Listening to a beautiful song by Jennifer Berezan, Returning To The Mother Of Us All, I asked what is it that is the mother of, and in, us all? And I heard deep inside “it is the privilege of holding the space for what wants to grow in a child.”
No matter what their challenges are when they come in to this world, there is something that they are passionate about and fully equipped to offer. But the truth is we are not the ones to tell them what it is. No more than they have the right to tell us what we are passionate about and want to develop.
Some children in this world have clarity of what that might be. They might fall into the categories society calls successful; a passion for science, medicine, the law, biology etc. Universities have a place for them and a path, if they are rich enough. I dare say this is not the majority of children in our world. But all the children have a calling to offer something totally unique that our world needs. That is the space we must hold for them, as they can get it nowhere else other than their home.
Giving them the space for them to grow in their unique offering is how their confidence and contributions in life start, where they can feel they are irreplaceable. They are listened to and witnessed when speaking their passion, even though it is not exactly definable.
What does this look like? Do you have a little rebel in your home that is always shouting how things aren’t fair? Listen to them and ask what they would do. It is not for you to agree or disagree, but for you to hold that space so they can keep imagining, discussing and learning.
Do you have a comedian, even though when young you are annoyed with their silly humor? Laugh with them, hold that space, and listen to them without criticism. Look at what was behind their comment. Make it interesting for you. Learn about them.Do you have one who loves to be bossy? Listen to his bossiness, and give feedback to develop consideration, but don’t stop it as he could have the skill of seeing the bigger picture and could articulate and direct how to help it develop, a great leader our world needs.
Do you have a storyteller, an exaggerator? Hold the space for her to go further, she could be our next writer, teacher, and journalist. At night ask her to tell you a story.
Do you have a singer without the beautiful voice? It doesn’t matter, encourage the singing if they are loving it, there is something that wants to grow in her through her passion, only she has the privilege of discovering that, you have the privilege of holding her space for that to bloom.
When your child is doing something over and over again that brings them liveliness and interest, witness it, don’t judge it, that’s where it starts. None of us has the knowledge of what will happen to them. But when we stifle their unique contributions, you can be sure low confidence, and all that comes with that will grow.
This is very important when your child has learning challenges and doesn’t do well in the normal stream of our educational system that has trouble fitting the needs of the majority. But when they are at home and have that space where they are heard and celebrated, no matter what the age (yikes, yes, even the teens) that is the gas that gets them through: their story telling, jokes, bossiness, writing, music, dance, drawing. Whatever it is they have loved and continued to develop, you have given them a space for this.
Know also that this isn’t quick, that’s why we have them for close to 18 years. It is a time of encouragement for trying, not necessarily succeeding, but always learning. As they get older and their challenges get tougher, your skill set of listening and witnessing are still strong and needed, especially when they act like it’s not.
My son at 24 had his aha moment when his travails and learning challenges gave him a direction. When he was 12 and educationally challenged child; I received a clear voice and direction. “Let go of worrying about grades and fitting in with other children, just be sure he laughs at least once a day. He is very articulate, encourage that. Listen and look at him when he talks, see what is growing. When you notice his bud, so will he.”