- Our children speak to us.
What it is that I am saying to you is that all these troubles you are having now with your child are actually a form of communication.
Through hardships our child is trying to tell us something that is not easy for us to hear.
I’m not implying that someone here is in the wrong. No one is guilty of anything and there is no need to seclude oneself in frustration and all kinds of attempts at becoming a “good parent”, or to repress the sense of not being a good father, or not being a good mother.
Our children are not interested in the criteria we set for ourselves, or that our family and friends set for us. All that interests them is that we listen to their deep requests, a specific set of requests that only we—their mother and father—can fulfill.
Our children’s difficulties are actually a language. The only language which they can use in order to signal to their mother and father that their requests are not being heard.
- This language is simple and familiar.
Another thing I wish to tell you is that this language, the language of hardships, or the language of children—is a simple one. You don’t need to go to university to learn it and you don’t need to be more spiritual or richer or feel more confident in order to understand it. It is a common language we have all known from the day we were born. It is a language that we use, even now as adults, when we have difficulties.
The only difference between the way our children use it and the way we use it, is that when we use it, we don’t believe that there is someone listening to us anymore. Our children still do. They are still open and devoted to us, are still waiting for our attention because they know that we love them and wish to hear them more then anything.
The language is simple, every boy or girl uses specific hardships to make their very unique parents listen to one of their seven requests. Each hardship in every family is designed to bring to the surface a request that hasn’t been answered.
These same difficulties that we usually think of as nightmares that we must get rid of, are actually signals from our children to us, recurring attempts to divert us back to the path along which we chose to become parents—the path of love.
When we choose to listen to the “language of hardship” we can also hear the exact request that we didn’t hear before, and therefore didn’t answer—and find our own unique way to respond to it.
- It is possible to stop and listen to our children’s simple language.
When we do choose to listen—a miracle takes place. When we choose to slow down our automatic motion on the freeway, and even stop to take a better look at the signals, and then create some silence, silencing the daily commotion of fears, and common perceptions, and education methods and personal goals, when we stop this engine and listen, we hear a different voice.
Beneath the hardship that might have been aggressiveness towards siblings, or lack of social integration or maybe learning difficulties or repeated illnesses, we hear a child who still loves himself, still believes she is worthy of love, here in this world, worthy of our love, and is showing us the way to love him right now. With any one of the seven channels she is requesting our support and partnership. The miracle that takes place is an expression of being back on the track of love. It is accompanied by the boy or girl’s agreement to be loyal to himself or herself in accepting his or her mother’s and father’s assurance of their love. The miracle takes place because both parents agreed to listen from within the hardship, agreed to come back and communicate in the same familiar yet forgotten language.
- There is only one question.
There is only one relevant question for any kind of hardship which repeats itself and causes frustration in our parenting:
“What is our child really trying to tell me with this hardship?”
There is always an answer to this question. In order to hear it you must really stop and listen. I know that this is not always possible.
I am very familiar with all those situations where the last thing I wanted to do was stop and listen. Honestly, all I really wanted to do was either to just get out of there, or skip this whole thing, or find some trick to make this kid change already, be quieter, more cooperative, more “normal”. Sometimes I just wanted her to be somebody else’s.
It may very well have been that if someone else would have approached me in those situations with this odd suggestion to “stop and listen”, he would have had to duck for cover, like an annoying fly that came at the wrong time.
Today, within these situations, I truly understand that the need to push away the hardship without stopping to listen only deepens and aggravates the situation.
Sometimes I request assistance. Sometimes I take out my frustration and only then stop and listen. The more we practice how to stop and listen, the simpler it becomes and the answers come to us more quickly and easily. Even answering these deep requests gradually becomes a part of life, a part of my own personal growth in this world, maybe even the main part of it, and little by little I don’t need signals of crisis and horror to make me stop and listen, I happen to find a way to drive slowly and listen while in motion, and the signals become gentler and more communicative.
From the second that our child realizes that we prefer to stop and listen to their deep requests, rather then drive ahead and ignore, her need to signal to us decreases, and with it, the need to create hardships that will stop us in our tracks slowly disappears.
- The 7 deep requests.
When we do stop to listen, we can hear the muffled voice of a deep request rising to the surface, showing itself as a recurring hardship that might even get worse. In total there are 7 of these requests.
First request—to feel at home, safe, protected and accepted, and happy with my share.
Second request—to enjoy my very being and my life.
Third request—to clearly sense my uniqueness—exactly as I am right now.
Fourth request—to sense a deep connection and partnership, free of barriers, no matter who is with me.
Fifth request—to feel absolute freedom to express out in the world everything that is within me.
Sixth request—to feel the freedom to rise and fly on the wings of free thought and imagination and “to live” above and beyond the here and now.
Seventh request—to simply sense in daily life the godly being that I am.
There is no set of rules we can establish in advance to match each a hardship to a deep request.
There are, of course, incidents that repeat themselves, and there is the option of generalizing, but I really do not want to create another illusion, another tool that allows us as parents to approach our children as if they were a “project”, “knowing about them” in advance and thus again, not stopping to listen, pulling a new tool out of a hat designed to solve the problem and move on. For each child in every phase and in each family, specific hardships will be a way to indicate a certain unanswered request. When I ask myself to stop and listen it is very important that I listen carefully to my very specific child, as if I had never listened to any other children before. Only this way can my attentiveness be truly open, and the deepest level of the specific hardship can reach my ears.
- Troubles are not made to be solved.
They were not created for that.
What I just said might be very disappointing and irritating. Some might say: “What are you suggesting, just sit there in despair and suffering and not do anything? This sounds like indifference or being in victim-mode or just a way to avoid dealing with responsibility.”
That is not my intention. I do not wish to be in endless pain and of course I am not relaxing, amused, while I or someone dear to me experiences earaches or an emotional breakdown or horrible anxiety. And yet I am convinced that the common attitude in our society towards hardships as things that should be disposed of, is a horribly missed opportunity for a turning point in our growth, and for the possibility that love will become our axis of being.
A hardship is meant to be heard. For us to be with it. To let it have their say, to touch, to hurt, to confuse. Hardship is the most efficient and accurate device for our inner selves to signal the specific direction of growth that is right for this moment.
That is why as a first stage it is very important to me to stop and listen to my hardship without trying to define it, to diagnose it, to fit it into any general system. I want to “be with” my child while she is having a hard time, not to use her for a quick solution for my difficulty, or hers.
The effort invested in seeking a solution, quickly, whether I am aware I am doing this or not, always hides the unwillingness to contain a hardship as it is.
When no one is willing to contain their hardship, a healthy child cannot simply manifest the hardship as is it, because all her energy is turned towards the effort to make her parents stop and contain him as well as her hardships.
There are really only 7 requests and I will elaborate on them in the coming chapters, but the only efficient way to hear which request it is, in every situation of hardship, is to be with the hardship more and more with your child and allow the voice speaking from within, behind the words and actions and sensations, to reach our ears. The less we know in advance—the easier it is to listen. And when we hear it, it is very clear and useful for the rest of the journey.
In the next stage we respond to a request.