The concept of “I’ve got your back” has come up regularly in client sessions, especially couples work, because we want to know our partner supports us, is loyal to us and will stand by us when we are vulnerable and facing a challenge with a friend, collegues or family dispute. That doesn’t necessarily mean you take their side but that you take the time to listen to their views, empathise with them and support them to see the bigger picture and find leverage and solutions.
This also needs to be applied to your growing children. When a child begins to branch out and find their tribe, discover their own values and become a thoughtful individual, then we also need to change tact and support that growth by not enforcing our views on them but encouraging creative and thoughtful thinking. We need creative thinkers in this world and not blind followers that can’t see the bigger picture.
We can model values, we can discuss views, consequences of views, but it’s important to allow our partners and children to come to their own conclusions. To encourage individuality we do need to act as consultants because Tweens and teenagers often fall into the trap of following the crowd (who ever they are hanging around with). So if you are disturbed by some of their views, you need to have the kind of relationship that supports challenging their thinking without making them turn their backs on you… You need to be open to listening to both sides, to have their back no matter what.
I think I did this well with my own children as even when they did something that made me uncomfortable, like when Ben took up smoking at 18 or when I could see that his processed food diet was having an effect physically and emotionally on him, I knew I had to have two way conversations and not demand it my way. By having open conversations and talking through the issues, the facts and options he did come to his own conclusion based and based on his desire to change… He did.
Here are some ways that help when it comes to having your partner interests (or child’s – though some of these may not seemingly apply) and showing them you have their back… for strong relationships… Discuss each of and commit to them…
I’ve got your back…
I promise to be gentle with you and your heart.
I promise to allow you to have access to my heart.
I promise to tell you the full truth even when it’s sometimes scary to do so.
I promise to put effort into learning how you most like to be listened to, and then listen to you in that way as often as I can.
I promise to love and support you when you need it, and lovingly push and encourage you when you need it.
I promise that I will make myself as emotionally fulfilled as possible in my own life, in order that I can show up as my best self for our relationship.
I promise to be aware of, and own, my own emotional triggers and to never hold you responsible for my emotional response to things.
I promise to not waste precious time or energy worrying about who to place blame on. It gets us nowhere and it distracts from our collective goal of coming back to a place of love and connection.
I acknowledge that you are not your parents… and I am not my parents… and although we likely have some residual habits that they passed on to us, we can choose a new way if their way doesn’t work for us.
I promise to assume that you have the best of intentions.
I promise to assume that you are always coming from a place of love.
I promise to love and accept every side of you and all of your emotions, moods, and insecurities.
I promise to support you in your career, hobbies, passions, and anything else that makes you happy.
I promise to continually put effort into our relationship.
I promise to make distractions-free connection time a priority on a regular basis.
I promise to have a one-on-one date night/time with you at least once every month, no matter how busy or stressful life becomes.
I promise to always be open to talking about our sex life, no matter how challenging certain conversations might be to have.
I promise to always look for how you might be hurting in the moments when you try to push me away.
I promise to never hold the relationship hostage. I will never say “Then why are we even doing this?” or threaten our partnership in any way.
I promise to always cherish our relationship and celebrate it as the safe container for growth that it is.
I promise to always make you feel as safe, comfortable, and seen as possible.
Regarding all of the aforementioned statements, I acknowledge that when I say “never” or “always”, I will inevitably make mistakes. I am human, and I am not perfect. But I promise to always do my best and to promptly acknowledge when I have messed up. And above all else, I promise to love you.