Sunday, 2 February 2014

family dynamics

Love Letter to My Daughter
(which I composed in the car on the way to a meeting this morning)

It’s me who doesn't see the beautiful person that you are
And the growing potential you have to be a kind and loving star
It’s me who doesn't see all the wondrous gifts you have
And all the quirky things you do to make other people laugh
It’s me who’s frosted glasses mean I cannot clearly see
The marvellous, eccentric person standing right in front of me
I need to take off those glasses and make sure I get a proper view
Of the person who stands before me, the very special you
I'm sorry that I sometimes yell at you – squashing your authentic self
Instead of nurturing those unique traits that add to your true wealth
I'm sorry that you feel that I love your brother more than you
Because you think I am more like him and daddy is more like you
Maybe sometimes that is what I show you and that is my fault and not yours
So here is my promise to you – a mother-daughter relationship clause
I will try to take the time to see you for the unique person that you are
And try to help you continue to be a kind, loving, authentic star

I have been having a hard time recently with connecting with my dd.  She’s an amazing, eccentric, quirky, beautiful, funny, joyful, caring, sharing, helpful 9 yo.  She is also very, very different to my ds whom I seem to be on the same wavelength with and so that makes the times when dd is pessimistic, unhelpful, a bit whiny, stubborn and a bit mean, more of a problem because those are not traits I would ascribe to my ds and they are traits which I find challenging especially when I am not in a good place myself.  

I love both my children unconditionally but I have to admit I do sometimes find it a lot easier to like my ds than my dd and I feel awful saying that.  And that got me thinking – why do I feel awful saying that?  When I quizzed my daughter about whether she understood, and therefore, “got on with” daddy more than me she said yes and I can totally understand why.  They have a similar outlook on life the same as ds and I do.  What I want to do though is make sure that my dd knows that I love her as much as I do my ds and that will never, never change.  I also want her to know that in life there are people who you are going to “get on with” more than others and that is ok too.  

However want I need to remember is to find a way to re-frame, or deal with, those traits which I find problematic so that they don’t grate as much.  At the same time I want to help my dd to maybe master the time and place where those traits are beneficial and don’t end up annoying or hurting people unduly.  I can totally see times when being whiny and a bit stubborn can be beneficial and even when being mean (maybe in a more constructive way) could actually have a positive outcome.  I cannot do that if I am not seeing the beautiful person my dd is under those characteristics and that is what I have been doing of late.  

As parents we have a huge responsibility to our children because we chose to have them.  My dd didn't choose to be born and also didn't choose to have those character traits that sometimes wind me up.  I have to see and nurture the best in her whatever she does and I need to love her even when I don’t feel like it.  But also I need to steer her to be the best she can be and that can never be done with putting her down or consistently having a go at her.  

I read my dd the above and asked her permission to put it on my blog.  She also said that in return for my trying to do what I have said, she will give me hugs in return.  Who could want for more than that!!

Following on a little later, my dd and I had a chat about stuff and we came up with the idea that she could make a badge that reads “I am upset and will talk about it when I am ready.”  This is because she says that she thinks she can be more annoying or whingey when she feels upset but that she doesn't always want to talk about it then.  We are going to try it and see if it works and she is also going to make one for daddy too!!!

This reminded me of the fact that a while ago dd, ds and I had a major discussion about how dd annoys ds and vice versa.  Dd tried to vocalise that she sometimes feels pressured to say sorry or work out how she feels too quickly in these scenarios.  There is an imago relationship theory about there being a maximiser and minimiser in every relationship (read about it here.)  My dh and I can definitely attest to that.  What is interesting though with our children is that it seems that ds is a maximiser like me  - where everything has to be out in the open and sorted out now (if not sooner) - and dd is a minimiser like my dh - where they need time to mull things over.  It can be a very frustrating dynamic from both sides but I would say more so when 2 maximisers are finding 1 minimiser annoying.  I had forgotten about this so having now written it as a blog post maybe I will be able to remember this minimiser/maximiser stuff and come up with other coping strategies for all of us to live life more harmoniously.

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