Schools have counsellors. Kids can go to them to speak about their problems. The kids of counsellors don’t go to their own parents. They find someone else. What is the difference between a parent and a counsellor? Parents are judgemental. Counsellors are not judgemental.
Our neighbour’s kid comes to us when they are in trouble and we tell them, ”Nevermind. It’s ok. Let’s see what we can do now.” Do we say that to our own kids when they make a mistake? Parental default mode when in shock is – How could you do this? You can’t be my kid. You must have been swapped at the hospital and so on… We bail out all the rejection in the world to the most important person in our lives.
When one makes a mistake, what do they need at that moment? For instance, if someone slips and falls, they need support. Second thing they need is healing. Later on, softly one can say, “Careful next time. Tricky spot.”
If at the very time of the fall someone says to us,”Can’t you see? There are only two steps here and even those you can’t manage.” How are they going to feel? Is that what they need at that time? They are in severe physical or emotional pain, they are unable to take any advice on board. All they need is love and support. When we don’t pay attention to our state of mind, the smallest of mistakes upset us. In that case, how can we handle bigger problems? In fact the bigger the mistake, the more love and support needs to be given but we do the opposite – bigger the mistake, more the shame and humiliation.
A child is tempted to try a cigarette when his friends were doing the same. Is it normal for their curiosity to get the better of them? Can we understand that? Can we remember the time when we were that age and felt that way in a similar situation? Can we say to them that we understand? That it’s the habit of smoking that’s wrong. They are not wrong. Can we make them feel ok about themselves and empower them to choose what’s best for them? If yes, they might trust us with the truth.
It is not our job to discipline people or control their behaviour. It is our job to empower them to think for themselves. That power comes if they feel understood and accepted. When we can say to our friend, spouse or child that they are right, then they might think that we are right. If they constantly feel rejected by us, they will reject us too.
(Yesterday’s and today’s posts are transcripts from a counsellor speaking to a group of parents in Hindi in India. Name unknown.)