Holding the Inner Child

30/06/09 | Posted by Poppy

I wanted to write about Michael Jackson but perhaps it is too early with reports and revelations daily. I grew up with his music. I remember the comic strip TV programme of the 1970s and later on dancing to his music at the school and college discos. I've been thinking alot about my childhood and in a quiet way mourning someone who was part of it.

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Childhood is an odd thing and almost a modern invention. Of course there has always been that stage between birth and adulthood but it hasn’t always been a time to learn and explore and treasure. In the past, high infant mortality meant that survival was a key aim for parents who would hope to get at least a few children to adulthood so that the parents could be looked after in their old age.

There are lots of things that influence us in childhood that stay with us into adulthood; that form us and shape who we become. I had a wonderful grandfather, who had a troubled relationship with his family, but he loved me unconditionally, and I suspect that this early relationship has helped me see the good in others, even when it isn’t obvious at first. Those who don’t have those loving and supportive experiences can become wounded and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that Michael Jackson was missing something in his childhood when he created the Never Land Ranch as an adult. Most people don’t have millions of dollars to indulge their inner child and resort to drink or drugs or abusive relationships. The damage to the child leaks into adulthood.

Of course the damage done to Michael Jackson may not have been intentional. There are so many rumours floating around that it is tricky to know who to believe anymore but I know that as a parent it is very easy to do the wrong thing for the right reason. Some of the deepest wounds of childhood come from things that seem silly to others. I still get sweats from the humiliation of being the gawky one who was the last to be picked for games. That was 30 years ago and now I’m a dance teacher who can dance in syncopated 9/8 rhythm. This stuff goes deep.

When I look around at children around me some of them seem to be trying to grow up fast. Some children are being pushed to achieve huge amounts very young. There are the stage school mothers who push their offspring into West End plays or have their eyes firmly fixed on the 2012 Olympics with intensive coaching in the chosen discipline. These are extreme examples but it is easy to seek approval and acceptance by achieving the parent’s dream. Maybe some of this was underneath Michael’s difficulties.

Children used to be valued as support for the parents in old age. Now they are valued for the benefits they bring such as a larger council house or kudos for the parent as they achieve success in the material world.

Is this overly cynical? Perhaps?

The big idea behind Christianity is that God is love. All the rest flows from that – Jesus living two thousand years ago, his teaching, miracles, stories, death and resurrection.

That love is for what we are not what we achieve or have bought. Not for our big house or new car or medals or promotions. That is humbling. It is the inner child that is loved and always has been. That is an amazing concept.

There is an account in three of the four gospels about Jesus and children:

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me.” (Luke 18. 15-16) This is remarkable statement for a teacher in first century Judea but it doesn’t stop there:

” and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18 17-18)

So it isn’t wealth or power or achievement that is important, but something else. Maybe it is about loving and trusting with the wonder and simplicity of a child. That is tough though. There are so many layers that get added onto that vulnerable inner child in order to survive our modern world but it is the inner child who is loved.

So maybe this week try to see yourself as God sees you. Unique and valuable. Be kind and go gently.

And rest in peace Michael.

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