We fight for greater and greater independence, even as we yearn to be held tight and cared for. This is the essential tension that underlies all of human development and relationships.
We want to emerge from the ocean as a drip, whole and separate, but we relish those moments when we are once again immersed.
Everyone needs the relief and comfort of returning to that oceanic state now and again. Some psychologists argue that sleep is just such a surrender of self and a return to an oceanic state. More concretely, we all need a vacation from time to time. A release from the demands of maturity. A chance to let our hair down, to take a deep breath, hold it, and let it out oh-so-slowly.
You and I get this when we take a walk or go out for the evening or away for a weekend or a week. For some, it’s a massage or a concert or a good book. For others it’s two weeks in Europe. Not surprisingly, many people find that being in or on or near water—especially the ocean—brings with it that deep-breath, whole-body relief.
And our kids? Just because a day at school or a playdate with a neighbor seems like nothing compared to your workday, don’t assume that these activities provide your son or daughter with that same sort of relief and release. These activities probably demand their mature best.
Children usually find release when they know that their caregivers are in charge—when they know that the world is secure. They may not admit it and they often will resist it, but cuddling at bedtime or on the couch while watching a movie can be as critical to their emotional well-being as fruit and vegetables and exercise are to their physical well-being.
Excerpt from Holding Tight, Letting Go: Raising Healthy Kids in Anxious Times. By Benjamin D. Garber, Ph.D. Unhooked Books, High Conflict Institute Press.