I always knew being a parent would be about sacrifice and patience, about giving, and about providing for my child.

My love provides the setting and context for my child to learn, grow and flourish to develop in a loving, caring and nurturing home.  I provide the space in my home and in my life.  Physical and practical things like the bedroom, the clothes, the toys, tasty food, the early mornings, the broken nights, clearing the snot and the poo…and then creating memories, first events, days out, holidays and safe learning through exploring and boundary setting.

What if with all of this, the child still struggles to engage in the way I had expected, or engage at all, or even rejects it.  What else can my love provide?

I recently found myself out with my son at the park.

He asks me to push him on the swing.  I say no.  I say no because it is pitch black, and I cannot even see the swing; the sun set a few hours ago.  It is cold and I would rather be at home in the cosy warm family room enjoying a drink of milk and a last story before bedtime.  My son swings himself for a couple of minutes and I sit against the fence of the park.  I cannot see him, but I know he is there, and he knows I am there also.  I am with him, doing what I am prepared to tolerate, and then resisting.

Then it dawns on me, what if he needs me in the ‘space’ he chooses (in this moment it is the cold, dark park), the ‘space’ he occupies and may be used to.  What if I need to ‘find’ him where he is, be with him, gain trust and then welcome him in to my ‘space’, allowing him to retreat as often as he needs.  It requires love on my part, I had just never before seen it expressed that way.  It is the love he needs; in the way he needs it.  It is just different from the way I had imagined giving it.

After a couple of moments, he comes to find me, and we leave the park.  We have another moment where I resist a request (it became a demand). He hits me, and he walks off.  Even if it is difficult in the moment, I feel more connected to him.  I follow him, keeping a distance we, both, can tolerate, and we are headed home.

By NVR Dad


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