As you know, we have recently overcome the separation fears of our 3 year old. We realised that for 6 long months, we have been worried, and plotting, researching and talking. Trying to make sense of his needs, and that delicate intersection where our own fears and worries overlaid his. It's the type of discussion that groups of parents are invariably drawn to. The topics under discussion are age and stage related. In all of the discussions I find, the person asking the question almost always has an unasked question hidden within their topic of discussion.
When we are conversing with our friends, we can sometimes talk in code. Afraid to reveal our deepest worries. Here's some overall topics that I regularly observe, and, how I hear people raise them in groups. Finally I've outlined in italics what the common root fear is.
Here we go:
- Help me make sense of this behaviour or experience: i.e. my child is (not) saying/doing/feeling X and I am doing/noticing/wondering/ Y. Does your child do this? Do you know anyone else that is doing this? The (often) unasked question; do I have real cause for concern.
- My child is different to their peers: i.e. the child's differences are observable to others and perhaps measurable by medicine/science. I know myself that my child has different traits, and these differences cause me worry and concern. The unasked question; will you still accept me/us if we are different.
- I, the parent, am concerned the 'fault*' lies with me: i.e. I am doing/saying/behaving in ways that are contributing or causing the problem. The unasked question; am I right, or am I wrong? If I am contributing to this problem, what does this mean for me?
- I, the parent, am having trouble in my relationship: i.e. it is super hard to keep my relationship with my significant other healthy whilst parenting, running a house and working etcetera etcetera times infinity. The unasked question; am I alone?
*Just to be clear, I don't really believe in 'fault' when it comes to the parent/child relationship dyad, except when there is abuse or negligence. I use this word because it is the common word I hear from parents when we are talking about this kind of topic.
Each time I meet up with my friends or friendship groups one or more topics of the broad topics above will be raised. Often per person. Sometimes for weeks on end the same things circulate, and the groups acknowledge, empathise and offer ideas. Often our concerns resolve themselves almost overnight too, despite hanging around for weeks or months. This successful resolution provides us with the growing feeling of maturity and success, which is instrumental for us in terms of our own development. We are all moving towards middle age (gasp) where we are expected to be wise(r), calm(er), more compassionate and able to hold greater levels of discomfort within ourselves etc. What I know for sure, is the greatest way to build this resilience and wisdom is to surround yourself with wonderful people. People that will answer you and address the unasked question hovering in the room - you are enough, you are welcome here, you might want to escalate this for peace of mind, you may be wrong in this instance - but you are not wrong in general, you are not alone.
Friends who can sense and articulate the unanswered questions are the ones who are worth everything. They are the ones who see past the surface level problems and dive deeper. The ones who are keepers for sure.