Belonging, self-love and other really BIG, IMPORTANT things we need to teach our kids…but HOW?
“Every one of us is seeking the same thing. Each one of us wants to know, do you see me, do you hear me, do I matter?” — Oprah
At the core of who we are, are we all just searching for belonging? I noticed on my vacation last summer, while taking a tour around the beautiful canals of Boca Grande, Florida that every single boat we passed, without exception, acknowledged us with a wave or a smile, or both, ONLY because we too were on a boat. Complete strangers, passing by and smiling. This does not happen on the street. I know because I’m always the one making eye contact with strangers and smiling at them and being the recipient of the shocked and sometimes confused faces. “Is she smiling at me?”, “Do I know her?” they all seem to be thinking. So what is it with people that have a common bond, such as a boat that makes them all open to connection?
I started thinking more about the other places I see this behavior and I wasn’t surprised to notice a pattern. When I go hiking, rarely do I pass another hiker without them saying “good morning” and smiling. We have a common purpose that day, get out, get moving and enjoy nature. It’s a community of likeminded people, at least when it comes to one specific thing and maybe that’s all we need. Is it really that simple? Could it really only take finding one common ground to stand on, to instill a feeling of belonging?
Common ground opens up easy conversation if one is willing to strike one up. What something like boating or hiking provides is a visual confirmation of already being a part of the same community. It doesn’t require asking any questions, it’s already known, “this person enjoys what I enjoy.” I watch my toddler at school and the same thing occurs. He sees other kids playing and having fun and he just jumps right in, no introductions needed, just a common interest in having a good time on the playground. So then, what happens when we aren’t on a boat or hiking a trail? Why is it that when we are walking down the street, this common bond seems to no longer exist?
I’m watching this very shift occur in my 6 year old daughter. She spends a lot of time watching and assessing a situation with other kids before she is willing to engage. She has asked me before, “what if they don’t want to play with me?” Her question isn’t about whether or not the game she suggests will be acceptable, but rather, will she. Will she be seen and accepted? What gets me the most is that I can’t tell her for sure how it will go. Every situation is different, every group of people lying in their own spectrum of openness and acceptance. So my dilemma is this, how do I instill “self-love” resilience? I know it will help her during the sting of rejection by not letting it destroy her or define her but I struggled with this so intensely for most of my life that I’m not sure I am the best example. I deeply wish for her to feel whole and that she “belongs” even when someone else says she doesn’t.
I was recently introduced to Brene Brown’s Parenting Manifesto and I LOVE it! I cried the first time I read it out loud because it is with my deepest of wishes to be this type of parent and to give my kids this type of parenting experience. I know that they will be better human beings because of it. However, I’m not sure I know how to implement one particular commitment.
“Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.”
I could really use some real life examples of ways that you have been able to be with your kiddos and teach them how to feel it.
As always, I am in great gratitude for your sharing, and your company on this journey.
To see the entire Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto, click below: It’s amazing.