Our children teach us how to love deeper
Tree roots can spread much further than the height of the tree. The stronger the roots, the healthier the tree. If the roots of a tree are damaged or cut-off, the tree will show stress symptoms and become unstable. It will lack nutrients and water to grow healthy and flourish. Signs of distress will then appear in the buds, the branches and the foliage.
Like a tree, the branches of a family blossom when its roots are strong. If the roots are cut-off, symptoms will become visible in the descendants, in children and grandchildren. Our children’s behaviors bring a systemic message: they express the disruption in the flow of love between members of their family. Their destiny is to show us what needs to be seen in the past with love.
This means that everyone excluded (cut-off) by the family (either in the parents’ or previous generations), will be represented by a younger one in order to be seen and re-included by the adults. From a systemic perspective, children are at the service of their system and carry the family wounds that are yet to be healed.
How do they do that? Through their disruptive and agressive behavior, their learning difficulties and their mental and physical illness. Children see what their parents and grandparents can or could not see with love.
Children imitate the ones who were despised by the family, they repeat the destiny of the victims who were not honored: “I will be like you”; they atone for a perpetrator who did not take responsibility for their crime “I will pay for you”; they compensate for an injustice “I will take revenge for you”, they follow the ones who died young “I will follow you”; they take over emotions that could not be expressed “I will express it for you”. In their addiction, depression, risky behaviour, autism or dyslexia, children are often remembering an exclusion.
So who are the ones our children see and we don’t? Who are those presences that they can feel and they are entangled with?
It can be someone who has been excluded by the parents: A former partner of the child’s mother who was despised, betrayed or died suddenly. Out of love, the child will live the former partner’s emotions and enter in rivalry with her father, or will be loyal to that partner’s pain by not having successful relationships. The healing movement requires to look at that former partner with love, because this former partner left the place available for the child’s father. And the child was able to be born. Acknowledging that the former partner’s loss was the father’s gain, and the child’s gain. Children are loyal to the ones who made place for them to be alive.
Sometimes children connect with family members who have been forgotten, like premature deaths and miscarriages. These events have a big impact onto the family system, and children are very sensitive to those earlier deaths and may have a longing to be reunited with them. Grieving those losses and remembering them will free our children from having to represent them.
Often children also remember someone who has been excluded by the ancestors. Perpetrators or their victims, an alcoholic, a lover, a child who was born out of marriage, biological parents in cases of adoptions, children given up for adoption, a prisoner, someone suffering from mental or physical health.
In any case, it seems like our children are working hard for the survival of the family group, unconsciously trying to reintegrate the ones who have been left behind. Like wholehearted lifesavers, our children are rowing their little boats in an open sea, trying to rescue the ones who were left stranded by the family consciousness. Their love and loyalty to all members of the family is unconditional. But they are too small to be lifesavers, they don’t have the skills nor the autonomy for such a titanic task.
What can we do as parents? Refrain from looking too hard upon our children’s symptoms. Standing next to them and looking together at what they are looking at. Looking long enough at the forgotten ones until we can feel them. Then we can tell our children: “Thank you for carrying this for us. This was too much for you to carry. Now I am looking at the excluded one, he doesn’t need you anymore. You can enjoy life now.” And we free them from our gaze. They can set themselves free from the entanglement.
“What we label as “difficult behavior” is actually love toward an excluded one“, observes Bert Hellinger. Our children teach us how to love deeper. How to include in our heart the outcasted. Joan Garriga says, “There is not more fertile soil than our own origines.” It’s up to us to look back with love and deep gratitude to our origines and say to each of them: “Thank you for being my ancestor”.
Photo: Pep Gasol