Age Awareness

8 Aug

{This post is part of a recurring series of thoughts about perspective with our children}

As we grow and experience life, our view changes constantly. It is hard to find a more important tool than perspective to enable us to better understand the subtle nuances and issues in all of our relationships, especially our relationship with our children. We, as parents, have to take the time and spend the energy to step outside of our ‘age’ awareness and put ourselves in their shoes. This is very difficult even in the easiest of times, and it is possible that our experiences are so different than our children’s that we simply can not put ourselves in their shoes. In this case, we have to work even harder, use our imagination, and stretch our reality. This is not easy for most of us.

Perspective Takes Consistent Work

I know a single mother who was completely unable to understand her 11-year-old son’s reluctance to play Little League baseball. She kept telling him, “It’s a really fun game. All your friends are playing.” Because she was unable to put herself in the same place as her son, she didn’t realize that he was actually embarrassed to play. When it was his turn to bat, he was afraid of getting hit by the ball. This is a common initial fear when learning baseball, but how would you know this if you had never played? I suggested that she talk to her son and let him know that she did not understanding the game of baseball and ask him why he was having so much difficulty. After a bit of nudging, he told her everything (it seems that we always want to tell our moms everything). I also advised her to think back to her childhood, try to identify a similar experience, and then talk to him from that perspective. She easily remembered playing kickball when she was in the fourth grade and experiencing the very same fear. At that moment she completely understood her son’s apprehensions and emotions. This simple exercise turned their relationship around. It did not fix everything, but the boy began to behave and listen to her because she was able to acknowledge or empathize with his experience.

Unfortunately, she did not continue relating in this manner when issues became more complex, and she lost credibility. A couple of years later, the boy was out of reach and reluctantly went to live with his dad. They have since patched up their relationship but they each lost the opportunity to share their lives with each other. Understanding and incorporating another’s perspective takes consistent work, and must be applied in all relationships all the time, especially with our children.

To read more posts in this series, come back to read Getting On Their Level on August 15th.

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