Updated: Dec 6, 2019
Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. There is always something to consider, something to do, or a new challenge looming. At the heart of it all is a desire to give our children the best we can. Unfortunately, there are times when we may not give our children our best, when we may teach them the wrong lessons. Sometimes we are aware of this taking place, at other times this happens without us even realising it.
Often, when our children are engaging with others we can often see them and their needs quite clearly, but when their interactions are more direct with us as parents and a little more ‘in your face' we start to experience what I like to call “parental blur”. This occurs when we no longer see our children and their needs clearly. Maintaining parental perspective is not easy, but remains an important part of our role as parents.
Consider for a moment, when we hold our phone at arms length, we can often see it clearly. We can see it’s detail and take in the whole of it. However, when we bring the phone right up close to our noses, we lose focus. We are no longer able to see it clearly, and it may not even be perceivable as a phone anymore. The same logic can be applied to parenting.
When our children are a little distance from us, we can often perceive them clearly. We can see them for who they are and all that they can be. We can have a good sense of their needs and how we can best support them in order to help them achieve their goals and we can generally appreciate them fully.
But, often when our children come closer to us (physically, mentally or emotionally) we can begin to lose perspective. The closer they get, the less clearly we can see them until we completely lose sight of them. When this occurs our focus shifts to ourselves and our needs. If you can imagine the idea of the phone right up in your face, you may feel a sense of frustration or irritation. The same can occur with our children, and often without us even realising it. When this does occur, we begin to lose the clarity that we previously had. We begin to lose sight of their uniqueness and their strengths and weaknesses. We begin to see them less and less as the previously well-defined child, and we see them more as a blur.
But, this is not always a bad thing. It is important that things are about us from time to time. We are only human after all. Right now, we are talking about our own little personal bubble, and it is important that we protect this and keep it intact, however, we need to be cognisant of our children and how we may engage or disengage when we are focused on our own ‘stuff’. First and foremost is the ability to actually recognise when we feel our child, children or anybody else for that matter is in our space. We need to practice and develop the skills to recognise when we can no longer see others clearly. If we can become aware of this, and we can recognise the ‘blur’ that we are experiencing, we can then begin to manage it appropriately.
Unfortunately, more often than not there is a lack of control when this happens and we react. Our behaviour can seem childish or unsupportive. It can seem selfish and it can send mixed messages to our children. When we experience blur, we may experience our personal space being violated and so we often react emotionally. Unfortunately, our children can experience this as inconsistency in their relationships where, on the one hand they have your support and love and encouragement and then, on the other hand, they can experience something so different.
We can understand why and how this can occur, and that it makes sense that it will occur, but what is important is that we are able to recognise it when it begins to happen so that the positive, necessary steps can to taken to ensure that perspective can be maintained.
The parental blur that has been discussed above refers specifically to the situations where we lose our own personal focus on our children. Let us now consider a different type of parental blur that can occur, one that involves people or things outside of our immediate self.
Take a moment to consider looking at your child, comfortably and well focused. Now consider what happens to our view of our child if a hand or another object is placed in our line of sight. Our view is obstructed and we now begin to experience a similar situation to that of the previous parental blur. In this situation, however, the interference in our view is caused outside of ourselves.
This could be another person, or other factors such as politics, finances, family dynamics, relationships, work, conflicts and so on. In these situations, the blur (or interference) that is experienced leads us to often lose sight of that which we intend to keep in our focus: our children.
Now, again we are all human and so this interference blur is inevitable, but it is important to be aware of it. To be conscious of the fact that we may not be able to see our children clearly. That there may be something else in the way. If the interference is from outside of ourselves, we need to again understand it by asking the questions of where and why this is here and what can I do to help manage it? Do I need to move to regain my perspective or will it follow me, and so on.
Maintaining perspective (or at least attempting to) is so important as a human being, not only as a parent.
We need to have perspective on what’s coming, what lies ahead. We need to help anticipate things for our children to better equip them for what they may face. We need to guide them and support them and encourage them, but we cannot do this if we cannot see them clearly.
We need to take time regularly to reflect on the clarity of our vision, and when we become aware of any blur developing or being present. We need to actively engage with it and take action to adjust our focus.
Take a moment and consider how clear your perspective is on your child or children? Are you feeling like you are operating a little blindly; like you have a sense of what you need to do, when and how, but it’s difficult because you don’t have the clarity you need? If so, take stock and reassess the situation. Try to determine where the source of your blur lies so that you can begin to make the necessary changes.
Parenting offers the clearest mirror of who we are and what we need,
we just need the courage to accept it.