When I think of my grandchildren – one now six months, and one on the way – my heart swells and tears fill my eyes; I love them so much. I hope that I have extolled upon my daughters that children are a blessing to be cherished.
One thing I can tell them is that children will be their greatest teachers. Honest, straightforward, and ever curious, children will tell it like it is, question inequities, and challenge everything. Like little parrots, children repeat what they hear, and mimic gestures and behaviours. They will also reflect the good, the bad, and the ugly.
My moment of revelation about how intrinsically linked mothers and children are came when performing therapeutic touch on the mother of a boy with severe autism. His constant spinning and screaming was a source of anxiety for the young mother seeking my help. She had hoped I could calm him, however; he was not receptive to staying still, so I offered her a treatment instead. Amazingly, as soon as the mother began to relax, so too did her son.
All the way home, I thought of my own children, and questioned how many times their anxiety or distress was merely a reflection of my own emotional imbalance. Over time, I had to admit there was a definite link. If I would return home tired and distraught, that would be the time my children were acting up. If I was feeling happy and positive, the children would reflect that back.
In therapeutic touch we have an analogy that the therapist is like a tuning fork: when s/he is centered and grounded then the client can follow suit. The same goes for children.
Another way of looking at this, is that children are mirrors for their parents. When my oldest, Marie, is being impulsive, she is reflecting my own tendencies. When Ester is feeling anxious, or John is burdened by being overly introspective, they are exhibiting the very traits I myself struggle with. The challenge for me, as parent, is to a) take ownership of my shortcomings, and b) work to heal them so that my children can do the same.
Children are teachers because they offer us the opportunity and the incentive to become better people.
Grandchildren teach us how to fall in love all over again.
I’m so glad I enrolled in the school of parenting!