There is something very liberating when you stop wanting people to change or to change people.
We get easily annoyed when people are not acting the way we would like them to. We have so many expectations about just anything and anyone.
We often think that life would be so much easier if only our ex-partner could act in a certain way, of course preferably the way that would please us.
Likewise if our kids could do exactly as they were told, we would not have to act as ‘police officers’ with them so much of the time.
I remember a time, just after my separation, when I found my son very difficult to ‘handle’.
Life was becoming a struggle, I was on my own for the very first time in my entire life, with 2 kids to look after. I had always dreaded that moment.
A ‘strong willed’ 5 year old
My son was 5 at the time, and had (and still has) a very strong character.
Tantrums were a big thing for me, and I could not get used to them. I felt terrible and tired, not knowing how to respond apart from jumping in and telling my son how he should behave. We had a very tough relationship.
Who has never dreamt of the perfect and very gentle child, respecting all the rules and doing exactly as Mummy says?
Well, things started to change when I finally let go of my need to change him and I finally accepted him exactly as he was, without trying to force him to behave in the way I had decided. I simply saw that he was very different from his sister, after all we are all unique, and I had to make peace with that.
I started to love and accept him exactly as he was, embracing his uniqueness rather than fighting against it.
The relationship totally transformed. No more confrontations. Whenever there now is a moment in which he is feeling extremely angry, I know that there is no point in me interfering and telling him how wrong I think he is.
I just take time to be present, listen and understand him. Understand where he is coming from. And know that he is doing the best he can with what he has in the moment.
The moment generally does not last more than 5 minutes, and we discuss any issue only when he has calmed down.
You see, when the head clears, there is an opportunity for fresh new thinking that no one could have in a negative state of mind. You gain a new perspective on the situation and solutions you had not even thought of start to arise. I also now always encourage my son to come up with his own answers. This is a great place to start once the storm is over.
A very productive way to handle any situation. And to me, this has been very liberating.
Interview by Suzy Miller of Alternative Divorce Guide