Episode 4: Hidden In Plain Sight
Your child knows you have an image in your head of what you want him or her to be. You probably aren’t fully aware of this, but you are constantly communicating an image of your child to your child. You want them to have good grades, work hard, be honest, be respectful, and so on. Some parents have even more specific images for their children, like what sport they will play, what college they will attend, what specific qualities of a spouse they will have, maybe a specific value system that lines up with your faith choice and worldview. When they don’t live up to this image, we can get disappointed and frustrated with them. Whether it’s subtle or not so subtle, your child has a mental image of what you would like him or her to be. The problem with images is that they are not real. They don’t take into account real life. I’m going to unwrap this a little more in the next chapter, but if your children are not homeschooled, then they live in two completely different worlds. They live in your world, and they live in a social world that is incredibly demanding. What makes it even more complicated is that social media has made it easier for them to live in their social world while they are sitting five feet from you. Here is where the tension comes. They have a need to please you. You are their hero. They are not that far removed from a time when your voice was the only voice. Even if on the outside they act like you are public enemy number one right now, they don’t want you to be disappointed with them, but their world has drastically changed for them, and you really need to understand that. They trust you, but there are louder voices that are competing hard for their hearts and minds.The other part of the battle is that you have needs as well. You need them to be okay, to be physically and emotionally safe. You also want them to be successful, because success means safety. If they are doing what they are told and keeping up with their grades and responsibilities, then they won’t be engaged in risky behavior. They know you have this need, so they become actors. They become managers of the image that you have for them, as well as the image that their social world is demanding from them. Your children’s need to please you and your need to know they are okay can be the perfect storm for deception.