Thursday, February 27, 2014

Consequences and Coping

Lately, I've been thinking about the consequences of our actions and words, taking responsibility for those consequences, and sitting with negative emotion rather than fighting against it.

My son is at the age when he's beginning to be able to understand consequences. This is hard for me. It's about him pushing limits and as parents being strong enough to follow through on a consequence. For instance, when Munch repeatedly pokes a balloon with something sharp (I mean, not like scissors for God's sake) or lays on top of it and we say he will pop it if he continues, then he continues and pops it, I cannot run out to get him another balloon to stop the ensuing devastation. Actions have consequences.

My mother-in-law has told the story of when Hubs, in a bit of a rage, threw his favorite Garfield toy across the room and the plastic eyes split down the center. Hubs was devastated. He learned, actions have consequences.

Shit happens. And sometimes, we cause the shit to happen. It is hard for many people, myself included, to accept the consequences of our actions, and to "force" others to face the consequences of theirs.

As a mother, as the type of person I am, my instinct is to soothe soothe soothe. And of course when Munch does something dumb and REGRETS it, of course I can soothe him and hug him. But I can't always--and shouldn't always--fix it for him.

When something happens TO him, it will likely be even harder for me. When he doesn't make a team or a friend hurts him, I'm not going to be able to fix that either. I won't be able to remove the negative emotion.

I have an incredibly hard time sitting with feeling bad or angry or anything negative. In my brain, negative = bad = no love. If a family member is angry at me, it used to be, I would roil with anxiety and wring my hands and figure out how to "fix it," even if it wasn't truly my problem to "fix." Now, I'm working on it, trying to be better at COPING.

The ability to cope is one of the biggest gifts I can give my child. The ability to process a problem ON HIS OWN and come up with a resolution or at least lay those bad feelings to rest without pushing them away. This is what leads to a well-rounded adult with a healthy emotional range.

Smoothing out his life will not lead to him being able to cope. Life is hard, life sucks sometimes. He will have to learn that, FEEL THAT, experience that. And know that some problems will be his to figure out on his own, with Hubs and me as a constant soft place to fall when his efforts are not enough and his burdens grow too large. We will be the place to refuel and regroup, so he can dive back in again. This is what I want for my child, what I'm working to give him.

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