Friday, 18 January 2013

Thought Picnic: The many umbilical cords to cut


Cutting the cord means survival
The first umbilical cord by nature and for the preservation of life needs to be cut at birth; it is the time when the newly born baby has to begin a life of reflexive independence to breathe on its own and to take in food usually in form of milk to thrive.
However, that umbilical cord is the easiest to cut, there are many more that bind us to our parents or guardians, our communities, our societies, our beliefs and much else which should when the fullness of time is come be cut or the birthed will suffer a form of death – a death of freedom, a death of expression, a death of happiness, a death of ambition, a death of hope – too many deaths whilst still alive and it might breed resentment, despair, rebellion or depression – it mimics the cycle of life.
The point in time
At the point when a baby stops being a foetus, that umbilical cord is cut; just as when a child stops being a baby, when an adolescent stops being a child or when an adult stops being an adolescent – that is would be the ideal path of growing up but it is rarely the case.
The responsibility relationship between guardian and ward is dynamic, between them the cutting of the umbilical cord is a function of age, individuality, expression, responsibility and sometimes success which could determine the leeway one will give the other to be better at what they are on the way to becoming.
The last cut
The most difficult umbilical cord to cut is that where the guardian has to accept that their ward has come of age, where the parent appreciates their child has become an adult and should be given the opportunity to learn their own lessons, live their own lives and chart their own courses.
Obviously, guidance and advice is useful but instruction and diktat is unhelpful; the atmosphere in which the child has been schooled in the home will however become the foundation of the confidence, the self-esteem, the determination and the drive that child has like it did when it ventured its first breath at birth and performed the first suckling reflex to take in food.
Taking places
At a point in time, the parent or guardian will have to be put in their place, not so much to be put down but to be respectfully made to understand that certain decisions are now out of their hands and their influence is at best advisory and nothing more.
Along the line, between agreement and conflict whilst growing up we also encounter the more difficult elements of gaining our individuality. Expectations are high, criticisms are rife and praise is rare, punishment is severe sometimes to the point of brutalisation and power is wielded with deathly omnipotence that it feels easier to walk through prison walls than extricate oneself from parental overreach.
Parents do overreach and in the process attempt to blackmail their children thinking their parental responsibility required of them by society to provide the basics of protection, food, shelter, clothing, education and good example is the fullest expression of love without accounting for the deeper emotional needs of the child which will never be met with things.
Tough love facts
We did not ask to be born, but we have been born and there should be more times in our lives that we are grateful to have been born, to have the parents we have had and to have had the care and affection that they have showered on us from when we were hopefully bundles of joy at birth through when they patiently tolerated with exasperation their inability to control the child who is still under their roofs.
However, we return to the matter of umbilical cords or in other parlance apron strings. Children are not clones they are unique personalities moulded by the environments in which they grow, interact, find safety, experience abuse, feel love, witness hate, find acceptance and know rejection – we are moulds of situation and circumstance that are subject to the casts provided by those whose responsibilities we were in our formative years.
The path to acceptance
The healthiest relationships between parent and child will only find fulfilment when they all channel the Kübler-Ross model, which first studied the five stages of grief.
Denial comes with the guardian not believing that the child has come of age, there is anger that the child is not conforming to expected norms, there is bargaining as to how to regain the best control and influence over the child, then depression coming with unfulfilled promise or sadness that a situation might have become a lost cause and then finally, acceptance – accepting who the child has become; an adult with their lives, their goals, their purpose and their own decisions.
The point of acceptance is when the parent begins to respect that child and honour that child with guidance and advice rather than instruction, coercion and blackmail – the healthiest relationships will bring better communication, deeper interaction, more happiness and a glad heart for that parent as they approach their waning years.
It’s you or them
If the parent will not wise up to that necessity, then the child will at a certain point in time have to be respectfully forthright, frank, direct, honest and true – they will eventually have to find words to say, “I want to be able to live my live as a person, unique, independent, fulfilled and appreciative of you out of recognition of who you have been in my life.”
Acceptance or frank expression on the side of the either the guardian or the ward is that umbilical cord cut for the relationship to thrive. If you have not cut it yet, consider how better things can be if that realisation first dawns on you and then you make them see the light.

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