In my workshops, I sometimes ask parents to introduce themselves as one of their children. This is how it normally goes,
“My name is Ayesha and I’m 2 years old. I’m really cute but I drive my mom nuts with my tantrums... (continues to describe the tantrums in detail)”
“My name is Joshua and I’m 4 years old.. I can be sweet sometimes but I hate it when things don’t go as I want them to and then I raise hell! (Continues to describe his son’s actions when he’s upset)”
“My name is Emma and I’m 3 years old.. I have a lot of energy.. I can’t sit still or do what dad and mom tell me.. I also hit my baby brother even though I know it’s wrong... (continues to detail the various incidents of Emma hurting her brother)”
“My name is Ali and I’m 7 years old.. I try to be helpful and clean my room but many times I just don’t pick up after myself and expect my mom to pick up my toys... (continues to describe other times where Ali ‘never accepts responsibility’)”
And so on and so forth. All of them have the same underlying gist... that my child *might* have some good qualities but their ‘bad qualities’ are really what I focus on and it’s what dominates our relationship and defines my child.
After one such round of introductions.. as all the parents sat reflecting on what was just said... I asked them if anyone would like to share their thoughts about this activity. One mom started to speak.. she had tears in her eyes, and her voice broke as she said,
“I was just wondering.. if you had asked my son that same question.. if you asked him to introduce himself as me.. as his mom... he would have nothing but wonderful things to say. He adores me. With all my flaws, he thinks I’m perfect. And here I am... the adult... finding so much wrong with my sweet little boy...”
The whole room went silent.
There were a few more teary eyes.
Some nods. More thoughts.
It was one of the most poignant moments I’ve ever shared with my wonderful parents... It’s always a good reminder to myself too when I’m having a difficult day ?
*The names are examples.