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As parents, we often get caught in the trap of perceiving our children’s behavior as fixed patterns. We may make statements like, “my daughter never wears skirts,” or “my son always does this,” only to be proven wrong the next day. This week, I want to talk about this tendency to get stuck on one way of seeing our children and how we can move beyond it.

In Colorado, where I live, in the spring the weather is as unpredictable as a child’s preferences. One day we have snow, and the next it’s 60 degrees. Our children are similarly changeable. Even when we think we have them figured out, they surprise us. They never remain the same, and this is the one thing we can count on.

The issue arises when we fixate on a certain behavior or trait and start to see our children through a single lens. This one-sided vision can block us from recognizing the small yet constant changes happening in our children. When we are fixated in one way of seeing our child, we are unable to move forward; we get stuck.

I have had many parents approach me with concerns like “my kid is always angry,” or “my kid never helps out in the house.” These sentiments represent a kind of black and white thinking that does not reflect the reality of the situation. If you find yourself fixated on such thoughts, I encourage you to broaden your vision and notice the instances where your child’s behavior contradicts your assumptions.

For example, my daughter, whom I thought never helped with chores, turned out to be extremely helpful in situations outside our usual dynamic. When she was with her friends, she was always the first to lend a hand. Other parents would often tell me how helpful she was, leaving me in disbelief.

So, if you catch yourself thinking in absolutes about your child’s behavior, challenge yourself to look beyond. Ask yourself, “Where am I pushing or pulling? Where am I being one-sided?” Sure, parenting can be challenging, and we might have this idea that our children are supposed to help us. But it’s important to remember that our children are not obligated to fulfill our expectations.

So, let’s play with this concept in the coming week. If you notice yourself thinking in black and white terms about your child’s behavior, remember that it’s not the absolute truth. Be willing to look a little bit wider, a little bit deeper, and see all sides of your child.