Something heartbreaking happened while I was being interviewed on a (very) well-known podcast earlier this month. And I still feel regret that I didn’t do anything to address it after it happened.
Halfway through the interview, the podcast host found himself interrupted by one of his young children who had opened the door to his office and wandered into the room, calling for his daddy.
The podcast host SNAPPED.
“GET OUT OF HERE!! GET OUT, GET OUT!! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M WORKING?! CAN’T YOU SEE I’M ON THE COMPUTER?? DIDN’T YOU SEE THE DOOR WAS CLOSED? GET OUT, GET OUT NOW!!”
The young child looked mortified, and cowered as he backed up through the open door and slowly closed it shut.
The podcast host turned back to me and apologized profusely.
I knew that what I had just witnessed was quite literally the root cause of so many of the problems my clients come to me to undo, 20, 30, 40+ years later in life.
What would a young child most likely conclude from an experience like that?
(Consider that children are egocentric, and think that things happen in the world BECAUSE of them…)
The child is most likely going to conclude something along the lines of “I’m bad” or “I’m not important”…especially if their parent(s) regularly communicate with them using similar language.
It wasn’t my place to say anything… right?
I knew that a small bit of damage had just been done, and I knew that if I didn’t say anything and the podcast host’s pattern continued, his child would likely grown up with damaged self-esteem and a harsh inner critic.
I knew that the remedy to prevent the child from believing he was bad/wrong was to have the podcast host communicate to his child in a calmer, loving voice and to assure the child that even though he’d made a mistake and needed to leave the room, he was still loved and that daddy was looking forward to spending time with him later.
But I didn’t say anything.
I didn’t think it was my place to provide unsolicited parenting advice. Especially considering I’m not a parent myself.
Plus, we were smack dab in the middle of an interview.
Reflecting back, I realize those excuses were nonsense, and that my not gently offering an alternative method of responding did his child an injustice.
And so, as penance for my error, I share this story with you today, in hopes you take from it the valuable lesson I kept quiet that day.
If you have children, please, please make sure they know they’re okay and loved and good even when you’re upset with them.
Assure them you love them, even when you scold them. Assure them you love them, even when you punish them. Assure them they’re okay, even when they make mistakes.
Doing so will save them thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of therapy (or MindFix sessions) when they’re older — I promise.
And as for me, I assure you (and myself) I’ll step up in the future and actually say something (gently) whenever I feel I see an opportunity for a child to experience a better reality and better future.
When you're tired of getting in your own way, and you know you're capable of SO much more, it's time to talk to us.