Sunday, August 05, 2012

Me and My Shadow

Growing up I loved Peter Pan. It was one of my favorite stories and movies. But there was one part of it that I didn't like - I never liked Peter's shadow. He always got Peter in trouble and Peter was constantly trying to keep him in check.

We all have a shadow self.

From kids to parents to teachers and beyond - we all find ourselves reacting to problem situations in questionable ways from time to time. When we want or need something, we may do whatever it takes to get it and if we cannot, we will do whatever it takes to protect our ego in the meantime.

Our shadow selves need not run the show though. We can take control over how we react and respond to challenges and as parents or teachers we can model how to do that for kids.

Consider some "shadowy" practices you (and I) may have engaged in at some point.

  • The Work-around - bypassing the authority who stands in our way
  • Secret Identities - pretending we have "friends in high places" who'll overrule or punish the person we're dealing with
  • Burying Information - conveniently misplacing emails, notes, forms, or other evidence needed by decision makers
  • Claiming ignorance - deflecting judgment by saying "I didn't realize," or "No one told me," or "I wish I'd known," when you really did know
Why do we do these things? Usually it's to avoid a confrontation or to bolster a weak case. Maybe we're trying to buy ourselves and our kids more time. But ready or not, we need to stay in the light and out of the shadows when we act on behalf of our children.

Our shadow selves will always be a part of us - just like our real shadows. When our kids look at us, they see both. They will learn how to restrain their own shadow by seeing how we keep a bridle on our own.