As I navigate this unprecedented time of life, my therapist suggested I read James Hollis’ Finding Meaning In The Second Half of Life.
It has shaken my world. In a much needed way.
Hollis suggests we can change history (and our own lives) by this simple exercise.
Unconditionally affirm our children by saying these words to them. I wish to say it now to my children (Paige and Lauren) with all my heart and soul. I wish I had known to say and live it out to both of them and write it down for them in a journal as a gift to keep forever. But I didn’t know. I was too enslaved by my own demons, my own lack of empowerment, and by bad religious teachings. Here are the words:
You are precious to me; you will always have my love and support; you are here to be who you are; try never to hurt another, but never stop trying to become yourself as fully as you can; when you fall and fail, you are still loved by me and welcomed to me, but you are also here to leave me, and to go onward toward your own destiny without having to worry about pleasing me.
These simple but heartfelt words, Hollis says, would free our children by exemplifying courage to sacrifice our narcissistic needs in service to their joint but separate journey. We as parents would then be free to address the questions that life brings to us, without living through the child. These words enable our children to explore, experiment, falter, and regroup, without shame, without self-derogation, armed always by the experience of love and support, which one may carry as food for the soul in the times of desolation and defeat that come to us all!
But few of us parents are able to give this unconditional love to our children, having not received it ourselves. And history repeats itself in maddening ways.
As Carl Jung once claimed, in words which properly should haunt all parents, the greatest burden the child must bear is the unlived life of the parents: “What usually has the strongest psychic effect on the child is the life which the parents, grandparents (and ancestors) have not lived.”