjects I am personally sensitive to, and all of which deal with values.
At the same time, I wonder, is it absolutely necessary that my child lives according to my rules, according to my personal values? Is it important to me that she obeys my personal rules all the time? Do I only accept her when she behaves as I want her to behave? Does she have to develop the same personal rules as mine? Is it fair to prevent her from discovering her own values and doing it the way she wants? And, by the way, am I always right as far as values are concerned? Do my values have priority over others – my child’s included?
The answer to all these questions is a heartfelt NO!
I realize that everyone is different and yes, I want to allow my child to discover her own values. To be honest, I see it as a compliment that she has already discovered her own values and is not afraid of showing them. This makes me feel proud, instead of irritated.
My wish for her is to stay authentic, all values included. And this is how I will accept her. At least, as long as she gets rid of that flaked off nail polish as soon as possible ;-).