There are some particular ways that children can become stuck in patterns of thinking, feeling and acting as a result of growing up in an unhealthy family system. This is predictable.
#1. NEEDS AND DREAMS are for someone else. I have two grandchildren at the moment and my intention is to listen to their needs and dreams, not constantly correct how they communicate them. I am loving this job of Meme!! There is a fine line between training a child to not be obnoxious and teaching a child that their needs are not a problem. When an adult is insecure they want control and this often means caring more about what others are thinking about their child’s behavior than they are studying what their children need at each developmental stage. The terrible two’s, in my opinion, are only terrible if a parent wants a baby that acts more like a doll than a son or daughter. Sure, the loudly voiced “NO’S!!!” and frustrations that come from not being able to communicate what their little brains are already capable of processing is tough - but it is developmentally appropriate.
In unhealthy families, parents are stressed out about other things. They often are inattentive, do not have time to to do the hard and patient work of listening and providing. This creates an early memory of feeling unheard.
One of my brothers tells a story of wanting to play football when he was a kid; instead, he was allowed to sign up for basketball because he could walk to the sign up station. The coaches provided him with a practice basketball because my mom sent him with a kickball or some such non-regulation ball. My mother probably didn’t know the difference.
She meant no harm; but my brother has vivid memories about this story, including his gratitude for a coach who was kind. I think it is no mistake that my brother is the guy who shows up for all his kids events; he supports their dreams. But that is also not a particularly predictable response. He is one of those wonderful men who learned from the past without getting stuck in the spin cycle of his memories.
My niece Kaitlin, my birthday twin, was a preschooler when she announced she wanted to be a Veterinarian. My brother made her a vet clinic. Last spring he pulled that 20 plus year plywood clinic out, repainted it and used it as a photo booth - AT HER GRADUATION FROM VET SCHOOL!!!
So here’s the deal - we can learn from the mistakes of others, even the unintentional ones. But this requires us to “get unstuck”!! For the next few days I’m going to take a timeout from talking about getting unstuck and provide some biblical context. Stay tuned!