Choosing Connection

I was thinking about how best to explain 'connection' in parenting when a friend told me about an experience with her daughter that explains it beautifully.

Amy and her 10 year old daughter found themselves at logger-heads over school work. Amy was doing her very best to help her daughter, while Elizabeth was resisting with full force. Arms folded, frown spreading across her face, her feet were pushing down on the floor while she rocked her chair back and forth.

Amy wanted to explode with frustration borne out of both the small detail and the big picture of parenting: she wished her daughter would simply let her help, and she was filled with desire to help her to learn so she could achieve her dream of becoming a vet in the future.

They had been in this situation many times before, but on this day Amy chose a different path. She suddenly stopped, jumped up and said "Elizabeth, get your coat and your wellies. We're going out." Amy took her nature-loving daughter to a place she knew she would love, in the middle of the countryside they splashed through puddles and crouched down to watch birds swooping and diving.

The school work that had been such a barrier between them was a distant memory. In that moment, Amy chose a path that enabled her to re-connect to her daughter: she focused on their relationship and on the natural world that is so close to Elizabeth's heart.

What happened later that day? Certainly, putting the focus back on their relationship meant that when it was time to go back to the school work, Elizabeth was far happier to accept her mother's help. Even more importantly, Amy gave her relationship with her daughter a much-needed boost that meant both of them felt happier, more connected and more able to face the world.