Saturday, February 17, 2018


I keep thinking about how your relationship with your child is fundamental to your parenting. I keep thinking I'd like to stop parenting with power, and instead from a relationship perspective. And then I keep thinking that in general, people suck at relationships.

There's this expectation out there that being in a relationship means that someone will not only know your every need but be able to meet them. It fuels our romantic fantasies, spurs us to think that our parents were bad at their job because they were not able to do this, and sets the bar really high for us as parents as we struggle to know our child's needs and to meet them even when we really would rather not. Anyone who's ever held a crying baby and freaked out because you didn't know what it was they needed after trying a plethora of things knows what I'm talking about.

Being in a relationship (and this includes being in a relationship with one's self) doesn't always mean knowing what someone needs. We're not mind readers. Even with lots of experience being around someone, needs change, people change, what was needed 10 years ago is not what is needed now.

And further, even if we could know exactly what someone needs, it's not always possible to meet that need. Sometimes it's too expensive or not safe. Sometimes we're too busy, or too tired or we just don't feel up to it. And that's OK too. Saying no to meeting someone's need for whatever reason is just good boundaries. It helps us know that we are a separate person from them, that we don't exist just to meet their needs.

Being in a relationship is about responsiveness. It's about, instead of invalidating a person's need when you can't meet it, acknowledging that they have a need. It's about when they zig and you zag, you acknowledge that there was something out of sync. It's about apologizing for when you hurt the other person, even if it was inadvertent. It's a back and forth thing.

I think there's a lot to be learned about how relationship theory as it applies to couples can be applied to parenting. But I also think that if we are to look at our relationships we need to acknowledge the ways in which our thinking about that is deficient as well.

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