Yesterday, I wrote about why I often respond to my kids’ requests to do things with “maybe.”
In further thinking about how I communicate with my kids, I realize that being vague also appears in my responses to my kids’ questions about what is going on that day or what’s for dinner or what we are doing this weekend.
I become inexplicably frustrated with them for asking perfectly normal questions! Heck, as an adult, I want to know these things as well. But instead of giving them the straight answer, I’ll withhold that information and will either answer vaguely, say they don’t need to know or distract them and tell them to go play.
In thinking of the origins of why I hold back information, I realize it likely comes from my childhood. Growing up, information was given on an as needed basis. There was a lot that my mom had on her mind but they were never shared. I’m not sure if I asked questions but if I did, they most certainly got shut down. I never had a model for a healthy, open line of communication between child and parent – a result of Chinese culture, my mom’s personality/trauma/beliefs and our different dominant languages. I was left to figure out many things for myself and in some distorted way, being quiet and solving the problem myself was fulfilling a need for my mom for me to be obedient and became the way I showed that I cared and loved my mom and family.
While my children are growing up in a very different household than me, I can see myself repeating that pattern. I expect my kids to react the way I reacted but that doesn’t make sense in the relationship I want to cultivate. Their desire for information does not mean that they don’t want to earn my love and the information I have does not need to be withheld so that they will remain attached and try to earn my love.
Phew! There are quite a few layers to this one pattern I have but breaking it down helps in knowing it is not me but my inner child who wants to recreate the same pattern of expressing love that is familiar to her. I will be chatting with my inner child to say – “It is okay. I have the ability to communicate better with my kids than my mom did. I want to cultivate a real relationship with my kids based on open communication and understanding. I know that they are asking because they want to be informed on what is going on and that is perfectly reasonable for a child. We don’t need to repeat the patterns of my mom and my relationship.”