Winter’s coming…. Yet Cesar still prefers to spend most of his days going about naked. When it gets cold, he likes to wrap a towel around himself, though it’s not so practical to play around in. Then, one night he saw Maite put on her hooded blanket, which is basically an oversized poncho. Seeing it, Cesar’s eyes grew wide with amazement and wiggled himself into it to wear it with her. Didn’t really work out because of minimal headspace and couldn’t get his arms free. So I went to fetch one of his blankets and cut a hole in the middle for his head. He’s been enjoying the alternative where he can move around in comfort and yet keep warm. Over time, it has been more and more difficult to find comfortable clothes for him, as they’re being more and more fashion geared with less and less consideration for comfort and durability.
‘No’ was my son’s favourite word for a long time. The moment he got it, he wouldn’t stop using it. Even when he actually wanted to say yes, he’d say No – just because he could.
Whether it was about the food being offered, a planned activity or simply moving to a different room ‘No, no nononono!’ was the standard answer. When this first happened, I got quite a fright. He was always pretty easy going, and suddenly everything was just NO. I couldn’t help but feeling challenged, restricting inside myself and feeling the urge to ‘man up’ and take control over the situation. When I acted on this state of mind, he’d start cooperating even less and we both ended up with the short end of the stick in the situation.
I realised that my forcefulness directed towards him, was misplaced. When he’d say ‘no’ I immediately assumed that his ‘no’ was meant to challenge me and my authority as a parent – instead of seeing it as him practicing his own individuality and his own voice. I’d feel powerless and helpless for a split-second, and then immediately sway into a dominant and controlling stance to get away from that icky-feeling to pretending that I absolutely know what I am doing and force him into a decision he didn’t want to make. Ironically, within believing that he was challenging and undermining me, I was through my controlling behaviour undermining and challenging HIM. Through imposing ‘my way’ on him, I was removing the space for his voice, for his individuality to come through. While I believed I was being the victim of the situation, I inadvertently put him in the exact same position.
I reflected on this behaviour, and looked at why I was being triggered into controlling behaviour. When I looked at how the event played out, I could see more and more that I wasn’t so much upset at him saying ‘No’, but that I was upset with myself and my split second experience of helplessness and powerlessness. Instead of seeing and acknowledging how I felt, I immediately suppressed the experience and entered its equivalent polarity of domination and control. When I worked on not reacting to him saying no and voicing his preference the whole dynamic changed. I could listen to his voice, his preference and modify our course of action if there was space to do so. If he really didn’t have a choice, I’d explain to him why and he’d cooperate knowing that his voice was heard and that the course of action we were taking was not a personal move ‘against’ HIM.
Whenever we enter into a state of control, we’re actually entering into a state of avoidance. We modify our behaviour and try and change and be on top of things in our environment. Through externally keeping everything a certain way, we are allowed to remain in our personal comfort zone. There is no room for growth or expansion, for trying something new, for a new perspective – because it may trigger feelings inside of us we don’t know what to do with. In a sense, we enter control because we are afraid of ourselves. We know ourselves very well, we know our weaknesses, we know our vulnerabilities. Instead of embracing them with open arms and working with them, it’s easier to arrange everything in a way where we don’t get triggered so that we are not reminded of their existence.
Unfortunately, the more we try and hide from ourselves, the stronger these experiences become. Within fearing our own vulnerabilities, we are stating that they are ‘more than’ us, that these experiences are ‘so big’ and ‘so powerful’ that we cannot deal with them and that it is better to sweep them under the rug. More often than not, the experiences we try to avoid as parents have their origin in our own childhood. Wounds from our own childhood which have yet to be healed as they have been ignored over time. When we keep suppressing and ignoring them, while at the same time be controlled by them which becomes apparent in our behaviour – we inevitably wound our own children. This is because we will consciously or unconsciously manipulate, control and steer their behaviour to fit a certain image we are comfortable with, while eradicating and persecuting any behaviour which may remind us of our own personal wounds. They are no longer free to be true to themselves and develop their independent voice and unique expression, because the parameters of what they can do and can be – are rigidly being kept in place by the parent.
When we are vulnerable and open with ourselves, we can deal with our own insecurities and pains from the past and work through them. Vulnerability is our ability to feel ourselves, to draw ourselves near to what we really experience so we may learn from it. Our behaviour towards our children is then no longer controlled by what we experience, but we can now actually see our child and act in accordance with what is best for them and their unique expression.
If you’ve been following my blogs, my facebook and/or my Instagram – you’ll have noticed a lot of pictures of my son Cesar. For the past two years, no-one seemed to have an issue with this fact. My son plays a central role in my life. Parenting plays a vital role in determining the character of our child, whether they will live their utmost potential – or succumb to the sins of our fathers: replaying generations of emotional and mental baggage.
When I embarked on my parenting journey, I realised I had a lot to learn. But that if I was open to myself, my son and new possibilities – I would find new ways of establishing parent-child relationships based on mutual respect and trust rather than control and domination. Control and domination which not only govern parent-child relationships, but the way we live our lives on Earth. It’s in parenting, the school system, our employment system, government, financial sector, corporate sector – anywhere you look, this dynamic rears its face. That’s because all of these systems, all of these structural set-ups in the world come into being, are maintained and fuelled by individuals. Individuals who were once children. Children who were raised under the guide of dominance and control. People – who simply ‘know no other way’.
So, within realising the problem at hand – and having the opportunity to evaluate and walk a parent-child relationship myself; it immediately became clear that: whatever I learn, whatever I realise, whatever mistake I find that I can correct = is indispensable to share.
In the day and age where centralized information is more and more taking a side-position, where more and more people are broadcasting their individual lives, research, insights, realizations – it only seemed natural to use this powerful medium as a tool for sharing a message.
But now – back to the main story. I’ve been posting pictures of my son for a little bit over 2 years, with stories, realisations, insights that I developed and gathered while walking my personal journey. It’s been an absolute pleasure to read people’s feedbacks. To read and see that many of us walk and face the same obstacles, that people can relate and find themselves in my story and are able to help themselves through it. So what changed?
Well, as part of potty training we started leaving his diaper off. It being African summer and getting quite hot, he was quite comfortable not wearing any clothes at all. He then started liking not wearing any clothes at all as it improved his range of motion and simply liked the comfort of being naked. It’s nice to be naked.
Our lives simply continued, I kept taking pictures. So now there are some pictures where his monkeybutt is visible. While in general the feedback from other people remains the same as people continue to enjoy the storylines accompanying the pictures, some concerns start trickling through.
That I “should be careful posting pictures of my son on the internet”. That “there are a lot of freaks and creeps out there”. That I’m “exposing my child”.
What to do? Personally, I love that he is comfortable in his own skin. I love that he has zero body issues and doesn’t see anything wrong with his body or nakedness. I remember my own childhood moments of being naked, free and enjoying myself – whether inside the house or in nature. Where the size, shape or colour of your body didn’t mean a thing. You were here, alive – celebrating your existence!
The problem is not our care-free children. The problem is not our children’s self-comfortability.
The problem lies with US. We react to children expressing themselves, innocently, naturally. We react because ‘people might get aroused’, staring thinking all kinds of things – maybe even go as far as planning to kidnap our children to play out their fantasies.
But how do these dysfunctions get created in the minds of such people? And how do we exacerbate and aggravate such as issues once we become aware they exist? Will not posting pictures of my child playing provide a solution for these individuals and society at large which fears their danger? No.
These type of mental dysfunctions are the result of not understanding, not knowing oneself. Where for instance, one see a child play, realise their innocence and their sense of freedom. Where we see that we have lost that innocence and the ability to just ‘be ourselves’ regardless of what anyone might think. We see that we ‘like’ seeing this expression, this innocence at play. What we are not seeing, is how children are showing us that which we have lost – and what we need to regain for ourselves. Instead of focussing on how we can become carefree and innocent like a child once more, it’s easy for a person to start focusing on the child itself as an object, a gateway TO innocence and freedom – rather than developing and living innocence and freedom ourselves. One starts to believe that the only way one can experience this expression is through them. Now one starts reacting that one likes and enjoys children and their expression. That maybe something is wrong with oneself, that maybe…maybe I am sexually attracted to this child? Now one’s mind goes to all sorts of places – and within not realising that the issue at hand is one’s relationship with oneself which has got NOTHING TO DO with the child – one fixates and obsesses over the child and one’s reaction towards the child which one judge heavily. The more we judge ourselves, the more we fuel the particular reaction, the more it builds up, the more it starts seeking RELEASE. And then people do stupid things, and people get hurt.
Not posting pictures of one’s child, or ensuring one’s child is always ‘nicely covered’ with low tolerance for skin, only perpetuates the taboo. It only enforces the idea that the issue lies with the children, and not the adults. The more we try and hide and cover up – the more we label something as ‘bad’ the more resistance we create around the subject. And whatever we resist will persist. In the meantime, our children get the indirect message that they are ‘bad’ for enjoying themselves, that nakedness is shameful (even though it may not be our intent to relay this message), that they should monitor and put a limit on their expressiveness because someone might want to come and take advantage of it. In the meantime, you’re also sending a message to everyone other than your child that: you can’t be trusted. You’re perverted. You can’t control yourself. Later, when the child is grown up to an adult – he now has reactions towards ‘skin’ and ‘nakedness’. Thinking and believing it’s something ‘special’, something he needs to ‘explore and experience’ – because he was denied his own experience of intimacy and comfortability with and in his own skin.
We see this same pattern the area of dressing codes, where schools are more and more restricting and imposing rules on what a girl may or may not wear out of fear of ‘triggering’ any classmates or male teachers. That women shouldn’t dress attractively or be their expressive self, because then they’re ‘asking for rape’. This ideas and opinions persist, regardless of studies showing that if someone is set out to rape or abuse someone – they’re going to do it. That what we believe ‘triggers’ a person, is most often not the reason or justification they used to take advantage of another. That a person will go forward with rape or abuse, regardless of how one dresses. This is because ANYTHING can be made into a justification for abuse. If you wear clothes revealing a lot of skin – a person may go ‘Oh, she’s just asking for it – look at her’. If a girl is dressing modestly, the same person might go ‘Oh, she’s playing hard to get but she’s actually dying for it’. A girl may give another a friendly smile – and one can go ‘Oh, that’s a sign that she likes me and wants to have sex with me’. Another girl, who was told to dress modestly, not ever smile, or to not every make eye contact with strangers because of the fear of getting raped; may come across someone who interprets the behaviour as “Why is she acting like I don’t exist? Does she think she is so much better than me? She deserves a lesson!”.
So really, covering yourself up, not covering yourself up, doing a bit of both – IT DOESN’T MATTER.
If someone is out to take advantage of another because of their own personal issues with themselves = they’re going to do it. It doesn’t help to control, monitor and manage the symptom. All you end up with is a lose-lose situation. You end up with people having dysfunctional relationships with themselves who do not get addressed, while everyone else supresses and goes into hiding.
The least we can do is to be true to ourselves, to express ourselves freely – to show others ‘this is how you do it’, ‘This is what having a healthy relationship with yourself and others looks like’. The moment we hide, change ourselves, and suppress ourselves – we’re allowing the problem to take over. That we’re victims to the situation and the only thing we can do is to adjust ourselves to accommodate other people’s weaknesses.
Personally, that is not a way to live.
Living on a farm with lots of animals is a wonderful experience for a toddler. The idea of having lots of animals and pets around is a very ‘nice’ one – but we often forget or miss the reality of added responsibility, awareness and diligence. Especially in the beginning, every interaction with animals must be guided and many mistakes will be made, as babies and toddlers like to test their boundaries and various types of ’cause and effect’. One bad memory can easily shape and define a relationship, both for toddler and animal – so we always make sure that interactions remain supportive, and if something does happen, we immediately create the space for Cesar and/or the animal to correct themselves. Both Cesar and the animals can have moments of slipping into reaction, but it is also cool to see how Forgiving they can be with one another and make up with pets and cuddles.
#farmlife @destenifarm #toddler #baby #pets #animals #dogs #horses #coexistence #nature #harmony #challenges #forgiveness #parenting #motherhood #parenthood #mother #childhood #positiveparenting
That moment when you’re really tired and want to go to sleep, but your toddler just woke up from a 5 hour evening nap cause he only managed to sleep for ten minutes during the day.
Every day and night is different and you have to be able to just roll with whatever comes up. Unfortunately many cannot afford to ‘just roll’ with their children as we live in a world of survival, where we are bound to schedules in our quest to survive – and so equally we force our children into schedules to make them fit our survival-style, oops, I mean ‘life-style’.
I am eternally grateful to be in a position where I have the means to adapt to support my child rather than forcing him to adapt to a life dominated by the need to secure our survival. This is something I wish for every parent and child in the world and why I support a #LivingIncomeGuaranteed
For more info: http://livingincome.me