Teaching your children that they belong

During a women’s retreat last weekend I asked each participant to share their “magic” – their gift, the thing that makes them come alive, the thing they love to share.

Maybe it’s something they do with their hands or their ability to listen and empathize.

It could be their creative ideas, their ability to take care of themselves, or maybe it’s their open-hearted perspective on the world.

We all have magic and our magic isn’t limited; we have many gifts, but sometimes one piece of magic seems to shine above the rest.

This is a gift and a key, and by claiming it we wake up the deepest part of ourselves, the part that embraces life and experiences joy.

But so many of us don’t know what our magic is or we don’t believe in magic at all.

We walk around thinking we should be different – more like our parents, more like someone on television, or more like our neighbor down the block.

We pine after somebody else’s magic instead of claiming our own.

As Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

If you believe you are supposed to be like others or do exactly what others do, life may feel like a struggle.

You will expend all of your energy trying to climb that tree instead of embracing the freedom and comfort of the water.

Your magic is comfortable, your magic is you. You may think that everybody can do what you do, but they can’t do it the way you do it. Your magic is effortless and enjoyable.

It’s not a competition; the world is big and abundant enough for all of us to have magic. It is unnecessary to steal or override the magic of others.

And if we embrace our magic on an everyday basis, in our work, in our parenting, or in solitude, we feel love and gratitude which enables us to give back to the world in a meaningful way.

Your kids know their magic. They are telling and showing you on an everyday basis. But if you keep expecting them to “climb the tree” they will begin to doubt their magic, which means they will doubt themselves.

Instead of “knowing” their place in the world they will look to you for their place in the world. And then when you aren’t available, they will look to others for their place in the world.And when others are quiet or unkind, they will believe they don’t have a place in the world.

You need to help your children play the game of life in a safe and educated way, but the greater and more powerful part of your job is to support them as they claim themselves.

It may be their unique perspective on the world or the way they care for others.

It may be the way they stand up for themselves or have a strong sense of fairness.

It may be the way they enjoy the simple things or see beauty and comfort in the world, or maybe it’s a gift in their hands or voice.

If you are unsure or you are in disbelief that your children even have magic, maybe you haven’t experienced magic personally. Maybe your magic is still a mystery.

If you cannot see your gifts, elicit the love and support of others. Allow others to share what they see – you are the only one that can fully acknowledge and embrace your gifts, but allow your loved ones to throw up signposts pointing you in the right direction.

You will know you are getting close when their comments bring tears to your eyes, when you experience what it feels like to be “seen”.

Then you will have the understanding and ability to offer this to your children; to allow them to integrate and internalize their magic at an early age.

Then they will know for sure they are more than a test score or an outfit, and they will know they are more than their greatest mistake.

They will feel what it means to be an individual with unmistakable purpose, and more importantly, they will know they belong.

We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. ~ Mary Dunbar

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