A community defining event occurs, bush fire or a car accident that claims multiple lives and my community responds is like so many; people’s best qualities shines through. People feel the pain of those directly affected and we become united. Our children see the adults leading the way with generosity, love and compassion and they follow.
An equally defining moment occurs and the community responds in a different way, children and adults left feeling lost, confused, angry, scared and asking how can this happen? Judgments are thrown around searching for where to lay the blame, kids today, adults, parents, society, the internet, anyone. Compassion is evident, but it’s selective, not everyone is entitled to it anymore.
Our children are still looking to the adults to show them the way, but get blocked by fear, guilt and shame as their whole generation is now cast with a dark shadow.
From the work of Brene Brown, guilt-I did something wrong, shame-I am wrong.
Our children are walking around feeling they are wrong, so they cover themselves with masks, omissions and lies. Do we really expect our children to come to us when they are experiencing their deepest darkest feelings when they know they will meet judge, jury and executioner…from their parents?
I am not advocating we allow our children to avoid taking responsibility, on the contrary, but we need to give them the space to do that in a way that they will experience love and compassion. Our deepest needs are to be loved, accepted and to belong. If children feel they will experience rejection when they reveal the worst of themselves, of course the natural instinct is to hide it.
We will never love every decision, mistake or pathway our children take, but from their parents they need to know that you can separate your feelings about what they did from your feelings for who they are.
You can love your children and not love what they do, you may even hate what they do, but do not hate them. Nothing is healed through hate, only love.