I wish I had known Heather Plett’s “8 Tips to Help You Hold Space for Others” (http://upliftconnect.com/hold-space/) when, years ago, I was parenting young children.
Today as I look back on the many misfires of my parenting career, I realize how many disasters might have been avoided had I viewed my parental role as primarily holding space for my children to find their way in life.
Applied to the task of nurturing and encouraging children, Heather Plett’s eight points offer profound guidance for any relationship, but particularly for being in healthy life-giving relationship with children.
Here is my attemtp to apply the first of Plett’s “8 Tips to Help You Hold Space for Others” for anyone who finds themselves in relationship to children.
1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom.
“To trust their own intuition and wisdom” may be the single most important thing children need to learn. So many adult/child interactions are aimed at denying the child his or her own deeper inner knowing.
Even now, as a grandparent who thinks he knows better, I hear myself saying to my grandchild who has announced she does not like green beans, “Oh but they are good. Try some more you will like them.” What I am telling this child is not to listen to her own feelings. I am coaxing her to ignore that deep inner knowing that, in herself she knows to be true.
With green beans, this may not be devastating. But the pattern gets entrenched and soon the lesson is applied in other places.
“This relationship doesn’t feel safe,” becomes, “I shouldn’t be so silly; everyone thinks he is nice.”
“I need to do this for myself in this situation,” becomes, “I better do what is expected.”
“This person is not treating me respectfully,” becomes, “I better be nice and make this person like me.”
And, most devastating of all, “This person is abusing me,” becomes, “I must be a bad person to be treated this way.”
Every human being is born with a deep inner well-spring of knowledge, wisdom, insight, and profound understanding. But, at an early age, we are trained to ignore this inner knowing.
Space-holders ask, and genuinely want to help you discover:
- What is your heart saying?
- What do you know to be deeply true and real for you at this moment?
- What feels right to you?
Space-holders actually desire the children with whom they interact to identify for themselves what they truly want and deeply need in every situation. This can be frightening because what a child truly wants and deeply needs may not be particularly convenient to an adult whose priorities lie in a different direction at the moment. A child’s wants and needs may be inconvenient, uncomfortable, or embarrassing for the adult world. But, the cost of refusing to listen and make room for the a child’s wants, needs, and desires is too high to fail to create the necessary space for in which that child may be encouraged to stay in touch with what is really going on.
This is not about raising selfish self-indulgent little brats. It is not about creating tyrants who grow up assuming that by stamping their foot and creating a scene they can force their will on the world.
Creating space for children is about supporting them in listening more deeply to their true strong inner sense of what is right and good. It is about enabling them to connect with their own authentic power. Space holding in fact undercuts the temper tantrum illusion of power is so destructive and dysfunctional when relied upon in adulthood.
In order to be a space-holder for children, we need to believe in and trust the inherent goodness, beauty, and wisdom born in every child. The job for adults is not to shape, mold, or form a child. The job of adults is to help children connect with the truth they actually know.
Only adults with a deep intuitive grasp of their own inner truth will be able to hold space for children to uncover and honour their own truth. We need to do our work first, before we can ever support others in doing their work. We can only help uncover the beauty in a child when we have fully grasped the incredible beauty and strength in our own lives.
see Heather Plett’s other points for holding space here: http://upliftconnect.com/hold-space/ and ponder how they might apply to any relationship