3. You are making me so angry.
This is just not true. No-one makes me angry. Anger is an emotion that I feel based on several factors. External stimuli, such as my children throwing balls at windows, is just one of the factors that contribute to my feeling of anger. Other factors include (but are not limited to) my prior mental and emotional state, stress level, amount of sleep I got the night before, my spiritual condition, whether or not I had eaten within the past two hours, level of physical pain, and amount of caffeine present in my system.
My kids do not make me angry. Something they do might contribute to the emotion that I feel, but what I do with that emotion is up to me. I can choose to react with an angry response, such as yelling, or I can choose to process my anger in a healthier way that doesn’t involve my children.
4. Mommy’s sad, come give me a hug.
This innocent statement might seem harmless at first but its implications are dangerous. I am inadvertently telling my children that my emotions are their responsibility. That they are somehow obliged to fix or change how I feel. That the duration of my emotional state depends in an action that they are willing to take. This message is setting them up for hardship in future relationships. It is planting the seeds of co-dependency.
I am the only one responsible for my emotions. My kids, my husband, my friends are not responsible for making me feel okay. They can be sources of support, playing with my kids can be an effective coping skill, but ultimately it’s up to me to take the action.
5. If you are going to play with these, you need to play with them the right way.
There is no right or wrong way to play. The whole idea of play is to ignite the creative spirit that lives inside. Children grow and develop through play. They learn social roles and develop communication skills. They test boundaries and push limits. Play helps them to make sense of the world. It helps them to understand themselves. Play allows children to dream. To imagine. To live out their creative realities. Play is where their internal processes are made external. Play is how children communicate with us. It’s what let’s us into their world.
Sure, some toys are designed to be used a certain way, but just because my child has the ability to think outside the box, doesn’t mean he is playing wrong. By telling him to play “right” with his toys, I am stifling his creativity, I’m inhibiting his imagination, and crushing his dreams. I’m communicating to him that his reality is not acceptable in my world. I am shutting the door that he has opened to let me into his world. I am declining an invitation to connect with him. To get to know him. He’s showing me parts of himself and I’m turning away. I’m basically saying, “don’t be yourself, be who the world wants you to be.”
It’s hard to admit all of this but I know that writing it down and sharing it will keep me accountable. I want to give my boys the best possible chance at growing into confident, independent, successful men and it all starts right here, right now, at home, with me.