Sunday, May 3, 2009

Doing the best we can do

I love how my children remind me of important truths and am open to the lessons that they are here to teach me. So much healing has happened in my own life by listening to what they have to say and being open to a relationship with them in which I am not the only one here to teach. I don't know everything and never will and find such beauty in being open to what I need to learn from them.

This morning, we went to church, my younger son and I. We had a nice time together and talked about our ongoing kitty adventure series we make up for fun on our way to and from places. Today we were talking about what kitties should not do. Today, we decided that kitties should not try to fly. Anyway, when we got home, my son went into a full blown meltdown when we were trying to get lunch. In retrospect, he was starving. He hadn't eaten much before we left the house and it was already after 1PM by the time we got home.

I was a little more than hungry myself and a bit tired because I was up late last night, so I didn't have much patience. Not a good combination.

My son was yelling at me to get him this or that. I stopped and reminded him that I have a hard time when someone yells at me to do something, and asked if he could talk to me a little nicer and ask for what he wanted. He sobbed, "No, I can't." And in that moment, he couldn't. I sat with him to help him calm himself and once I felt he was calm enough to actually eat something, I took care of what he needed.

Once he got some food in his belly, he calmed down and started laughing. He returned to his usual happy self only mere minutes from the last meltdown over the fact that I had used a paper plate to put his warm bread on to carry it to the table and he didn't like paper plates.

I really thought about how he had said, "No, I can't" calm down. He really was doing the best he could do in that moment. I think we have a tendency to think that our children can do better and so we push them to do better. But what if that truly is the best they can do at that given time? Why not trust that our children are doing their best and that things must be difficult for them for some reason right now if they can't do as well as they sometimes do? Why not trust and open the possibility for love and connection rather than judging them and their actions or behaviors?

I was hungry and tired, too. I didn't do as well as I have sometimes done when I'm not tired or hungry. Was I doing the best I could do at that time? Yes. Now that I've spent some time taking care of myself (listening to music and playing on Facebook), I am sure that I could handle that same situation better. But at the time, I was doing the best I could.

I believe that we all do the best we can every moment. Love and forgive yourself for not being able to always see that. Love and forgive your children, too. And see what happens in your family life when you shift this one simple thing.


Annie said...

Years ago I read that any given time everyone is doing the best they can.

That's kind of a hard one, though...that philosophy really helps me be understanding and forgiving. But, we need to be striving to be better; and some things are absolutely wrong. So, you can understand someone, maybe, but you have to hope for something better.

For example, your little guy couldn't control his meltdown. Well, that's understandable. But when my foster son has a meltdown and is yelling obscenities and damaging property, I can figure he may be doing the best he can do - but it isn't good enough! He HAS to learn to be more regulated or he won't be able to live with us any longer, as it terrifies my younger children.

I don't know where to go with this....expect maybe to understand...and then LATER, try to help the other person move to healing.

Rebecca Thompson, M.S., MFT said...

It is a paradox, isn't it? But the way out is through being present with our child in that moment. That connection is what will regulate the child at a deep, cellular level, so that he'll be able to do better. If you believe in that moment that your child is doing something on purpose or that he can do better but is choosing not to do better, you will remain where you are in that stuck place.

I know it is scary and I know I'm asking you to do something that is really difficult on many levels. But this is the path to freedom for everyone. He must learn to regulate before he can make better choices when he's upset.

Yes, understand, connect... put yourself into his shoes. How bad would it have to get for you to act the way he is acting? How awful must this be for him? Have you ever had something really awful happen to you and maybe not handle it so well? Connect with him and his pain. And later, when everyone is regulated, help him connect with himself. Help him to recognize his early signs of dysregulation so that he can start to make different choices before he reaches the point of no return.

When he can do better, he will do better. I truly believe that. I've seen it and experienced it in my own house with my older son. The healing is just amazing. Hold the vision.