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What are we giving our children permission to do?

Another question stemming from that Oprah show I saw the other day...

Demi Moore said that if she had any regrets with regard to her mothering, it was that she wished she'd showed her daughters her weakness; that is that she'd allowed her daughters to see her being upset, and at odds with the world, and then see her sorting it out. She said that what we model for our children in our own lives is what we give our children permission to do. So, for her, it was that she felt she hadn't given her daughters permission to be less than strong and capable at every turn, and in doing so, she'd set them up to believe they had to achieve the impossible.

So, ok, I quite liked this, because I believe strongly in emotional honestly with my children. They have seen me cry and be afraid, and feel lonely and then they've seen be come out the other side and be ok. I agree with Demi that this is kind of important. If to our kids we're always coping, and always at the top of our game, then anything short of that in their own lives would be failure, right...

But of course, there is a flip side, and I'm always willing to look at the flip side...

What do I do that gives my children permission to be selfish, nasty, hypocritical and generally all those things we hope our kids won't be...

Right now, I'm doing one of those things, I'm telling my youngest I'll be "right there" and then proceeding to keep typing, even though he's been patient for 20 minutes already... So, I'd better go...

Comments

katef said…
This really rings true for me... I still (at 35) get panicky when I see my mum cry.... sure she cries when babies are born or when people leave on aeroplanes... but I grew up knowing that when my Mum really cried it must be bad.. REALLY bad because she just never did. She never got sick, she never fell apart...
I can identify in my own mothering feelings of not wanting to seem vulnerable or not ok in front of my children - always having to appear to be 'strong' even when I am not. I do try to let my children see me at my less than perfect moments but I find it really really hard....
Nalin said…
This is really interesting Sif - I think about this from time to time and really agree with you that they do need to see us in all our unglorious glory, but I also have a fear that if they do see these parts of me that somehow I will be failing them, that they need a rock and they need to know that they are safe no matter what and that I represent their safety and if they see me scared or upset then will they feel insecure? But I think most of me agrees with you.
I had a mum who was an absolute rock 99% of the time, but that other 1% she was bedridden with anxiety and threatened to kill herself. I think the middle ground is much healthier.
I think it also takes a healthy self esteem within the parent to be able to show their negative sides, to not always have to be on the pedestal of perfection.

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