Holding hands

Friday, December 25, 2009

22 Year Old In My Lap

Something happened yesterday that made me feel so good about myself as a mom and so happy about my connection with my child that I just had to share it with you.

My 22 yr old came home looking a bit down. I asked him how his day was and he answered, "It was alright" in a way that didn't sound so alright. Trying to find out more, I responded with, "that sounds like you're alright in a not so alright way." After a bit he said, "It was just a long day." I didn't buy it.

At this point I wanted to reach out, by I had some of the same thoughts you might have had like: I don't know how to get him to talk to me; I don't know what to say; I don't want to be too pushy; It's too hard. I even had some feelings of being afraid I'd be rejected or not able to handle whatever it was. Nevertheless, I pulled up a chair, sat down and waited. (And even took a few deep breaths!)

I've learned the hard way that talking less or not at all is a much better invitation for a child to open up than pushing to find out what's wrong. My first unspoken clue to stay was that my kid didn't leave - so obvious, yet I almost missed it. Translation: "I want to be with you, mom." Slowly he began to talk a bit. As I listened, more came out.

I felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable at times both in saying nothing and trying to say the "right" thing. But that was ok. I didn't do it perfectly but I stayed! Being aware of my own feelings and as present as I could be to my child created the space for him to open up to me.

He became emotional, pulled his knees up under him on the chair and tucked his head down. As I looked at him, my perception shifted and the image was unmistakable - my child was curled up like a baby in the chair! I realized that here was the exact thing I'm always teaching parents about emotional age in times of stress - When we stress, we regress!"

I moved a little closer and took his hand. He let me (a clue I was on the right track.) I took baby steps to connect to that young age. My mommy heart was saying," I just want to take him in my lap and hold him!" My head was saying, "He's 22, he won't want that."

Despite my own hesitation, I wasn't feeling any resistance from my child, so I pulled gently and he came willingly out of his chair and right on to my lap, laying his head on my shoulder while I wrapped my arms around him -amazing. I held him in my lap, breathing and felt the rightness of it in my heart, knowing it was connection that was needed, not words.

A few minutes later he said, I'm thirsty and he got up to get a drink. He returned to his own chair able to tell me more about what was up.

I wanted to share this powerful experience with you because it shows how our children guide us to what they really need when we are able to translate what they are "saying." Awareness of the emotional age of my child has given me deeper connection with my child and helped him become more responsible and independent. What could be better?

If you're feeling frustrated and want to learn more about speaking your child's language, pick up your complimentary bonus report,"The 3 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Trying To Get Through To Their Child." by putting your name and email in the box at the top of this page.

Then, treat yourself to an individualized strategy session on me by emailing me today at kathy@parentingbeyondwords.com