Wolves hunt by picking up the smallest or weakest animal, splitting him or her away from the protection of the herd and then going for the kill. Similarly, a child will instinctively know their parent’s weak spot and hone in on it, sometimes with unceasing and unremitting attention. This can be very very hard to bear, in fact many parents don’t bear it at all and come up with a myriad different ways to escape, from the ever present TV screen, to bribes, outsourcing parenting, or retreating back to the office.
However, I am starting to consider that there is a deep spiritual significance of such turmoil and in fact, a fantastic opportunity for healing. On one level, in trying to get some parental attention your children are highlighting to you, your own weaknesses and susceptibilities. In so doing they are giving you the opportunity to stare your own difficulties in the eye, and make peace with them. Once done, the healing will be complete and neither you nor your children will have to experience it again.
In many ways this is one of the most important jobs your child can perform for you… gnawing away at your falabilities until you can ignore them no longer. When this happens, and you feel that the pack of wolves are just on the point of making the kill and you have to fight for your mental survival, this is the moment to stop and to not react to your children. Instead find a way to turn your attention inwards and ask yourself what it is going on that you find so difficult to bear. Sometimes just a few deep breathes can do the job, take a time out.
In all probability this will relate to some distant hurt that was not healed. Now is the chance for you to heal it and move beyond. How you do this will depend to a large extent on what kind of person you are, but it’s not going away until you can look that hurt dead in the eye and no longer feel any hurt, pain or fear. You can lock yourself away, yell your children into submission or turn the TV louder all you like, but it will still be there. The key therefore is to, just at the point when you are screaming blue murder at your children, to stop and then realise that it is not they whom are the cause of the hurt. They are performing their spiritual work by reflecting back to you something that needs to be healed. They are not the wolves, they want you to be strong and giving. A parent whom responds as if to a pack of wolves is demonstrating victimhood, weakness and fear.
As in all aspects of the spiritual path, the exterior world is just a reflection of your internal progress. In my view, this is particularly intensely felt when parenting, as children are such wondrous reflections of how we feel about the world. There is of course the flip side of the anger and frustration that we feel towards are children, and that is the love and affection, again something which is reflected from within.