Are your children fighting every request you make? Is nothing you say or do “right”? Are all of you grumbling under your breathe and making what my kids call “the huffy voice”? That my friends, is Resistance.
Kids and The Resistance Epidemic
by Nikki Di Virgilio
How many times have we told our kids to do something and they either refuse, or do so with a constant whiney tune, of I don’t want to and why do I have to. The request can be something as simple and mediocre as wiping the table, and yet they put up a fight. It’s frustrating, and causes tension between our kids and us. Depending on the severity of the resistance in our household, this tension over time can create an isolating and perhaps even numbing relationship, which is damaging to both parent and child.
Resistance is defined as: the act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding. Unfortunately resistance is our first response to almost any that comes our way. This is often the same for our children.
The word “power” is in the very definition of resistance. Resistence itself is a power struggle between parent and child. Once we enter this planet, we are instantly faced with the power struggle of balancing the demands upon our minds, bodies and souls. We have to breathe on our own. We have to eat to live. We have to sleep to function and be well. These are required and necessary things. But then we get older, and there are more requirements. And these requirements often do not align with the truth of who we are and what we seek. School demands we pay attention, not chew gum, not wear our hair a certain way, be smart, be happy, learn, and agree with what is being taught. Then society demands we look and act in a certain way. As do our parents.
Consciously or unconsciously our children are absorbing all of these little and big demands all the time. It is no surprise they are resisting! We are energetic beings, here to unfold the purpose of our soul. We are not machines, which comply with the buttons being pushed–although we can, and often do. However, most of us don’t want to, especially the young ones who are coming to our planet right now. They are different, and leading us on a new course, which is more properly aligned with our soul.
What lessons and tools can we use to help our children grow beyond Resistance?
Lesson #1 : Teach cooperation. Cooperation means working or acting together for a common purpose and benefit. No matter the age of our children, they will respond positively with this larger idea of cooperation. They often like to help and be a part of something bigger. We just have to show how valuable it is, and determine the common purpose.
For example, maybe mom is making a special treat, but she also has lots of work to do around the house. Mom would like to get that work done, before she makes the treat, and to do this, she needs help. The common purpose is for the treat to be made so everyone can enjoy it. Therefore, everyone must help with the duties around the house. They might still resist and complain, but if we continue to invite moments where we show and teach the value of working together for a common goal, eventually they will come to understand its value, and reward.
Hey, and for parents with young ones- you know Barney’s clean up song, right? Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere. Clean up, clean up everybody do your share. Make cooperating fun- create a song, whistle while you work.
Lesson #2: Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do(This comes from Denzel Washington. Thanks Denzel.) When our kids get caught in the energy of resistance, it is difficult for them to see the greater purpose of whatever requirement that has come their way. We can help by giving them the perspective of doing what they have to do so they can do what they want to do.
My oldest daughter, Alyssa is a senior in high school. She has dreams and plans of going to California after she graduates to continue her studies and gain experience as an actor. Through all of her years in school she has been an A/B student. However, last year she had to take the MCA test. She did not pass the test by two points, and now has to take it again, plus take a class to help prepare for it. She hasn’t been happy about this at all.
To move to a deeper and more resilient place, I remind her passing this test, no matter how unfair she or I thinks it is, it is what needs to be done so she can graduate and get on with what she wants to do, which is go to LA and pursue her talent. I also plant the seed of being receptive to the lesson of this experience. What is it showing her? What character traits might she develop by embracing this requirement to graduate?
Speaking of being receptive….
Tool #1: Model Receptivity. The best way to teach receptivity is to be an example of it. Being receptive means having the quality of receiving, taking in, or admitting. How are you at being receptive? Do you complain about what’s coming at you, or do you receive what’s coming to you, taking it as a lesson to be learned, and an opportunity to be stretched? How open and flexible you are, will determine how your children respond to you and the world outside, and inside of them.
Remember we are energetic beings, and our children are more connected to this truth than we are. They often resist the energy we are carrying, which brings us to our next tool. What is our intention when we require something from our children? What energy are we running? Are we coming from a place of control or respect? Openness, or an expectation of conflict?
Tool #2: Request & Ask, Don’t Demand. If we are coming from a place of expecting there to be conflict because that is what we are used to when we want our children to do something, then we will run a tight and constricted energy pattern, which may cause us to act as dictators demanding instead of cooperators requesting. Remember we are energy. Therefore, they may not be resisting “wiping the table.” Instead it may be the energy we are transmitting that they are resisting.
I understand the tight and constricted energy, as my youngest daughter Lilli and I have had lots of tension between us. She demands with her drama and intense energy that I dig deeper and parent in a more mindful and loving way, and I have been resisting. However, I have moments with her that are open and easy, where no constrictive patterns are in place, and if they are, they aren’t able to sustain in the grace which is present.
On one such occasion, I wanted Lilli to do something. Instead of forcing my agenda upon her because I expected conflict, I simply told her what my request was, and asked if it was ok. It was powerful exchange. There was no hesitation or resistance from her whatsoever and I felt as though we were two old souls respectfully and mindfully engaging and cooperating with one another. Although I have yet to enter this space again, I know these moments can be more frequent, if we allow our agendas and resistances to melt away in the space of grace and honor of one another.
Creating this space is possible when we develop the mindset which comes from the famous poem by Kahlil Gibran– Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. We forget this because our society has a limited belief, which says the opposite, that our children are ours to dictate to and put our agendas upon, but this simply isn’t true. They are souls, here on their own journey, and picked us as their teachers and guides. What an amazing opportunity for us.
The challenge, of course is staying in this space of receptivity and higher wisdom. To do so we must be mindful of our intentions, and the agendas we may be putting upon them. If our intention is about respect and honor, and not control, cooperation will win. Coming from cooperation, our agendas will dissipate, and we will trust they will do the “right” thing and cooperate. This will allow us to hold a more gentle space when speaking to them, where we request and ask, and not demand.
Which brings us to….
Tool #3: Allow for Space~ Mantra and Meditation. Maybe resistance in our children is a symptom of overwhelm. Maybe they are tired, and when they whine and resist, they are saying I feel so safe with you this is my way of letting you know, Mom, Dad, please listen and help me. I need a break. I need some space to be me
We are busy people on this planet. Life moves fast. The culture is stuck in a perpetual pattern of more is better and constant movement means we are looking productive and useful. All I want to say to this is- STOP. There is a time for movement, and a time for space, for just being. If we allow for this type of space and not have every minute superficially controlled, our children can breathe and have moments of remembering who they are, and why they are here. Then we can better support their awakening and expressive journey. What an amazing opportunity we have!
One way we can facilitate space, is to teach a mantra and meditation. A mantra can be sound, phrase or word, as simple as the word breathe, which can be said repeatedly while in the midst of resistance, mindless chatter and overwhelm in the brain. Meditation, a longer version of a mantra offers space between a stimulus and response as well. Our children are never too young to learn these methods. And if this doesn’t’ resonate, intentionally allow for space for them to just be- with no television, video games, or other distractions. Less outer stimuli, means more authentic, inner stimuli so they can be who they are meant to be.
I suggest you do this for yourself too. The space you create inside yourself will give you an energy your children will not resist. But it is going to take a commitment, and perhaps a shift in intention from parenting in angst and obligation to parenting from a spiritual perspective and duty. Here we become watchers of our children, noticing their resistances and where they get stuck. When we notice, we guide them through it with wisdom and trust, so their soul’s journey continues to unfold. We must allow space for this journey, and the best space is in the home.
Resistance is one of those large monsters we face on our spiritual journey but with some education, investigation and willingness to expand inside ourselves, we can create enough space so we can feel the resistance and cooperate anyway.
Nikki Di Virgilio is a mother of two girls, a homemaker, and a keen investigator of the spiritual journey. She blogs at The Soul Reporter and The Inspired Homemaker. She also educates and facilitates the awakening journey to individuals and groups. For more information about her services, contact her at Nikki’s Sacred Space.