People in the House

Parents see it as parents and kids, but kids too-often see it as humans and tyrants because too often it is. As often as I’ll see it in a boardroom I’ll see it in a family; a total lack of awareness of the state of affairs prior to introducing something new. The kids act like idiots just when Mom and Dad were already at the end of their rope with a rough day at work. Or the parents are bending over backwards to help and the kids are attacking them as though they are the lowest life form on the Earth. These reactions are counterproductive to our own interests.

697 Relax and Succeed - Speak in such a wayWith interpersonal leadership from the parents, kids can be taught to communicate their mental weather. If a parent is losing their temper they can say to the child at that time, “Okay, I did not have a great day with my boss and now I’m getting upset with you—let’s talk about this when I have more patience because I don’t want us to treat each other disrespectfully.” Of course they’re little and can’t uphold their end of the bargain but that doesn’t matter—you’re teaching them, not the other way around. You can explain to them when you’re grumpy or tired or hungry or worried and by doing that you will teach them to eventually do it too.

The people who live together need to be aware of each others state of mind. That is the context in which all events take place. It doesn’t matter who’s younger or older or who’s the parent and who’s the kid, everyone contributes to the overall personality of a household and unaware parents are just as damaging to that peace as unaware kids. But parents who strive to maintain emotional awareness will also teach that skill to their kids.

697 Relax and Succeed - I used to think I was overreactingIf you’re a teen it isn’t unreasonable if a parent comes home worn out and is hurt that you couldn’t show your love for them by helping start dinner. Likewise it isn’t unreasonable for a kid to be tense and easily upset if they’re being bullied all day and now their parent is all-demands. It isn’t unreasonable for a parent to be upset that something they worked hundreds of hours in after-tax dollars to buy, ends up broken by their children through pure carelessness. It isn’t unreasonable for a teenager to be tired in the morning—when that is essentially biological.

Yes, we can greatly mitigate reactions to daily experiences, but since we have the emotions to express negative things we will express them because that’s how the world is built. Otherwise nature wouldn’t have built those reactions. It’s just that before we’re enlightened we don’t like it when we inevitably have the less pleasant experiences. But that’s what Yin and Yang mean. Together they create the world. You can’t have one without the other.

No story can be all high notes. That would be boring to read, watch or live. Your life is a story. And your family’s life is a story. Use your awareness of that fact to make both yours and your family’s a truly a great one. There’s nothing stopping you. You are the author of your own pages. It is you who gets to write out an angry reaction—or an upset reaction to someone else’s angry reaction. But you can also write something more peaceful. You can see your character from a bit more distance which will allow you to make calmer choices. Over time we can take upset family members—and ourselves—and learn to slow the energy down, just as we’ve been inadvertently taught to speed it up by being impatient with anything short of perfection.

697 Relax and Succeed - How to really love a childDon’t try to win or get your way. Families ultimately want to go in fundamentally the same healthy directions, so focus on those commonalities and request that everyone keep in mind that everyone has their interior lives and that some graciousness and patience would go a long way.

Don’t shoot for perfection. Healthy families find healthy ways to deal with conflict by having to deal with conflict. As long as the parent leads and provides some time for mistakes and growth, this process can bring families even closer together. Even if on some days it feels like it’s doing the opposite.

The one thing you can count on is most kids turn out far better than their parents imagined they would and, in the end, that’s as good for the parents as it is for the kids.

Have a wonderful day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Disadvantaged Youth

452 Relax and Succeed - I am twoWhen parents talk about kids having it easy, they’re talking about the fact that they’re not dealing with either money or relationship issues. But to the child their challenges are very real and the emotions they face as a result are the exact same ones we face. This means terrible disappointment feels like terrible disappointment whether you’re broken up about a divorce, or broken up about the fact that you can’t play at your favourite friend’s house. Relatively speaking the disappointment is just as big and it’s felt just as strongly and we would do well to remember that.

Another thing worth remembering is the fact that kids are human. I see this all the time. A child is considered to have misbehaved every time they do something other than exactly what the parent wanted. They essentially get scolded for being their age. Kids learn through interaction. They learn through trial and error. To be scolded for that is to be scolded for being human.

So you didn’t love it when your kid dropped stuff off their high chair in their attempt to understand concepts like gravity or here and gone—but you put up with it because they were babies or toddlers. But as soon as they can talk they’re more like employees or soldiers. They’re simply supposed to do what they’re told and anything else is classified as misbehaving. And that is ridiculous and entirely unreasonable for the kid.

452 Relax and Succeed - So often children are punishedThere are days where you get a bad sleep. Maybe it was the way your body was positioned. Maybe it was the dreams you had. Or maybe you’re ill and don’t know it. But everyone’s woken up feeling less than ideal and it makes the day a lot harder. Diets can impact our moods as can the various bacteria and virii that compromise much of who we say is “us.” But adults can have bad days. Kids don’t get bad days. Kids are being bad when they’re disagreeable. They don’t have the luxury of a grumpy day. No one will give them that latitude.

Kids can’t want something different, they can’t need some time alone. Every disagreement is seen as bad behaviour rather than recognising that it’s very often just being created by the simple and very real differences between the parent’s personality and the kid’s. In short, your kid isn’t obstinate and difficult—they know who they are and they know what directions feel like theirs.

The fact that society makes demands on them that are unnatural doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the kid—the concept of society itself is just a subconscious agreement we all make to follow largely silly unnatural patterns. Just because some guy invents the concepts of a clock and a job doesn’t mean that an actual individual human being is wise to live their life according to those two things. (See: Intentional Being Video)

452 Relax and Succeed - Normal is getting dressed in clothesIf we want to be truly healthy we have to respect what we are in nature and stop forcing ourselves into the shapes that society demands for conformity. Kids are still wise enough to resist that pressure as unnatural. Adults get subdued into a state of mind where they just follow the patterns and lose all consciousness. And then they wonder why they barely laugh while kids laugh all day.

Stop expecting perfection from kids. Start to understand their behaviour not as something that’s not only relative to you and your rules, but as something unto itself. Because that’s what egos do—they assume everything has to do with them. So when their kid has a tantrum in a public place the kid is making the parent look bad, rather than the kid is having their own very distressing experience.

Do you think back in our tribal history that when we saw a kid freaking out that our reaction was to try to get them to conform so we would look good to our fellow tribesmen? Or do you think we would have watched them in an attempt to understand their actions. Might we then see that the kid is discovering how the world works, or maybe they’re actually noticing something valuable that you’re missing?

452 Relax and Succeed - Childhood is not a mental disorderYou will have conflict with your kid when you try to talk them out of a noisy instrument like drums in favour of some musical instrument they have zero interest in. If your kid loves drums and you buy them a guitar because it’s quieter, then your kid isn’t being difficult by not wanting to go to guitar lessons—he or she is just being a drummer.

Stop spending all of your time reciting complaints to your kids. Stop and actually ask if what they’re moving toward is really a problem, or are you creating one by wanting them to do what you expected rather than what was natural for them? For instance, some people are naturally nighthawks and some people are natural early-risers. An early-rising parent who forces a nighthawk awake is placing a greater value on society’s external rules than on nature. Even their love for and appreciation of the individual that is their child doesn’t overcome that. We may not find that fact convenient but it’s true.

Cities and nations etc. make us conform. We have to surrender who we are to some degree to function smoothly with others (i.e. traffic laws). But beyond that a lot of people will still demand changes just to suit them personally. You can’t blame kids for pushing back against any unnecessary restriction–because they’re right. It’s not them that’s wrong; we’re the ones who’ve been brainwashed and convinced to subjugate our natural impulses.

452 Relax and Succeed - Play is often talked aboutBe with your kids less as a corrections officer at a prison camp filled with rules, and more as a fellow human being who is co-discovering the world alongside them. Because in the jungle there are no bedtimes, no wake times, no school and no rules. There is the world and how it works and after that everyone’s allowed to be who they are. And it works, because that kid in the jungle will know and understand his world far better than any city kid who only sees the world as a set of pre-organized concepts that can only be manipulated in pre-decided ways, like life is a Transformer that can be this or that, rather than it being like Lego where it has the freedom to be anything.

Your kids are people first and your kids second. Respect them as individuals. Instead of telling them what to do try listening for who they are. What do they place a value on that you don’t? Maybe no one in your family plays an instrument but your kid sits at every piano he sees. Now that’s a kid you put in music lessons. Maybe you want them to sit still and they can’t. Well maybe they’re a kinetic kid who’s a dancer or an athlete. Maybe your kid likes to be off alone drawing or reading. That’s not antisocial, that’s a dedication to practising something.

Respect children. They do need your help establishing healthy limits. But don’t always assume you know best. Yes, for practical daily reasons sometimes they just have to water-ski along behind your day. Whenever possible, really try to see their behaviour as having less to do with you and life’s rules and more to do with their own individuality and how that meets this great big world. Because ultimately your job isn’t to teach them who to become—it’s to help them realise who they already are.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.