As any relationship grows more complex, so does the effort to connect and find perspective. Often we have to approach our kids from multiple perspectives and shift gently from one to another until our child understands that we are trying. Sometimes that is all they really need.
Our efforts to see their side of life are very meaningful to them and can be critical at times when an issue is especially important to either party. The harder we work to get it right, the stronger our connection to our children will be. They grow so fast and their understanding changes so quickly that we must constantly adapt. We neither have the luxury of time, nor direct or clear feedback to help us understand. But if we have practiced accessing their worldview since they were very young, it will be easier and more meaningful as they are growing up.
Even as a young child, my son Max was confident and pretty self assured. I was surprised one day when he was terribly frightened by a large dog we ran into on a walk. He had never exhibited a fear of animals, and, in fact, relished the opportunity to play with them—especially dogs. He was about five years old, and although big for his age, still only about three feet short! We rounded a corner and surprised a rather large dog, which momentarily terrified Max. I immediately reacted protectively, dropping down to the ground and putting myself between the dog and him. When I looked at the dog, I was shocked at what I saw. At Max’s eye level, he saw huge teeth and an enormous open, snarling mouth and the he barking was much louder than I had realized. I picked Max up immediately and showed him the dog from my height . . . another perspective. He could no longer see much of the dog’s teeth and huge mouth. The barking was not nearly as frightening from this height.
Max was not completely calm, but he was considerably less fearful and kept his eye on the dog until we were safely out of range as his tears dried up.