“The event doesn’t matter…it’s what happens next that matters”.
If parenting is the gradual disappointment of children, then ruptures are unavoidable. In fact they are a good thing. As it is through 1000’s of ruptures and repairs that a child discovers that there is no fear of disappointment, a key part of learning how to hate well… “You annoy me, but we are going to be ok”.
Disappointment naturally happens in any important relationship. If you are confident you and your actions are good enough, then when your child complains about the rupture you can celebrate in the knowledge that it is in the offer of repair of the rupture that your child is growing up.
While ruptures occur easily, repairing can be more difficult. Below is one approach to helping create repair:
- You and the other person have to be calm enough. May need to delay trying to repair (but don’t avoid it). “When we are calm we can talk and fix it”.
- You have to connect with the other person: you validate the rupture and their experience of it, and offer to fix it with them if they want. And expect to have to repeat the offer, as you will likely be rejected a couple of times before they engage in repair.
- Then you can do the actual repair:
- I want to understand you…do you want to understand me? Do we understand each other?
- I’m sorry for _____. How can I help you….do you want to know if there is something I’d like you to be sorry for? How you can help me?
- Plan for the next time the event / rupture occurs.
When it comes to growing up, it is not each individual rupture-repair that matters, but the child’s experience that overall, ruptures generally get repaired enough.
I have made a video about rupture and repair, and you can watch it here