I believe that the more self-aware we are as parents, the better we are at holding space for our young adults and allowing them the process of finding their way through this beautiful, hard, excruciating, and sweet gig of life. If you are wondering what self-awareness is, it entails being attuned to your inner world and your motives and desires, and having the ability to monitor your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts so that you act more consciously and more compassionately.
With increased self-awareness, we are able to allow our children more space to grow and evolve without having a set agenda of what we think they need to be to be okay. Their beings are less about us and more about them. We tend to think that they are a reflection of us and our parenting, and I think to a certain degree that is true. But when it comes to figuring out the question Who Am I?, this is theirs to answer and ours to respect and hold space for them to explore. Instead of trying to fix our young wobbly insecure adults, or shield them from the pain and struggle, or solve their problems, consider holding space for them and teaching them how to feel their feelings, go through the hard and messy, and build a skill set to problem solve on their own. What about just letting them be angry, or sad, or scared and not doing anything to take it away, but to be with them as they figure it out. Unconditional love and support, guidance, stability, and reassurance is really the best we can give to our budding adults.
Teaching our children to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, to feel the sad, to express the anger without exploding and inflicting pain on others, and to acknowledge the fear without covering it up. These are the ingredients to build health and wellness and emotional resiliency. As a society, we have taken a path of shielding our children from the hard and not teaching them how to express their feelings and behave in ways that serve them while also taking accountability through their own self-awareness. Many of our young adults are depressed, irritated, and anxious. Is it any wonder?
Instead of fixing the hard, maybe choose to listen instead. Ask questions. Hold her. Hold him. Gently inquire about what is going on and help them process through their emotions. Do they want advice or support? Why are they feeling sad? Insecure? Angry? What are the thoughts that they are having on repeat that are only perpetuating their feelings? Is there another thought that they can have that softens these feelings and allows for some relief?
One of life’s biggest secrets is that feeling our feelings will not swallow us whole. Sadness, anger, and fear always feel like they will take us down and render us powerless, but once you feel any and all feelings, they eventually release. They move through you, usually within minutes. The gift of having a parent or friend with whom to feel them allows for a bringing together. It strengthens your bond. It builds confidence. Resiliency. And most importantly, it offers the soothing properties necessary to know that feelings are to be felt but they won't stick around for long if we give them their due. Your feelings offer excellent data points for understanding who you are and how you are wired. You don't have to act on them. Learn from them and what they are telling you, and then respond from a place of awareness. You are going to be okay. Even in the struggle, it's all good.