Hi, my name is Chantal and I’m a control freak!
Before I actually became a parent myself, I was God’s gift to parenting! MY kids were gonna be GREAT sleepers (I just wouldn’t give them any other choice, darling), they were going to eat only the healthiest foods (it’s all about making sure they never know there’s any other option), they were gonna be incredibly polite and well-behaved (you just have to set very clear boundaries). I mean, hello?! I was a brilliant nanny and that’s pretty much the same thing, right?! Hahahahahahahaha!!!!
Anyway, we all know how that turned out! These kids have shown me so many things and have brought many things to the foreshore that I hadn’t taken too seriously or hadn’t even realised about myself but… this one?! I would have NEVER painted myself with that brush!!! Anyone who has seen my house knows I’m not a Type A personality! Come ON.. A control freak?! Me?!
So just now the kids are playing happily but I’m sitting there growing increasingly frustrated with their “Pretend that this happened..” or “Pretend she said this..” and squashing each other’s offers (I’m blaming my improvisation training) with “No, she didn’t say that.. she said this..” anyway, a sensible and well-adjusted Mother would let the kids do their thang since they clearly didn’t have an issue but THIS Mum decided to intervene telling them maybe they should try a “Yes, Let’s” approach (again, the Impro training) to each other’s offers and that they should “show and not tell”.
They looked at me like the interfering w***er I was being and told me to “kindly go away”… and quite right they were!
Ok.. so what’s the big deal?! Why does this bother me?!
Well a. It’s a pretty annoying trait but b. I think that when I’m at the point of actively disrupting contented child’s play, it’s an issue. And yes, that example is probably not all that bad to many but it makes me think of that idea of having to “control” children, which is a concept I am very opposed to and probably one of the most triggering paradoxes of parenthood.
Most of us are delivered the strong message that we need to have control, we need to keep our kids under control and even writing those words makes me mad because that’s certainly not how I feel we should be raising humans. Especially the kind we need in the future. We need empathic, game-changing free-thinkers not oppressed and compliant and/or angry and emotionally immature people who are going to further destroy humanity and the planet.
I know all this but this is probably one of the hardest things I face and probably why the idea of being a “control freak” irks me so bad. There is a voice in my head when I respond to my kids sometimes that says “Control them!”, “You need to get this under control!” and when I’m absolutely failing at getting them to listen or do what I need them to do I feel a sense of hopelessness that I can’t control my kids.
I know in my heart of hearts that that’s a good thing, though. Despite those messages I’ve received from society, I know I don’t want compliant kids. I know that their individuality and strong wills are brilliant traits and here I’ve detailed how best to maintain your own patience whilst raising and celebrating strong-willed kids. I also know that I’m not aiming for “control”, I’m aiming for “connection”… that’s what makes a child choose between my will and theirs. They come here with the inherent desire to please those closest to them and if my kids are resisting that, then that’s them sending me a clear message that I need to focus on connection!
The best way to do that, particularly when a deep and undesirable trigger has surfaced is to get some Listening Time. To have a laugh, cry, scream or shout about what these little beings have brought up in me. What have they turned me into?! This isn’t me! I’m cool!
Then it’s time to fill them up with connection super-foods such as Special Time and Roughhousing. I try to do 10 minutes ST and 3-5mins Roughhousing each day and we definitely notice the difference when that’s lacking!
And, like me, my kids need to have their other feelings heard by a loving listener through Staylistening to their tears, tantrums, anger, etc.
It can be disheartening to have a torch shone upon an unpleasant trait but just like our kid’s off-track behaviour is a little signal that something needs to shift, the same goes for us and the good news is, things can only get better from there!
Sending love and compassion to those who have been exposed by their darling ones and as always, offering a Listening ear!
Aunty Ask xx