Introduction: The Science of Resistance
In The New Science of Super Awareness, Bill Harris teaches that “Anything you resist – from losing your keys to experiencing the death of a loved one – causes suffering. Resist an event or outcome and that resistance compounds the other consequences already built into the situation.
The Ubiquity of Resistance and Its Impact on Parenting
In life, this is how most of us operate. Someone tells us to do something, and we resist. The weather is too hot or too cold. That bag is too expensive. The food isn’t yummy enough. Resistance is everywhere. We have to look at this resistance to things. Especially with our children, it’s crucial to analyze our motivations and reactions.
A Tale of Two Interests: From Marine Biology to YouTube
When my daughter was seven years old, she was really into the ocean. She watched lots of ocean documentaries, gave little presentations in school about pollution and how to save our oceans, and decided she wanted to be a marine biologist.
Soon after, we moved to Sweden for nine months to be with my ailing father. There was a lot of stress: a new climate, a new school, a longer commute, and so on. I was so tired all the time and didn’t have much spare energy to check on what the kids were doing at home.
Parental Resistance and Self-Reflection
Anna would sneak away and watch a lot of YouTube Kids. She viewed many channels of young female Youtubers showing their rooms, their American Girl Dolls, or doing makeup tutorials. She had always been creative when it came to fashion, but the fixation seemed to be growing more intense. She started to talk to herself alone in her room, pretending like she was one of those Youtubers making a video.
I didn’t like any of it.
Deep down, all that stuff reminded me of when I was growing up, being focused on external appearance and material things, which of course, created a deep sense of insecurity. And since this might have been one of the reasons I spiraled into alcohol and drugs, Subconsciously, this is where I went assuming this was the path my daughter was heading down.
The Turning Point: A Change in Perspective
So, I resisted this part of my daughter. I made sarcastic jokes. I certainly didn’t reinforce or show admiration for this new interest of hers like I had with her marine biology hobby.
She would ask if she could wear lipstick, and I would shoot back, “Why?!”
My husband and I discussed it and decided that we would let it go and allow it to a certain degree, accepting that it was most likely a phase. At one point, she asked me, “Why is everyone making fun of me and my love of fashion?”
This was a wake-up call for me. I didn’t want to be making fun of her. Being made fun of and not being taken seriously was one of the things that deeply affected me growing up. It severely impacted my self-esteem. For the longest time, I really felt like no one supported my interests.
I remember being 20 and telling my mom I wanted to study photography and “theology” (the closest word to “spirituality” that I could come up with at the time, and before I even knew what it was). She sighed and rolled her eyes at me, and in that moment, I subconsciously put both those in the silly category.
Still, I never set out with a conscious plan to build a spiritual life, like one might with a traditional career. Yet somehow, the pieces came together slowly throughout the years. I was never guided by my ego, but rather it was as if my soul kept leading me forward.
Remembering this, I decided to honor and admire my daughter’s creative interest in fashion and makeup – to honor her discovery of a new way of being. I chose to focus on the positive aspects of her spending time caring for her appearance.
The Outcome: Embracing Change and Finding Balance
A few years have gone by since all this happened, and my husband and I have really made an effort to support her in whatever endeavor she chooses. We are lucky because my daughter’s interest in clothing and makeup is actually quite admirable. She loves and appreciates beauty. To her, that’s what fashion and makeup is all about. If we had resisted, the outcome would have been different. But what for? Who would that really have served? Instead, we had many insightful discussions about what beauty really meant. We agreed it comes from the inside out. She was able to experiment with makeup when she wanted to, but now she doesn’t ask to wear it as much. In fact, she is now back to wanting to become a marine biologist.
Becoming aware of our own resistance
I’ll never forget one night I was having dinner with a friend in New York, and we were discussing the things our children like to do. I mentioned that my 9-year-old daughter liked makeup.
“Makeup?!” my friend said, as if it were some sort of sin.
I have thought a lot about that reaction. That kind of automatic resistance to anyone’s choices is going to create more difficulty from both ends. Pressure and resistance simply create more resistance.
Once I brought this subject up with my sponsor. I told her that I had a hard time and was resisting my daughter’s seemingly shallow interests. My sponsor, who is full of wisdom, said, “It seems like you have to practice some self-love.”
I want to love what she loves
Yikes. It wasn’t my daughter who I was resisting. It was my younger self.
Suddenly everything shifted for me. The awareness of what I was really doing changed, and I began to shift my perspective and look at my daughters’ interests with unconditional love. I decided to understand that this is what she loves, and I want to love what she loves.
A few years have gone by since all this happened, and my husband and I have really made an effort to support her in whatever endeavor she chooses. We are lucky because my daughter’s interest in clothing and makeup is actually quite admirable. She loves and appreciates beauty. To her, that’s what fashion and makeup is all about.
Letting go of our resistance
If we had resisted, the outcome would have been different. But what for? Who would that really have served? Instead, we had many insightful discussions about what beauty really meant. We agreed it comes from the inside out. She was able to experiment with makeup when she wanted to, but now she doesn’t ask to wear it as much. In fact, she is now back to wanting to become a marine biologist.
Embrace your children and let them find their own way. When you are able to let go of resistance rather than letting it rule your every action, you will be surprised how much smoother life and interactions might become.