Mama Drama & the Dalai Lama: Thanks for Not Oversharing
As our children get older, it can become harder to know how much to share without oversharing. When my kids were younger, I was just mom; the person that had no other role but to nurture and protect them. As they began to mature, suddenly I wasn’t just mom anymore, but a real and actual person with my own thoughts and feelings. I have learned that when we get to this curious stage in the relationship with our kids, there is a danger of crossing boundaries and forgetting that at the end of the day, they are still our children and we, their parent. This balance is really important to find –and then to maintain – for the emotional well-being of everyone.
While it’s important that our children see us as breathing, feeling human beings, it is equally important that we recognize when we are crossing the line between parent and friend, and have the emotional maturity to catch ourselves and stop the behavior. Honestly, sometimes I’m not even sure that any of us even know when we’re doing it. I’ve observed parents talking to their children like little adults. Hey, while I think it is important not to talk down to our kids, at the end of the day we have to remember that they are not yet equipped to think or act like adults.
I knew a mother back in second grade who, in my opinion, shared WAY too much in front of her kids. I vividly remember sitting in the car with her and her children, listening to her vent her anger and frustration about their father (they were going through a nasty divorce). I would look in the rear view mirror to see the boy miserably looking down at the floor while his sister jabbed him violently in the side with her elbow with such a look of anger in her eyes. It didn’t surprise me at all when I heard that both of the kids were thrown out of a department store for pulling over a Christmas tree covered with ornaments worth hundreds of dollars. These poor things were so desperate for their parent’s attention and just to be kids, I guess they figured that this would surely get them some much-needed attention.
Just to be fair, the complete opposite isn’t ideal either– I’m talking not sharing anything at all. I would say that judging by all of my daughter’s friends who call them “lucky” to have a mom that they can talk to, there are probably a lot more parents who are under-sharers with their kids than over-sharers. I couldn’t even begin to count how many young people that I have counseled over the year– whether they’re kids in classes I was subbing for, or my own friends’ kids. It never ceases to amaze me just how many kids feel like they can’t talk to their parents, and that’s a real pity, because the world is a very complicated place to navigate on your own, especially when you’re a kid or teen.
Just because we might have been raised by either over-sharers or under-sharers, doesn’t mean that we have to end up repeating history with our own kids. The human brain is the most reprogrammable system in all of nature, so there is really no excuse why we can’t create a healthy balance with our offspring if we are willing to make some changes in ourselves. Parents often ask me, “How do you have such a good relationship with your kids? Mine don’t talk to me at all.” I assure them that it isn’t magic and that it’s certainly not always easy. I just try to remember that even though they are my children, they are also unique spiritual beings having a human experience.
Do you often catch yourself crossing that line between being a parent and friend, or are you more of an under-sharer when it comes to your kids? Share your thoughts with us.
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