We’ve had our daughter home with us now for 11 days, and we are starting to sense that her passive-aggressive behavior may be something that is difficult for her to navigate within a family structure. There’s a sense that it’s easier to protect herself and maintain a certain sense of control over closeness versus taking the chance to and go all in so to speak with your head and heart to trust my wife and I for full loving commitment.
I don’t want this fear of choice to plague her relationships for the rest of her life- and yet my daughter thinks we are delusional that how your childhood relationships are with your parents do have a significant impact on your adult relationships- with your partner, with your family, with your friends, and especially how you feel about yourself.
I feel blessed that I grew up in a family with a mother and a father my whole childhood and through adulthood. Single parents, adoptive parents, step-parents, and others who have to take on this role have a much harder road to climb. Children thrive with stability, and they may not know where to turn to if they feel like people aren’t going to be there for them for the rest of their lives.
In the mornings, my youngest will throw statements out there and play the blame game: seemingly innocent statements but the blame and pain are hurled at anyone else but looking within at herself. It’s mom’s fault she didn’t wake me up on time- it’s your fault that I didn’t get to eat breakfast- I don’t have enough clothing to wear- you don’t give me the same privileges you give your other daughter- and so on down the line.
When I went to drop my youngest off today at her grandmother’s so I could get sleep from work, I said that I love her. The response of “uh huh” spoke volumes of how she knows that her words and her actions can have an impact on us. It’s difficult at times to handle the fact that she may want to love but doesn’t feel safe in her head and heart to do this. She’s had so many times where the promise of love has been dangling before her, only to be whisked away to another family and have to start all over again.
We are here to make sure she grows up to be a wonderful young lady. Whether she thinks we can give her the tools for success or she thinks we are the biggest idiots in the world to me is inconsequential. I want her to know that we didn’t give up on her hopes, her dreams, her need for love and affection and understanding. She can be angry about her early childhood and the events that happened around her, but I consistently remind her that she can always change her view of the past when she’s ready to. You can either live in the past or set a new course in the present for your future.
I don’t want her to be frozen by fear. She needs to move beyond the anger and confusion and start making decisions that will benefit her in adulthood. She has to be willing to hold herself accountable and not put her head in the sand all the time when challenges arise. Do the same for yourself in your own life. Do not be afraid to complete the incomplete- resolve issues that have been holding you down for weeks or months or years. You’ll be surprised how much weight off your shoulders you’ll feel.