“Parent truthfully,” I love this phrase! I think I may have coined it even. Admittedly, the phrased hasn’t picked up the traction I predicted. I thought it would go viral with the first post. It has not gained in popularity, but nevertheless, it’s gold. Even if I do say so myself, and am the only one saying so.
Parenting truthfully is one of my strongest beliefs, and most common piece of advice. Of course, there is not always room for complete truth. Nobody wants to cause a mini-mind to short circuit.
Truth is kind of like a delicate ballet, on a tight-rope while wearing high-heels. For some, for me, it may also have the added feeling as if there is below a fiery pit below full of snakes waiting below to eat you. The truth can be scary, damaging, powerful, and healing – all at the same time.
It was so, so hard to know what to say, and where to stop. I’ve definitely fell off the rope on more than one occasion.
It’s difficult to parent truthfully; difficult, but important. It was my belief honesty was key even when it was a challenging, unpopular, or terrifying – especially then.
I felt if Michael couldn’t trust me for the truth he wouldn’t bring his questions to me. Age appropriate language, concepts, and attention must all be considered. The truth is exhausting, and everything.
Michael was about age eight, we came across the country to visit my ailing Mom. We intended to stay only weeks; however, we remained, never returning to the home, the neighborhood, the school, the province, or the friends Michael had come to know and love.
My heart was broken, our hearts were broken.For many reasons, on many levels, this was such a difficult time. I parented as truthfully and as softly as possible.
Michael expressed upset that he did not get to say good-bye, to anyone. He had every reason to be upset and I gave him space for that.
I shared my disappointments as well as my reasons. I explained to him it was not our intention to trick him, or withhold the truth from him. I supported his feelings, and justifiable upset.
I didn’t defend myself, or shut him down. I didn’t make excuse, guarantees or false promises. I explained, listened, loved, and repeated.
This was a most difficult decision and a most difficult time. Michael did not have to wait, wonder, or wish. He had responsible adults with willingness to explain, understand and support. He was permitted to be pissed off.
We had many follow-up conversations on life and the meaning of it. Michael learned choices aren’t always easy and sometimes there is no winner. He learned making the best decision doesn’t always feel good, in fact, it often doesn’t feel good. These are hard lessons for a little boy and also hard on not-so-little people.
Truthful conversations take time, finesse, love, follow-up, and most of all guts. It’s important to remember, although laboursome, draining, at times heart-wrenching, the truth is worth every painful second.