I had a rude awakening recently when I experienced an unexpected health issue. I had an emergency surgery which required me to lie face down for 50 minutes of every hour for 2 weeks. My 2 young adult children had never seen me like this.
I have always kept the house clean, put meals on the table, coordinated carpools, held down a job, shopped for groceries, done laundry, and paid bills - you know, kept things running smoothly. I have modeled a capable, independent, confident, stable presence in their lives.
Because I am so used to thinking of others, making sure their needs are met, and offering my support always, I thought that when I needed help, I would get the same in return.
But really, my kids didn’t know what to do or how to help though the dishes piled up, the clutter accumulated, dirty laundry stacked up, and no food was in the house.
Perhaps my doing so much for my kids did not teach them how to think about someone else or how to offer support when that is needed. Instead, I modeled that someone would take care of the basics seamlessly.
What I really wanted was some compassion and ideally someone to pick up the slack without me having to ask. What I got instead was everyone carried on as usual, doing his own thing, getting homework done, hanging with friends while all of my roles fell to the wayside. Trust me, I get they are teenagers and boys but……
Through all of this I learned that I am terrible at asking for help. I don’t want to be a burden or a task master/nag; but, deep down I just wanted a simple “What can I do for you today, mom?” or “How are you feeling?”
Ultimately I want my kids to be successful, healthy, happy, and caring individuals. My behavior alone is not doing the job. I am committing to intentionally ask my kids what I can do for them and not just doing what I know needs to be done. And ask them to do something for me - this goes beyond chores etc. My thinking is that if I put an idea in their brains to think of someone else’s experience and needs and to increase their awareness of what it takes to run things seamlessly, maybe a little conscious awareness and a little compassion or empathy will develop.
I am curious if you can relate. Do you have some suggestions of ways to care for yourself and raise compassionate kids? Email me your success strategies and experience. email@example.com
We are all in this together.
Until next time,