Last week, a friend shared an experience with her toddler in a grocery store, and lamented that the terrible two’s were starting early. Other moms commiserated, and then debated whether age three was harder yet. I opinioned that every age has its struggles, one not being any harder than the previous, and as parents we’re all just trying to navigate it as best we can. Still, each age has it’s own challenges for sure, influenced by the development of a child’s brain and understanding of the world around him.
Preschoolers tend to see the world in black and white. There is no grey. Things either are or they are not. They are good or bad. The cup is full or empty. As they grow into adolescence, children start questioning the grey. Maybe what they once believed was, simply is not? It’s a lot to work through for a child and even more so for a parent to navigate with them.
Consider that, in 2017, we’re still living in a world of duality. As Betty-Ann Heggie explains in her blog post Finding Sameness Instead of Separation, everything in our lives is compared and labelled. We love categorization (ask any Pinterest user!) and it unfortunately encourages the belief that if one side is right, the other is wrong. It’s when we learn to blend two ideas, perceptions or expectations that we can actually grow.
A great example Betty-Ann shares is the emotions in Disney’s hit Inside Out. Riley learns that happiness and sadness don’t have to occupy her brain and take it over – she can exist with them both and work with them both to grow. Of course, anger and fear play a role in that too! As a parent I loved how this movie helped open discussion on emotion and feelings with my kids on a deeper level – we could often refer back to Riley when dealing with some of the same feelings she was having in the movie.
As adults, asking your coworker or boss to take a second and consider a Disney movie’s lessons is probably not the right approach, but it’s worth looking at how we can encourage more sameness, and less separation in the workplace and at home. Our biggest duality, Betty-Ann explains, is gender. From birth we seem to fit into a category of pink or blue and the expectations that come as a result.
Because we see ourselves as one or the other, we use only half of the actions and options available to us. We become out of balance and the many virtues of being masculine or feminine get dialed up to the extreme and evolve into vices. We are witnessing this on the world stage currently and a rethink is necessary. – Betty Ann Heggie
What if, she says, we embrace the attributes of the opposite gender within ourselves? Wouldn’t it then be easier to navigate discussions and understanding if we saw the opposite of us as more of the same? I like this a lot! Women don’t have to be quiet and passive, men don’t have to be the loudest voice in the room. If we meet in the middle, wouldn’t the road ahead be easier to walk?
While we’re raising our children, it’s interesting (and somewhat worrisome) that we’re seeing words and actions from grown adults who don’t seem to have moved past that preschool perception of the world being black or white. I wish we could put them in time out to think long and hard about what they did, don’t you?
Let’s talk about working through the either/or and the black/white. Share a time in the comments below when you helped your child – or someone in your life – see that there was a middle ground. It’s a lot to learn for little ones, and admittedly we’re still learning as we grow too! Betty-Ann Heggie has generously shared a $100 PayPal to foster the discussion – we encourage you to use the prize to better yourself and those around you! Perhaps a dinner date with a mentor, or a day out with your child to bond. I love this prize!