She wanted him to share in sensitive ways, to open up, to be vulnerable.
She wanted to sit and have meaningful conversations with him. She wanted to be close to him.
She wanted to sit with him and have long and lovely talks.
So long as he did it in a way that she wanted.
But it wasn’t happening. She had shut down a major part of his expression, his anger.
And as such, she had shut his expression down. So, he didn’t share very much at all.
She did not allow for anger in the home, she never really had.
That was not acceptable in her home. No son of hers was going to “bully” anyone.
“Go to your room if you are going to act like that.”
“If you continue to act like that, you’re going to lose your device.”
“That behavior is completely unacceptable.”
“That’s not how nice boys act.”
But she was misguided.
The boy was not a bully, he was a child with feelings, completely acceptable feelings.
She was scared of his anger, because of her past.
She could not separate her past from the boy in front of her. She wanted to get rid of his anger entirely. She was threatened by it.
And so, her threat response was to shut it down.
But what gets repressed comes back stronger, and more unpredictable. What she would see were stretches of (leveraged) compliance punctuated by his fits of rage and or withdrawal.
I know what it is like to feel threatened by a child. It feels strange thinking about it now, but I know that I did. I felt so threatened. And did hurtful things in response to that threat.
And this is how the cycle gets perpetuated. Worried about being bullied or taken advantage of by a child, we end up bullying them, and shutting them down.
The way out of this is to make yourself feel safe and to respond from that place. It is to allow for the expression of the full spectrum of emotions. To help your child through their emotions.
I’ve written more about this at length in my book -Parenting for Peaceful Home.
I wish you all the best parents. Parenting is an incredible challenge and opportunity all in one experience.
You can change the course of your families history. You can break cycles. And you can have a close relationship with your child.
That. IS. Possible.