Educaring our way through difficulties

Just yesterday a parent sent me the sweetest 45 second video of the way her household was weathering the rainy Saturday morning. It wasn’t a carefully crafted TikTok, but a serendipitously captured moment.

The space is quiet, save for a recorded audio book running in the background, as her 4-year-old colored on the floor…completely absorbed. The camera turns and you see her 4-month-old lying peacefully on the floor in his room, completely absorbed in the toys he is touching and looking at. The camera pans back to the 4-year-old, and as the parent backs away slowly, the narration suddenly seems a bit louder “This is so nice! I wish it could be like this all the time!”

Ah, yes. I felt my shoulders coming down and relaxing as I watched, and yes, I want every rainy Saturday to be like that, too! But the narration continues… “’Me too,’ Elsa said wistfully…then she caught herself and stiffened, ‘But it can’t.’” Now, I don’t know what Elsa’s reasoning was because the clip ends (sorry, I think I’m the last human on earth who has not actually seen or listened to Frozen!), but I agree…it can’t always be like that!

Life is bumpy and prickly. We have challenges and setbacks. We have disagreements and arguments. We lose people and pets we love. We grieve and… we grow. And here’s the thing…we grow more resilient when we come back from a setback or challenge…when we repair a rupture in a relationship. We learn from our mistakes (hopefully!) and we learn that our relationships can be deeper and that we can be stronger.

That line…we grieve and we grow…it reminded me of a phrase I learned about mid-pandemic. We all know about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but I learned that there’s another possible outcome that comes from stress: Growth. I checked my archives and found the ​piece I wrote about it​, and as I skimmed it, imagine my surprise and delight when I got to the heart of the piece and it was a plug for the book that was written by the Keynote Speaker at this year’s ​34th Annual RIE Infant/Toddler Conference​!!

Talk about serendipity! In my article I say There will always be ruptures in our relationships: it is the nature of relationships! And as long as those ruptures are followed by repair, there is growth: our relationships get better. Not to add another book to your booklists, but I’m eyeing The Power of Discord: Why the Ups and Downs of Relationships are the Secret to Building Intimacy, Resilience, and Trust particularly to look more deeply into why this is, but I think this review nails it: in trying to repair, “we practice attention, connection, and listening. We practice our humanity.” It is in our efforts to repair that we give each other what we need most.

Of course, that was one of those books I never managed to read, but I will now!

Human relationships are messy, but the Educaring Approach primes us to sit and work through discomfort rather than rush us into the next feeling, the next milestone, the next thing. And the wonderful thing is we don’t start that practice with hard things…we start by holding ourselves in check when we want to push our child to be more outgoing or to share. We start by resisting the urge to solve every problem for children and to shush away every hard feeling. It’s in all those little moments that we “practice attention, connection, and listening.”

And trust me…it IS a practice. I feel it, too! I want your baby to learn how to move forward, your toddler to be gentle and interested in the feelings of others…I want this frustrating situation I’m dealing with to just be resolved already. And they will…and it will…we just have to continue to practice attention, connection, and listening.

Oh! And lest I forget…that Conference? It’s coming up on April 5th & 6th this year. It’s all online, so you can attend from anywhere (and you can watch or re-watch workshops for up to 60 days afterwards). It’s a great way to feel connected to a larger community of RIE-minded people and to learn more about the many ways this work can be applied. There will be TEN workshops, including one in Spanish, and one with Magda Gerber’s adult son! If you’re enrolled in a Parent-Infant Guidance class, you can ​register​ at the student rate, and if you’re not, the early bird registration is in effect until March 10!