Daily Prompt: Banned

When I saw yesterday’s Daily Prompt was “Banned”, a memory came to my mind. Before I share what I recalled, let me give some back history.

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When my son Sreejit was a teenager he was into heavy metal rock music; he listened to it, played it on his guitar, and sang it. He wore black clothes most of the time. He even asked me to go to a couple of heavy metal concerts with him. It took some persuasion on his part, but I did go to hear LA Guns and Alice in Chains.

I drew a limit though when he decided he wanted a tattoo. There was no way I was going to support him in doing something that would permanently alter his body.

As I think about it today, I realize it was a good example of setting structure as a parent. As defined by Jean Illsley Clarke, there are four kinds of structure; rigid structure, non-negotiable rules, negotiable rules, and abandonment (no structure). Rigid structure and abandonment are forms of unhealthy structure; non-negotiable rules and negotiable rules are healthy. Non-negotiable rules should be based on safety of the child and/or family values. For me, no tattoo was a non-negotiable rule, it was banned.

Fast forward to 2013. Sreejit was visiting Seattle for the first time in several years. (He lives in Amritapuri, India.) His driver’s license had expired since his last visit, so he asked me if I would take him to get a tattoo. I was happy to do that. When he got back into the car, he showed me his new bicep tattoo.

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The words are Sanskrit and they mean “Through renunciation alone is immortality attained.” It is the motto of Amma’s ashram, the place where he lives.

Later Sreejit said to me, “I was pretty surprised you were willing to drive me to  get a tattoo.”  “Why wouldn’t I?” I asked.  “When I was a kid you were so against it.”  “That’s true, but you aren’t a kid any more!”  “Yeah, I figured, what am I waiting for?  I’m nearly forty.”

When I reflected on this interaction, I found it interesting that disapproval or questioning his decision didn’t even occur to me. Tattoos were more common in 2013’s culture than when he was a teenager, but that aside, it was truly okay with me for him to live his own life. If his life was in danger, or I thought something he wanted to do was extremely unwise, I would say so, but as an adult living on his own, there was no place in our relationship for rules.

I love having the memory of that shared experience, and appreciate the tangible example of how our relationship has moved to one that is adult to adult….. although for part of me Sreejit will always be my baby!

 

Written for Daily Prompt: Banned

I Love You…

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The Challenge for Growth Prompt that started on February 2 was to say something to a child that you wish someone had said to you when you were young.  I practice a developmental form of psychotherapy that derives from Transactional Analysis.  It uses a model that says that inside of us we have a parent part, an adult part and a child part.  There are subdivisions of these parts as well.

As clients heal from their childhood traumas and learn to parent their inner children in healthy ways, I have plenty of opportunity to talk to their child parts.  As a result, I say many things that I wish had been said to me.

There are six stages of development and each one has its own developmental tasks.  For example the first stage is called the Being stage.  It lasts from 0 to 6 months of life.  Two of the tasks children are supposed to learn during the Being stage are that they are loved and wanted and that their needs are important.  If those tasks aren’t learned, it may leave a developmental gap that could last throughout life.

Pamela Levin and Jean I. Clarke both created sets of developmentally based affirmations.  Pamela’s series offers five affirmations for each stage and Jean’s has seven or eight.  Jean includes a “Love” affirmation for each stage.  If you look below, you will see the developmental tasks, the age ranges, and the Love affirmations.  A child needs to begin hearing the affirmation when the developmental stage starts and continue hearing it forever.  For example, we need to hear that we are loved and cared for from the beginning of our lives until the end.

 

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Being (0-6 months)
I love and care for you willingly.

 

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Doing (6-18 months)
I love you when you are active and when you are quiet.

 

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Thinking (18 months to 3 years)
You can become separate from me and I will continue to love you.

 

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Identity and Power (3 -6 years)
I love who you are.

 

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Structure (6-12 years)
I love you even when we differ; I love growing with you.

 

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Identity, Sexuality and Separation (13- 18 years)
My love is always with you.  I trust you to ask for my support.

 

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Interdependence (Adult)
You are lovable at every age.

 

Consider saying the age appropriate Love affirmations to children that you know… and to the “children” that live within you!

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To learn more about the stages of development, the developmental affirmations, and how to fill in developmental gaps read:

Cycles of Power by Pamela Levin

Growing Up Again by Jean Illsley Clarke and Connie Dawson