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On rules, boundaries and creative flow with our children

The miracles questions changed it all

Tonight like most nights, the bedtime ceremony with our 4 year old and her little brother turned into a nightmare. This morning, like most mornings, getting everyone ready to leave on time for the train was also a deep peak stress experience. This is clearly a pattern in which my husband, my kids and I are all entangled. 

When there’s a pattern in our life which sucks the energy out of us, we can be sure that somewhere, we’re stuck into a belief we can’t even identify or hold on to so tight that we are not able to challenge it.

Patterns are the result of a paradigm in which we believe so strongly that we identify with and can’t see any other way. When you are stuck in a paradigm, you play over and over again the same scenario. You may know you are stuck but you don’t know how to get out of it. 

So the nightmare goes on and on… 

You may slam doors and quit or you may burn yourself out… We go as far as we need in order to accept letting go of our attachment to values that are core to our sense of self. 

Until one day, we are done with that story and we ask miracle questions. The miracle questions that have worked in many situations for me are these ones:

What is it in this situation that I don’t already know? What is it that I am not yet able to see? What is this whole story trying to tell me?

And instead of answering these questions, you ask yourself one more question:

What would I like to FEEL instead in this situation (with my children, with my husband, in the morning, in the evening). 

Feel it, imagine it as real.

When we answer that question from our heart, we begin to enter in the process of change because we have a real yearning for it.

This whole week, I have been asking myself this set of questions and I sat with myself every morning and evening, imagining, feeling what it would be like if our evening and mornings were enchanted with laughter, flowing in and out of the day.

Meanwhile, the story went on – our daughter woke up in the mornings telling stories and dreaming; got dressed and undressed; refused to eat, mindless of time; my husband tried to compensate and made some snacks for the train; we became slowly really impatient and desperate, trying to make everything fit into the clock; her little brother didn’t bulge and demanded to go barefoot in the snow at -8C and we explained over and over that this just doesn’t work until we finally convinced him; we missed the train; In the evenings, she postponed falling asleep by asking for another story, a song, another glass of milk; she was totally exhausted but wouldn’t lay down and instead asked for more; I got angry and told her I had enough and she burst into hysteria, banging doors, throwing toys and screamed….. 

I just watched the whole movie and watched myself going from frustration to anger, despair to calm, stiffness to softness…. I watched myself dealing with my attachment to FREEDOM and JUSTICE and the dead-end in which I was putting myself by refusing to set boundaries, associating them with control and shame.

And I am so attached to FREEDOM and JUSTICE that these two run on auto-pilot for me. It’s enough for the thought to arise: “It’s so rigid” or “That’s just so unfair” to pop-up and I am knee-deep into my pattern. The movie repeats itself….

What we need to understand is that we attract to us people who have similar stories and want to play in the same movie than us. It won’t stop, until we get ourselves out of stage and watch.

Asking the miracle questions helped me realise all this and for the sake of feeling the laughter, I was ready to question my own thinking. 

What I didn’t know is that: structure can be good and until I really find tangible examples in my life where I believe this, my children will not like structure. Until I really believe that holding a structure against my children’s will can be respectful, they will rebel and scream when I say no. 

When my daughter is dealing with an unmanageable anger, she is actually asking for my help to find a structure. She doesn’t want me to make the structure for her, she wants to be guided. That was an eye-opening moment for me.

How could I have missed that? She cannot understand the consequences of her decisions and it’s a hard way to let her learn through such pain. To start with, she doesn’t understand this man made structure that TIME is. Time doesn’t exist until we need to be somewhere at a specific time and she doesn’t have yet the analytical mind to prioritise or make a strategy: At four, she understands: “if I dont’ get dressed, I can’t leave home” BUT “if I don’t get dressed and don’t eat, then there won’t be enough time to do it all and I will be hungry” is just too much for her little child computer.

Our son (by the way he’s turning 2), is in this phase where he is detaching himself from Mother and he is rubbing his ego against me; if I don’t hold strong like a loving mountain, he will not be able to shed the mummy-dependent baby skin and enter into the next stage of life. The consequence is that when he enters in his twenties, he will be lost, without an inner compass. Isn’t that worth dropping my paradigms?

It surely is and that’s what the miracles questions helped me spot. For you, it may be different. You may need to embrace more freedom because your deeper paradigm is “rule is good, without rules, we are in chaos…” and what you want is to avoid over-using this paradigm so much so that your children don’t ever learn to be resourceful and find creative solutions…  or whatever it is. 

The miracle questions work the same and the whole point of the game called Life is indeed to explore other ways until we find the soft spot in the ever evolving balance of all things.

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