When I finally came to the journey of coaching, it seemed self-evident to me that I would work with parents and teachers. I had tried to trace things back to where best to intervene in the lives of children, and realized that it was only by helping the parents and teachers to heal their own hurts that their children had a chance.
And yet, over the years of working with adults I have come to realize that my work on this planet goes beyond just individually helping one parent or teacher at a time to heal and become whole so that they can pass this legacy on to their kids.
It started one day as I was chatting to a good friend and Educational Psychologist and telling her about a little girl I knew who was malnourished and not flourishing. What she said to me has stuck – she said, “You have to be a voice for that child. She is too young to have a voice of her own”. And it was in that moment that I realized that part of what I needed to do was to be a voice for the silent children.
Every day, as I work with the parents and teachers, I hear stories of trapped children – of the inner children of these adults who have been silent for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. Children who have been crying out for love, crying out to be noticed, crying out for someone to hear them; but crying out silently. Their cries are not heard, because just like our children now, their cries are not understood. All we see is misbehavior, anger, bitterness, fighting, nastiness and rejection, and yet all negative behavior is a cry.
Every day there are a million ways that we can show our children they are not loved – by an unconscious dismissal of them as we chat on the phone, by not really listening, by the constant “just now’s”, the rushed bedtimes, the television babysitters, the disapproving looks, the expectation of performance or specific behaviours, the refusal to see their needs as equal, by the lack of our presence.
And yet every day there are a million ways we can show them they are loved – by taking their concerns seriously, by slowing down, by really seeing, hearing and noticing them, by listening to them in their language – even if it is the language of screams and tantrums and naughtiness and obstinance. It is only when we look past the behaviour to the hidden message that we will stop pushing our children away just when they need us most.
We need to learn to listen – to our own cries, to the cries of our loved ones, to the cries of our children. Everyone is doing the best they can with the programming they currently have. And everyone deserves to be heard, and every cry needs to be released. There are people I meet in my practice who have been holding back their tears for half a century, hanging on to hurt that everyone else has long since forgotten.
I have a head full of stories of silent children, children who could not speak up for themselves because they didn’t have the language to express their pain and they were not allowed to express it physically. Let those children out; Let them cry. Let them find their voices so that the next generation of children can also be allowed the basic right of expression.
Please, cry. And let your children cry. Allow the wounds of the past their expression and release. Let us put an end to silence so that stillness can emerge.