Camryn and Skylar walked in the front door and immediately
Camryn said, "Skylar fed the dog sand, but he didn't die yet."
I set down what I was doing and said, "Explain that again?"
She proceeded to tell me that Skylar had sand in her hand and a
dog licked it. A little girl they were playing with said that her
dad told her that if a dog ate sand, he would die.
As Camryn shared this story Skylar began to cry and say, "Don't
talk about it, don't say it!"
I immediately sat down on the floor and asked both of them to
join me. I put my arms around them and told them that none of it
was true. I don't know much about dogs, but I do know their bodies
can tolerate licking a little girls hand when there is sand in
Skylar continued to cry with her eyes closed, releasing the
anxiety she had carried for that short amount of time as I said,
"You did nothing wrong, the dog is fine, what you were told is not
I said this over and over and we all rocked back and forth.
Camryn's body relaxed, seemingly relieved that this story she
shared did not have any validity.
This small simple untruth could have stayed with them, but
Camryn's decision to share allowed it to unravel before it became
imbedded into their belief system.
Not just the part about a dog eating sand, but that they somehow
participated in an event that could have led to a dog's death.
Maybe it wouldn't have affected them at all, but maybe it would
have showed up as a fear of dogs or a belief that they aren't
trustworthy enough to handle animals. Who knows?
But as I sat there thinking through these what ifs, I also
accepted the fact that I can't protect my children from every
untruth they hear.
They will hear so many in their lifetime and I can't keep it
from happening. From the simple to the grand they will hear
and experience things that scare them, and I know I can't be there
to unravel all of it.
But it made me more aware of how important it is for my children
to feel comfortable sharing with me. How important it is for me to
listen and accept.
I realized how important it is to live in an environment where
any question can be asked and any mistake can be revealed without a
long lecture, guilt trip or threat.
I realized how important it is for me to be quiet with my
children instead of constantly talking so they have space and time
I realized how important it is to have a calm house so when the
girls feel rattled they can come home to peace.
I realized how important it is to look them in the eye and smile
at them on a daily basis so they know that I see them and love
I realized why I want to be with them at the most open and
vulnerable times - right before bed and first thing in the morning
- so I can lay down with them in quiet and they can share their
fears, observations, worries, or joys.
I want them to know they can release these things from their
bodies and I will listen, love and support them so they can easily
let them go.
I never want them to sit in discomfort or fear and not share
because they are worried I will think less of them.
I want them to fully integrate that no matter what happens love
will always be the constant through our conversations. But this
can't be taught with just words, it's something they need to
I can't control what my children hear and what scares them, but
I can offer myself to them.
Not by prodding them with questions or holding on too tight, but
by letting go, trusting them, and having open arms and ears when
I can work through my own untruths, so many of them ridiculously
old, and clear out space so I have the room, patience, and clarity
to handle whatever they need to share…
And midway through this thought, Skylar stopped crying and I
I looked both girls in the eye, held their hands and said:
If you are ever afraid, if you ever hear something that
makes your insides hurt, if you ever think of yourself as bad or
question something you have done, please come talk to me, your dad,
or somebody else you trust. Don't carry the burden on your own.
Come home and let it go.
They nodded and ran outside, back to the real world. I
remained on the kitchen floor and had a brief cry.
I felt the untruths that I used to carry as a child. I felt
relieved that I could support my girls through this one. And I felt
scared that in the future they would make the decision to not
share, that their fear would be greater than their trust.
But I also felt soothed by the awareness that the best thing I
could do for them is know myself. The best thing I could do for
them is release my fears, let go of my untruths, and find my own
The best thing I can do for them is love myself so I can be
available, patient, open, calm and loving for them.
That's the energy I want them to feel when they walk through
That's the kind of security I hope to provide.
Read Cathy's Mindful Parenting column in October's issue of
And give a listen to Cathy and her husband Todd talk about
her column on being in the moment on Zen Parenting Radio.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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