How To Reduce Stress In Kids
Lessons From The Road Part 2
Your Kids Need You (but not in the way you think)
On the road there would be times when I’d feel stressed or anxious about things, and I would turn to my kids and see what they needed. I’d offer to make my daughter a sandwich and she’d let me know that she can make her own sandwich. Or I’d ask my younger daughter if she needed help with anything and she would be playing with her toys and say, “No, I’m good,” and I would still be looking for something to do with my anxiety and my stress.
And then I would grab my guitar, go and sit outside the trailer and I would practice guitar for a bit and get myself into a calmer state. Find myself in a good place.
Then you know what would happen like magic? The girls would come outside and they’d want to hang out. They’d maybe want to play guitar or just play and they’d want to be around me in a different way than when I was just trying to do things that I thought they needed. I learned through experiences like these that what my daughters need is not always what I think they need.
When I see Karuna hurting, she does not need me to talk to her. She needs me to be present, to be kind. I give space; to love her and not try to solve it. She does not need me to solve all of her challenges.
Your kids need you, but not in the way you may think. They need your presence and undivided attention. They need your clarity and peace of mind. They need you to make them feel part of the team. They need you to feel like they’re part of the family unit and that they belong and they’re wanted and that they matter. They need you to start letting go, way before you actually want to.
For instance, my 9-year-old daughter is going off to sleep away camp for two weeks, and I can already feel this letting go process begin. She’s her own person in this world. She needs me to trust her. She needs autonomy, not control. Boundaries and safety with a lot of freedom to roam.
So your kids also need basic sustenance, food, shelter, and all the basic needs that we as parents work to provide. But if you notice in that list there are certain things that they don’t necessarily need. They don’t need you to buy them everything that they ask for. They don’t need you to tell them things that aren’t true. They don’t need you to pretend to be something that you aren’t.
In fact, your kids need you to be happy. And they can’t make you happy. Your kids need you to not make them the source of your happiness. That is a heavy burden to put on your children.
When you are in your own state of happiness because of how you’re choosing to live your life, your kids benefit tremendously.
If you had to live in a home with three other people, would you enjoy it if they were all stressed out, overwhelmed, and anxious? Probably not. You would love your roommates to be happy, peaceful, fun to be around. Present. Enthusiastic about life.
I know it’s strange to say that parents and kids are like roommates, but in some ways, we are, right? We inhabit the same home, and it’s a good analogy to help us to see how our kids could be impacted by our own life choices, by our own state of consciousness, by our own vibration. So much of the work in the family is the parents’ work.
Because face it, kids just love being kids. Kids are not in a position to do all kinds of personal work, reflection work. Kids aren’t looking to go to meditation retreats. It’s the parents who are looking to do that because of our lifetime of struggles and sufferings; people being unkind to us; mistakes and being in and out of all kinds of difficult challenges, all in contrast to what we want to do in our lives.
So it’s our work to overcome the stress and the struggles, to come into equilibrium so that we can be there for our children in the ways that they need us most. All so that they can face a lifetime of triumphs and challenges with the patience and resolve that we were able to show them. Our kids need us, but not always in the ways that we think they do. How we show up for our children matters.