The theme of our Winter 2020/21 issue is sovereignty, and we greatly appreciated our parenting columnist Anna Cole’s thoughts on this, from a parenting perspective. Please enjoy a sneak peek of her article below! You can read the full piece by picking up a copy of our Winter 2020/21 issue – click here to find your nearest stockist, or subscribe here to receive a copy direct to your door.
Sovereignty and Special Time
Honouring your child’s choices
by Anna Cole
Sovereignty synonyms: jurisdiction · supremacy · dominion · domination · sway · predominance · authority · control ·
It’s a big and wonderful word, sovereignty, and one that is more and more on people’s lips. So I was curious to realise that each of the tools I teach as a Hand in Hand Parenting instructor relate to giving sovereignty to the child, in ways that are safe for both the adult and child, and don’t turn the adult-child relationship permanently upside down.
Most adults struggle at times to ‘be’ in our ‘adult’. In mainstream culture, we’ve mainly lost rites of passage for becoming an adult, and many of us had parents who carried both cultural and psychological wounds that led them to act from their own ‘adaptive child’ place. Our ‘adaptive inner child’ is the part of us that dealt with the trauma of our childhoods and figured out how to adapt in order to protect ourselves and survive.
Terry Real, internationally renowned family therapist and author, who – along with Pia Melody – coined the term ‘adaptive inner child’, explains that most of us are paddling hard underwater like the proverbial swan, to stay out of our ‘adaptive child’ long enough to make grown-up relationships work. Most of us need skills and support to learn how to ‘adult’ well, be a parent, and give our real ‘outer’ children sovereignty – over their emotions, their actions, their words – without letting our own inner child run the parenting show.
Many of us were raised in the old paradigm of authoritarian parenting. In reaction to this, some of us can seek to provide sovereignty to our children as much as possible, and this can easily leak into permissiveness. This becomes frightening for a child. It’s scary for a child not to know where the edges or the limits are, or to feel like they are more in charge than their parent. It is our sacred duty as an adult and as a parent to set loving limits and have response-ability for the rhythm and structure of our parenting days.
Anna Cole, PhD, is a researcher, writer, and Regional Lead for Hand in Hand Parenting.