It is hard for me to watch interactions between parents and their kids. Far too often, I see such a disconnect. Kids who aren’t getting their needs met, growing louder and stronger, begging for love in the most unloving of ways. Parents who aren’t getting their needs met, growing louder and stronger, trying to control whatever they can to protect their own inner childs.
Not only is it triggering for me at times, it also completely breaks my heart. Almost everywhere I go, I see children being talked down to, threatened, and overlooked. As if they are less than human. I hate that it is socially acceptable to treat little human beings that way. And I hate that society has made parents believe that they need to be hard on their kids to teach them how to be proper humans.
I hurt so badly for the kids who don’t feel heard or understood by the people they love and trust the most. Who are being hurt by their caregivers instead of helped. Who aren’t being treated like human beings with feelings and desires of their own. Because I know what that feels like.
And I hurt so badly for the parents who feel alone. Who feel so much pressure to be perfect and have perfect kids. Who are afraid of what their kids will turn out to be if they screw up. Who were hurt by their own caregivers instead of helped. Who don’t feel like anyone sees them as human beings with feelings and desires of their own. Because I know what that feels like.
We are all human. We are all imperfect. And we all hurt each other sometimes. We have deep needs and strong feelings, often communicated by children in their behavior. And in those moments when needs become visible, we can connect with each other in a common humanity, with empathy and listening and understanding. Or we can disconnect, with a protective defense and blaming and hurting.
I understand why it’s so much harder to go the route of connection over disconnection. For many of us, it’s not safe to connect. We were never taught to connect. Our own parents didn’t connect with us. Their parents didn’t connect with them. And on the cycle goes. It’s no one’s fault. It is incredibly hard as adults to do what we’ve never learned. And even harder to pass that on to our own kids.
Treating people like human beings is a lot of work when we’ve never been shown what that looks like. And it is completely heartbreaking for me to see hurting humans all around me, hurting others because they don’t know what else to do with their hurt. Because it’s too painful to live with. And I want them each to find healing and wholeness and connection. So they can learn how to love, and how to pass that on to the little ones who look up to them.
I speak up for children so often, because they are too rarely given a voice. They are truly powerless. They rely on adults for everything. We as parents, are most definitely hurting too. We are also the only ones who can do anything about it. We have the power to pursue our own healing, so the hurt doesn’t keep getting passed on from generation to generation. So we can begin to treat our kids like human beings. So they can learn to treat us like human beings. So we can treat each other like human beings. So we can all stop hurting each other as a reaction to our own pain.
Being a parent is hard. It comes with so much responsibility. So much work. So little sleep. And when we can see our children as human beings, with feelings and hopes and dreams and wants and needs, just like us… Deserving of love, care, empathy, compassion, and grace, just like us… Worth listening to, seeing from their perspective, trying to understand, getting to know, just like we would want… Something magical can happen. Beautiful relationships can bloom. We can begin to enjoy our families through the hard times. And our children can flourish beyond what we even thought possible.
Because children are people too. And people can do incredible things when they feel loved.