A friend shared a quote on Facebook recently that really resonated.
I was reminded of an incident at Emma’s school where an educator raised their voice at a kindy kid who was talking during assembly. And when I say raised their voice I mean they screamed and publicly humiliated that child. I was mortified. And the more I think about it the more it really upsets me. I have no doubt that the child was doing the wrong thing. Equally I know that if it were my child she would have been a quivering mess after such an encounter. And I also know the response I’d get – she must be more resilient.
As parents we are bombarded with scripts and checklists and how to’s, that translate into parent shaming and parent guilt, and I’m not about to add to that. I’m so far from the perfect parent we wouldn’t recognise each other! But as I keep thinking about the quote above, I can’t help but think there’s a path here that I don’t want to take. We talk about building ‘resilience’ and yet is seems to be translating into something else.
I want my children to be strong. When something doesn’t go their way, or when something truly hurts, I hope that they will be able to tap into a sense of self, a sense of courage and of love, and to draw on their family and friends to deal with the situation. To feel those feelings of sadness and anger and whatever comes along with them, and know that there is always a light to balance them. What I don’t want is for them to harden their heart, to build an armour that prevents all things from entering. Even the good stuff.
Last week Harry was crying about something inconsequential, something little boys or girls get upset about, but not something that was life changing. Regardless, his little heart was broken and he was crying. As I stood there, trying to lift him up from the floor Emma turned to him and said ‘Be resilient Harry and get over it’. Not a hint of sarcasm or anger, just offered as instruction. Something she’s heard before I realise, extolled as though it’s the ultimate virtue. But it seemed to me she was being toughened to the heartache of others, that being resilient meant distancing herself from her emotion and that of others. Emma and I have chatted about it on and off since.
My daughter is quirky. Amazing. Interesting. Curious. Beautiful. My son is cheeky and loving and funny and kind. Both a million different things. Tough, resilient or hardy are not amongst the first labels that jump to mind when I think of my children, nor do I want them to be. Confidence and character are important, but so are kindness, compassion and empathy. I don’t want to toughen them against the dark, but help them to contribute to the light.
This of course is my view, and my reading of the events I’ve mentioned and the quote I’ve shared. I don’t profess to be some great parenting expert, just a Mummy who paints furniture I’d love to know what you think to – how do you feel about resilience?