Is your daughter having trouble keeping an open mind? Are you?
Below are five practices that, if you cultivate and allow for them, will C.A.U.S.E. both of you to keep an open mind.
It’s a given that adversity is going to come our way. It already has and it will again. This is a certainty for your little girl – and you. Keeping an open mind about the challenges we face is hard. Keeping an open mind about what your past pains mean to you can be even more brutal. The past is particularly tricky because we often create its meaning without trying.
Causing an open mind is vital for the well-being of our past, present, and future. Our orientation to being open-minded is usually facing toward what’s outside of us. You think about your friends, family, school, work, and other objects in your life. And we usually understand that the source of the open mind is inside us somewhere. We may not be well-practiced, but we are more familiar with this line of thinking.
Despite this, we rarely hear messages causing us to be more open-minded about ourselves – about who we are. From within ourselves toward ourselves. There are voices everywhere telling us who we are or who we should be. Yet, it is open-mindedness toward ourselves that is the very foundation of all openness.
Let’s begin with the practices.
The Five Practices
Practice One: Cultivating Openness
The best opportunities to cultivate open-mindedness starts whenever your girl presents you with a question about life. Or, when life questions appear in your own mind.
How you approach these questions teaches her how to think. Your discussion, not the solution, helps her learn how to be. She learns how to approach the world and her own sense of self. Opening is not answering. It is discovery and inquiry. It’s the movement toward allowing ourselves to be and accepting what we find.
The keyword here is cultivating. There is a trajectory – being more open. In fact, that is exactly what questions about self and life are – they are our mind’s attempts to open up.
It’s important to remember not to worry over the times you may not have been open in the past. Whenever you start, it’s the starting that makes all the difference.
Practice Two: Acknowledgement
Where you live can influence your willingness to do this – but you must try. We might worry about the culture around us. We may remember our own painful past.
It is important to acknowledge these points of stress or contention. Don’t dance around them – your child will know and will sense your fear or apprehension. The best you can do for her is to be upfront. Let her know you understand and that you see the issue. Show her you have the courage and power to address it – which will give her the courage and power to do the same.
If you pretend that it doesn’t exist, so will she. It will get stuffed down, locked up, and stored away for some disaster later in life.
Practice Three: Understanding
Understanding takes on many layers and different flavors. People understand the world differently. This should be your point of departure as your discussion with your girl begins to look for answers.
Now more than ever, everyone is aware that there are different points of view. Seeking to understand these with your daughter will be invaluable. Help her by explaining why things are the way they are. This practice will develop critical thinking with your daughter. It will give her the confidence and skill to articulate and develop her own points of view.
Practice Four: Space
Allow the space for her to form her ideas.
Your child will not think at the pace you do – at least not in the beginning. Your adult mind and attention can navigate your thoughts much faster. You must give her time to think about what you’ve discussed together. Let her come up with her own words and ask questions in her own time.
Be willing to let the conversation go and develop later. Unless there is some imminent danger or threat, you do not need to explain everything to them at once. You can exhibit patience to her by allowing the conversation to drop and revived again later.
This leads us to the final practice, exampling.
Practice Five: Exampling
Exampling can be an art form and requires some savviness on your part.
If an important conversation or topic has come up with your child – you can be sure it will come up again. Don’t put all the pressure on one conversation. Relax in the knowledge that you will have the opportunity to lead and teach by example.
Leading by example is demonstrating to her your willingness to remain open. Yet, exampling takes this a step further. Here, you let the moment become the leader. Point out the moments that offer clues to what she has been discussing with you. We can be great role models, but sometimes life’s moments are the best teachers.
No need to be militant or pushy with this practice. Remember savviness? How and when we point it out is crucial. We need to use the other skills we’ve been developing. Exampling should be done with love and care – not an ‘I told you so.’ No need to pull her aside or call her out in front of others. Take care even around her siblings.
When the moment arises, you can say, “Hey, remember when we discussed this? What’s happening now is a perfect example.” If you need to just say “hey, remember when we discussed…?” and then let them know you want to mention something about it later. That will cause them to pay more attention to what is happening in the moment. It’ll be clearer in their mind when you come back to it.
And sometimes, the moment will pass. And that’s fine. Following this practice will reap many rewards over the long term.
Stick with It!
These may not be easy at first. You may feel uncertain as you move forward. Think of them as an evolving growth process. These practices will cause you and your girl to develop an open mind and set the stage for her to mature into the young woman she can be.