“It’s our differences, and our negotiation of difference, that unite us.”- Andrew Solomon
My daughter and I are very different people. So different that I often have trouble understanding where she is coming from. I watch my child happily chatting up whomever happens to be standing next to us in the grocery store checkout line and I am baffled as to how two introverts such as my husband and I could have possibly brought forth this extremely social child. I don’t get it, and what I’ve come to understand more lately is that I may never get it. It is not my job to get it. However, it IS my job to support who she is. This is very challenging.
It is perhaps the most challenging thing I face parenting her. To see her objectively, without expectations and judgements. To simply watch how she presents herself to the world at the moment of my observation and to not let that observation cloud future moments of observation. Its crazy-making, but as crazy-making as this is, it is what allows me to have far more patience with her (and I don’t have much patience so every little bit I can muster is cause for celebration). In giving myself this little bit of space, I try to understand her perspective.
When I can gain these small insights into her world, I become more accepting of who she is and how she is perceiving the world around her. It is precisely this notion of “acceptance” that drew me to writer Andrew Solomon’s TED talk. His presentation centers around the idea of parents unconditionally accepting their children for who they are. He postulates that this is the basis for a deep parent-child understanding that allows us to move through the more difficult moments and challenges we will face together, and ultimately gives our children the space to grow up and become who they came here to be.
This is precisely what I, as a parent, am trying to do for my child: To give her the guidance and space to feel comfortable being true to herself despite external factors. I want her to be the truest version of herself she can be.