I liked this photo so I posted it to my page and it caused some debate amongst parents both on and offline. Perhaps I’m reading more into this, but I wanted to share my story about connecting with my children and it has nothing to do with them being compliant. At first glance, these words would appear to mean that if you are connected to your children they will cooperate with you. They will honor your every whim because the two of you are so close. That’s not how I feel when I read this quote. Let me explain and you just might think differently about that mom with a screaming kid at the grocery store. Just maybe.
My oldest son has sensory issues and struggles with social interaction. School has always been a challenge. He is very smart and loves learning, but is often disturbed by the behaviors of his peers. Not they they are necessarily behaving badly, but just like kids-unpredictable. Now as a third grader, he has learned how to cope with the behavior of others and control how he reacts when uncomfortable situations arise. I have been proud. So, proud because I know for a kid like him it’s difficult to learn and to put into practice these coping skills. Some children never really learn how and it becomes a life long struggle. So, imagine my surprise when he wakes up one morning crying that he doesn’t want to go school. Homework last night was difficult and we had to fight through some tears, but this just didn’t make sense. I tried being the supportive parent and tried talking him through all the reasons why he should be going to school. I switched hats at some point and was the bad cop. I insisted he get dressed, brush his teeth and get going. Then it hit me, something must really be wrong. He never acts like this at all. I put his brother on the bus with the intention of driving him to school after I talked him down off the ledge. Does this sound like he is being cooperative? Are we connecting? We were connecting, more than I imagined.
After keeping him home from school that day I learned my lesson in connection. To make a long story short, when I finally was able to confront him about his actions this is what happened:
ME: Do you do this at school? They have never called me to tell me that you are crying. Do you cry like this at school?
SON: No, no.
ME: Then why are doing it with me?
SON: Because you will love me no matter what. I’ll get in trouble at school if I cry. Here I can be me and tell you how I feel. It’s just been too much. I needed a break. I just couldn’t do it today.
ME: ( This is where we hug and I start crying, too.)
As I see it, he was connected with me and I was the one that was not cooperating. When I cooperated and we became equals I connected with him. He was then able to tell me why he was “not” cooperating with me. In that moment when your child isn’t cooperating with you, he/she are just trying to tell you something. That something might also just be “Mom, I’m independent and just don’t want to it” or it could also be, ” Mom, Aunt Sara pinches my cheeks and tries to feed me fig newtons. I don’t want to eat fig newtons!” ( OK, that’s an odd one, but you get my point.) While I was seeing his behavior as not cooperating, he was seeing a connection where he was able to express his feelings without being judged.
On another note, if you are raising a free thinking, free spirited child, them not “cooperating” is probably exactly what you want. There are so many ways to read into these words. See the positive!