Your child is different – you’ve known it for a long time. Perhaps since he was born. Maybe even earlier. Other children don’t behave this way – yours does. You’ve asked yourself “Why” and given yourself a hundred answers – and none of them are for sure.
And yes, you are worried. And for good reason. School is a problem, homework is a problem, siblings are a problem, bedtime is a problem, transitions are a problem, routines are a problem. It’s a very small, simple and sensible step to draw that last conclusion – your child is a problem.
Especially given all that you’ve tried – begging, pleading, punishing, rewarding, crying, screaming, ignoring, scolding – and nothing works. It makes sense – the problem is your child.
But that’s a line you can’t cross. It’s a red line. Because if your child is the problem, then you are stuck, because your child is just a child – what can he do about it?
The only one that’s holding the cards is you! But then you’re stuck the other way. Because if the problem is you, you are a failure of a parent and if so, you can’t bear the pain! So let’s cross the other red line and let the child be the problem. After all, he’s the one that’s not functioning properly.
Mom, dad, I’ve got bad news for you. You are wrong. Your child is actually perfect! And I can prove it! At least for some of you. Perfect means just right, ideal, the way it’s supposed to be.
How can that be, you ask. Simple. Either life is a meaningless cosmological hiccup, in which case there is no ‘supposed to be’ at all. Things are just random so whatever there is, that’s what to expect. No problem. On the other hand, each life may be in fact a divine gift from the One Above, in which case yet again it’s just as it should be.
Consider this quirky, testy, challenging, difficult, energy-draining child in your life to be not just a gift to the world but most specifically a gift for you! For you to work with, educate, love, train, serve, nourish, guide, assist and so on and that’s what you need, to make your soul complete. All part of a big plan, just like everything else.
Now logically speaking, you too are a gift, with all your weaknesses and imperfections. And that’s true too. So is there really a problem?
Let’s call it an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, to observe, to reflect, to serve, to celebrate, to validate, and above all to accept as a being of infinite value in the eyes of G-d, and therefore in your eyes too.
Let’s start there. Yes, I have a problem. But it’s not my child. It could be my attitude, my behaviour, my ignorance, my inner conflicts, my self awareness, my self-management, my parenting toolkit where the tools are either missing or rusty from lack of use.
If that’s your problem, we’ve got something to talk about. And also to be optimistic about. Because just as that child is in your life to make you whole, you are there to complete your child’s life too, and to make it whole. Enjoy the journey. The next step is about to begin. Because just as that child is in your life to make you whole, you are there to complete your child’s life too, and to make it whole. Enjoy the journey. The next step is about to begin.
When our eldest was born, there were some complications during pregnancy and delivery, and I noticed the attending doctor with tears in his eyes. I asked him, “I know there were some risks but was it that serious?” The doctor answered, “No, not so serious.” So I asked back, So why were you crying?”
“Why was I crying? Because a baby was born!”s
I said, “Dr. Goldman, how many babies have you delivered?”
He said, “Good question… let me think… About 900”
A wise man once said that the only difference between miracles and nature is how often it happens.
This week, Take a moment each day to see your child as a gift. Reflect back on the day he or she was born. Your sense of wonder, of awe, of gratitude. Perhaps coloured with fear, or anger or whatever. But for this week, forget about all that. Focus on the gift, the otherness, the miracle of life. Because the truth is, life is as miraculous today as it was X years ago when it started.