As a school psychologist working in a high school, I have the privilege of interacting with a multitude of people – adults and adolescents alike – with a common purpose; to help each other do their best each day at school and when the school day is through. Each time a parent, student, or teacher courageously walks into my office or picks up the phone to contact me, initiating some level of support, there is a striking similarity to most all referrals that come through my doorway. Regardless of the nature of the situation requiring help or support, it is almost certain that the people involved feel a sense of isolation – often deeply so – as if they are completely alone. For any of us who have felt that sense of isolation, how much courage it takes to reach out and ask for help ! Sincerely, be it a parent asking for feedback from a teacher, a teacher asking for help from a school psychologist, or an adolescent asking help from anyone is incredibly difficult.
Cultivating a trusting relationship with our children in which they feel comfortable coming to us for help, where they feel able to talk openly without being criticized or judged can take tremendous work and restraint. Often some outside support from another trusted resource, say your own mother, a sister, a good friend, or counseling can be helpful. Our relationship with our children goes through stages just as they move through their own developmental stages. What they need from us at age 8 looks different from what they need from us at age 17. And while we are always trying to adapt to their changing needs, how challenging it is to know exactly what that is! Each of our children will be so different and will need different things at different times. What to even say to children then?! What to do ? I’m going to shamelessly take the words my amazing older sister wrote to her youngest daughter this morning (thank you Laurie and Maggie, I love you!) ……’I held your hand as you crossed the street and as you boarded the plane. I’ll keep holding your hand through every step of this wild and wonderful thing called life.’ In other words, while I won’t have all the answers, just as when you were younger, I will be there for you.
And that is all that we can offer each other as women ( & men) I think. But it’s really quite a lot. None of us have to walk this confusing parenting and life path alone. Whether we are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, fathers, uncles, teachers, counselors, psychologists, and so on…Whether we have given birth or not. We truly are all in this together. And while none of us have ‘your answer,’ you don’t need to do this alone.
Have a Wonderful Mother’s Day!
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