Monday, August 22, 2016

Act Your Age!

"Act your age!"

The girl is two years old and this is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.  Of course she's acting her age.  Not only that, but as parents we need to get down to the God-given treasure of individuation.  Children are continually in a process of becoming individuals.  What we often perceive as stubbornness, being difficult, or even evidence of original sin in conservative religious communities is actually none of it.  God or nature has simply wired our children to slowly turn into adults, and that means as parents, we bear the responsibility for caring for them in the midst of their transformation.

Don't get me wrong.  I get angry.  When my daughter won't stop climbing up on the couch even though she fell on her head two hours earlier, I get angry.  In my head, I've got two attitudes that are in conflict with each other.  The first one is, "Figure it out! and Stop opposing me!"  The other one, and the one that is true to my daughter's design is, "I am so stressed and frustrated, but I have so much joy watching you fighting to become your own individual.  I love it!"  

We need to maintain our boundaries with our children as much as possible because they love consistency and our care for them; yet, our children will continue to test our boundaries as they continue to fight for their personhood and individuation.  This behavior is obstinance, resolution, and determination, not disobedience.  In one hand we must hold our feelings of apprehension as they enter the risk involved with pushing the limits and opposing us, but on the other hand we must hold our feelings of joy in the other hand because they are acting from their God-given nature to fight for individuation.  Our children are resolute to become their own persons, and they can become their own individuals if we bless them in doing so.

In the end, we might feel like our children are trying to harm us through their individuation process, but this is absolutely not the case and far from it.  Instead of placing a burden on our children by telling them to "act their age" or to "figure it out", we need to be moving towards them with fear and joy, telling them with and without words that we are so scared about the risks they are taking, and frustrated over their obstinance, but that we are so elated and full of joy over their fight to become their own individuals in this world. 

Theirs are stories worth telling.

Photo taken from flickr creative commons with permission by mina ngiew win min @