I have the kind of profession that inspires some kind of reaction from others. Like sometimes when I tell someone I’m a psychologist they pale and find a way to get away from me fast.
Or they ask if I’m analysing them. Normally I say, “Yes”, just to mess with them. It usually breaks the ice. And, after some bad experiences, I’ve learned to lie about my profession on airplanes otherwise my seat neighbours start to tell me inappropriately intimate stuff and I’m trapped in a long-haul therapy session.
My partner used to tell me not to psychologise him (so I do my best not to) but he will sometimes, in moments of frustration with me throw out, “And you’re a psychologist!” (in other words I really should know better). When I meet people who have a psychologist parent I tend to say, “My condolences” which they find so funny I know it’s hitting some truth.
People have asked me if knowing so much theory about childhood and personality development has been helpful as a parent. In some ways I think it makes it more tricky – my children learn ‘feeling words’ quite early and use them on me (“Mama the way you said that made me feel unimportant and like I was bad in some way” – from my 8 year old son), also I am frighteningly aware of the many ways my own issues might warp my children – but sometimes, like the other day, I am ever so grateful for it.
It was the video games conversation that brought it up. I was trying to explain to my Ninjago-loving child why I do not allow him to play fighting video games. You know the dush-dush-thwack-AAAAH! ones. We went back and forth a while with the usual, but-everyone-else-plays-them and the every-family-is-different-and-in-our-family-we-don’t conversation. You know, the one that comes in your standard pack parenting kit.
He pushed me though, he wanted to know WHY in our family we don’t. I needed to explain myself. So I thought and then said, “There are games that are about improving your skills at shooting or fighting and those are ok with me because you are mastering a skill. But those other games are about hurting and killing and I don’t believe in that approach. They take away your feeling of care about the creatures you are meeting. You don’t see them as beings, you just want to kill or maim them. But God made baddies too, you know! They are also Mother Earth’s precious creatures.”
He looked at me in wonder. So I went on – listening in wonder myself, waiting to see what would come out next.
“Baddies are usually just people who have been hurt. They have forgotten who they really are. They can’t see their own glory anymore. It really hurts when we forget we are wonderful and worthy of loving. We all have times like those but they are so hurt they have closed their hearts and that’s why they can do the things they do. What they do isn’t ok and we definitely need to stop them doing those things but I don’t believe that we should just hurt or kill someone who is already so hurt. I believe we should remember that they are actually shining beings. We must remember because they have forgotten that.”
There was such huge love and compassion in the room as I spoke these words. It was palpable and the two of us sat there in it thoughtfully.
Then he asked in wonder, “Mama, how do you know this stuff?”
And I answered, “This is what I do, my love. This is my work. To understand what makes people do what they do and to help hurt people open their hearts again.”
I am ever so grateful for it.