I once asked my mother how she would ever judge if she’d done a good job as a mother? Her response was, “Every time you and Khosi tell me something you think might upset me, I know I’ve created a safe enough space for you and that’s how I know I’ve done a good job”.
Discipline in the Puso Household
I have no idea if my parents ever discussed how they would discipline my brother and I but, what I do know is that each of them always went out of their way to try understand why and how each of us made certain decisions, good or bad.
We used to refer to my parents bedroom as the courthouse but now I feel like we should’ve called it the interrogation room. Whenever we had done something bad or wrong, we would have to wait for my father to get home and he would call us into the bedroom. There was no spanking to be expected, just a few grueling questions and it was imperative that we be ready to give answers.
Creating the space for safe engagement
My parents always wanted us to tell them what it is that we thought we did wrong, why we did it, how it made us feel, how we thought it made them feel and if we thought it was the right thing to do? Here’s the thing, no matter what answer we gave, we were expected to follow it up with an explanation. Man, court was tough.
However, now I understand that my parents always wanted to create a space for engagement. It was never that “you are wrong, we are right”, it was a discussion.
We would unpack every choice that led up to the incident and the outcome. We even had the opportunity to decide our own punishment. My dad would always ask, “What punishment do you think is worthy of the crime.”
They created a space where we felt we could argue our point, right or wrong, even though it was pretty obvious when they didn’t agree because once you’d been summoned to court, you knew they had a problem with what you did anyway.
How have I translated this in my own relationships?
I currently have no children so I can’t argue that the method would work in a parent child relationship but I have used it in my relationships with friends, partners and family members.
It has always been important that I create a safe enough space for the people around me to be totally upfront and honest with me. I can’t say that opening up a channel of honesty has been easy or fun.
I’ve had a partner tell me he didn’t love me and another tell me he wasn’t completely happy being with me. That kind of truth is never fun to hear but I believe that creating this kind of space has allowed former partners, friends and family to always keep it real with me.
Finding my own safe spaces
I personally believe that creating a safe space is something one does consciously. I’ve been very intentional about it. This blog is yet another attempt of me trying to do just that. Writing is a kind of a therapy for me.
I have noticed however, that most times I overshare and other times I’ll dress up the truth so that it’s consumable. I think this is also when I’m not being intentional about the message.
However, sometimes I get it just right. I share just enough to spark conversation and not so much that people don’t feel like their opinions wouldn’t count. Someone asked me what I’ hoping to get from starting a blog and to be honest, I’m hoping that whoever reads my blog and connects will, even if it is for one second, realise that they are not alone and they too can live in their truth.
Let’s think about this blog as you would a therapist’s room. Let’s counsel the girls inside of us. Let’s interrogate their hurt. Let’s interrogate the what, why and how. Let’s create the safe spaces they need to come out and engage.