Becoming the victim of a mother’s optimism

Most of the time, I would call myself an optimist. I can’t seem to help myself – I see potential in other people, including my children. I believe in their ability to bounce back when faced with challenges, to find those inner resources to get up and try again, even when it is tough.

But sometimes, I voice this belief too quickly. They do not feel heard and argue the case for their perceived “victimhood”. In my efforts to encourage them to rediscover their agency and act positively in their circumstances, I may inadvertently contribute to the opposite. They feel they are also victims of my deaf ears.

I have to remind myself to stop, listen attentively to where they are, hear underneath the words to what might not even be said, and acknowledge that they are in an unpleasant space, often through no fault of their own. Sometimes, my response should be, “I am sorry, it sucks.” Once those feelings have been voiced, and the difficulties not trivialised by over-optimism, they can use their energy to get out of the hole instead of having to convince me of the depth of that hole.

Thank God, there is grace, even for our good intentions.

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