I played a lot of imaginary games growing up. I had a set one that I always immersed myself in. I had a large family of dolls I did everything with.
My role; The mom, Of course.
I played it well. I did everything for my doll children. I clothed them, fed them, tended to their needs and sometimes they “got into trouble”, which for some reason was the more dramatic of events in any game day.
I fulfilled the role to the last. I slipped in and out of the game as naturally as waking up each morning.
What was once pretend is often referred to as role-playing now according to my daughters.
We all have roles to play, don't we? And we don't even need detailed costumes.
We are the employers, the employees, we're the wife, husband, doctor, lawyer, we're the bestie, the frenemy, the jock, the girlfriend. Perhaps we're even the social awkward, introvert or extrovert.
We're the woo, the witchy, the bitchy. We're conservative, liberal, or activist.
Roles show up everywhere in life.
Same as clubs... the mom club, the anti-vaxer club, the pro-lifer club... the entrepreneur club.
But, today I want to talk with you about how the role of a parent particularly is holding us in a place of management and of control, and actually keeping us from the present awareness we all would like to see nourishing between ourselves and our kids.
I then want to introduce you to the power of Relationship, which encourages us to dive deeper into who we are.
Roles, are defined by characteristics, by shoulds and by “just what we do.”
Parents cook, clean, discipline, never sleep and keep things together. They can be frantic while their children are young and devastated by an empty nest. A parent lectures, rants, and tries to do what's best for their children... at the same time, their children will role their eyes, not listen and push against what's suggested.
It can sound stereotypical for sure, but like with all stereotypes, we can look at the data, check the boxes and find it all adds up. Because, we always get what we look for, right?
But, within that definition of our “role” a few things start to happen.
It feels like the very system of roles and rules create the parenting experience we are consciously trying to move away from. This isn't to say the activities that make up the role needs to change, rather our perspective of it.
Let's shift for a moment to how this looks in a real life scenario.
A parent comes in to find their child in a mess. There's crayons all over the floor and a new artpiece of scribbles on the freshly painted walls. (I remember my son doing this to an old car of ours with a rock once. He made it look so much prettier in his eyes. We just were thankful it was old!)
The role of PARENT dictates that this is bad behavior, and it is the job of the parent to teach this child to not do this ever again. The parent knows what they should do... and in the background of their minds,
the momentum starts to build:
The fear that this sort of behavior will extend well past the normal years, the parent mind flitters over to in-laws reactions, social media reactions and then back to what damage we'll be offering our children by flipping out! From this place we spark guilt, while at the same time we go on a mental hunt for the best solutions we can drum up from what we've read, scrolled past, gathered and been past down.
How can we do our best within our role for our child?
Meanwhile, our child is wondering what's going on, if they are in trouble, why we're shouting and panicing and also if we like the picture they drew.
It may sound tongue and cheek but I think it's safe to say it's simply an exaggerated image of something that happens often for most parents.
So, with that image in place,let's put it up on a shelf for a moment.
What is a relationship?
A relationship is a connection between two people.
Two, individual people, with their own thoughts, ideas, instincts, soul connection, divine spirit and life journey.
With love as a foundation they hold space for each other, support each other and offer each other tools when needed and available.
A loving relationship for a parent and child acknowledges that one person has been here on earth a lot longer than the other, so they have certain tips to pass on, which they can explain why and hows with.
A relationship is connection. Not just about connecting with your children... but with yourself.
Because within a relationship who you really are is the only definition you need.
A relationship is a partnership and connection between two people. The focus is a present awareness of yourself and who you want to be in this equation. Without the peanut gallery of opinions, rule makers and role- creators.
Now, here's the funny thing. Even within the relationship perspective, you will find yourself doing the things that most role-playing parents are doing.
You'll feed your children, you'll help dress them, you'll make sure they are bathed and cared for. You'll nurse them when they are sick and hold them when they get hurt.
There's just an intricacy of why that shifts. It's not the motivation of have tos or shoulds that has you tucking them in at night. Rather it's the focus of love and connection that wants them to feel secure and cared for.
So, rewind to the child, the artist, who's drawn on freshly painted walls.
The relationship focused parent walks in, sensing that things have fallen very quiet in the other room.
They see the artwork, and in first gasp, panics.
They acknowledge their own upset.
“The freshly painted walls!” “The markers were left out!” “Oh no!”
And with a deep breath, they concentrate on the word Relationship... and the energy of the moment changes.
Rather than frantically scanning mental files for best ways of dealing with this moment, the relationship mom or dad pauses and finds center. They find themselves, since a relationship is between 2 people and can't exist when one doesn't show up.
Present and aware, embarking on the relationship space, the parent then can calmly go to their child, interrupt the art, understand they didn't know they were doing something they shouldn't be, they can explain the importance of paper, help each other clean up, shift to the space of WHY and then distract, move on and shift to getting a snack or focusing on something else for a bit, only to use the experience for later down the road with compassion and understanding.
Again a stereotype? Maybe.
Attachment parenting or positive parenting model of the role of a parent, most possibly.
If you see parenting a role from a peaceful parenting perspective, chances are your actions might have been exactly the same as the relationship model.
But, the energy, the openness of relationship is a powerful fuel to empower you to be peaceful on an off day.
It also always asks you to do one thing... to connect with the relationship of yourself as well.
We're dealing with intricacies, and a shift in perspective that just breathes a little more in the way of openness and allowing.
You know, words are interesting, as they each represent different energies and intentions, even in the subtlest of ways.
I remember when I was studying energy healing, we worked with the difference between the words Offer and Give. It was actually quite profound, even though it doesn't seem like it would be.
Roles will always be in our lives, and with them there's always a list of shoulds and expectations.
But within the relationship, that list can organically and lovingly unfold, from a space of connection and authenticity.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.