I feel confronted by a challenge at the moment, and one I have to admit, I don’t yet have the answer to. I’ve been pondering it regarding myself for a while but am questioning the importance of instilling these values into our kids; the next generation. One of the things I struggle with as a parent is energy. It doesn’t come to me abundantly and I have to work hard, be strict with my own bedtimes, and find ways to recharge in order to ensure I have enough to avoid my own meltdowns. Yet, I find when I lack energy I fall into a thought pattern of negativity and consumerism. Why is it so much easier to find the dull rather than the delightful parts of the day? Why is it so much easier to plop in front of the TV as opposed to reading a book or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen? Why is it so much easier to think “I wish” rather than “I’m thankful for”? What kind of role model does this make me? I feel tested by the task of encouraging Poppi to be grateful in a society which promotes greed, to be positive in a culture of negativity, and to be a creator in an environment of consumerism. These may sound like sweeping generalisations, and I understand, to a certain extent, they are. However, as parents, I think we are facing quite a different civilization to the one we grew up in and therefore I think awareness and adaptation may be necessary.
But, before I go on, allow me to go back. As a therapist, I have learnt a valuable lesson regarding empathy. I 100% believe there is a place for empathy and understanding the needs of others. And, sometimes, this means, journeying with somebody into their depths of despair and negativity. A brave teenager taught me this. This individual had faced bullying at school to the point of attempting suicide. Not surprisingly this young adult dwelt in the colour black and could find very little to look forward to in life. However, one thing they valued was rainbows. I jumped on this! Great, something to be positive about and find life and colour. But that wasn’t what they needed. After discussing this case with my brilliant supervisor I came to the understanding that the adolescent needed me to go with them into their black world and appreciate how completely hopeless if felt. Without this understanding, rainbows and colour just showed I didn’t get it.
Often, I will pick Poppi up from school and ask how her day has been. More often than not, she will reply “bad”. I am then faced with the dilemma. Empathy vs search for positivity. I want to understand why it felt bad, but I also want her to find something in her day she can be grateful for. We were sorting through her playroom the other day and I was struck by the amount of “stuff” she has and how much of it she doesn’t even know she has. Poppi doesn’t have nearly as much as some of her friends but again, I was faced with another dilemma…when we have so much does it make it harder to be thankful for what we have?
Like I said, I don’t have the answer yet, but the thoughts are out there being pondered over. I’d love to hear what you think and if there are any actions you have put in place to help yourselves or your little ones become grateful human beings in a society where we are sickly blessed.