Monday, October 22, 2012


When I was about 7 or 8 years old I told my mom that I couldn't eat the bread because it tasted like the dentist - the smell that is in the air and the after-taste of a dental procedure. She got really angry with me. I could not understand how she could NOT taste it. But obviously she was just annoyed that she had food and dinner prepared and then I came along with a silly sentence like that. I still feel how badly out of space I felt back then.
A few months ago I read an article on highly sensitive children and the title was "This tastes like energy!" and when I read that I felt so peacefully gliding back to Earth.

So I started wondering if I am a highly sensitive person. Since this isn't something you can quickly answer I am not sure if I am but many many situations in my life would suddenly make A LOT of sense. When I read that High Sensitivity is genetic I was very carefully observing Leander. So far I would say - he is sensitive. Yes. But not HIGH sensitive. And in the end - does it matter ?

If a child is wild, loud and active he has written ADHD on his forehead before he can actually spell those letters. If he is quiet, observing and easily hurt - he is highly sensitive. What does normal mean in our society? And - is it really desirable to be normal? Do I want my child to be normal ?

When I lived in Britain for almost 5 years I was struggling a lot with who I am and what I am. And what normal was. Coming from another country and a slightly different culture I did dare to question a few things including binge drinking, all sorts of food abnormalities, meaningless small talk, forbidden to use but perfectly neat front gardens, separate water taps... You name it, I questioned it. I felt like an Alien for not just accepting the things the way they were (and surely still are) but instead in a German and very direct kind of way asking questions that felt no one had ever asked before me. (Fortunately I met people who indeed had too, phew).

It might sound hard but one of the best British people I met was my therapist. He took me back to the right path. The one that lead to myself. I finally realized who I was and most importantly: that I was OK the way I was. So all fears of suffering depressions, anxiety or any other mental disease he shook off me and instead stood me right back up. Of course this was his job and not something he did the first and one and only time. But he did it so well that I didn't feel that before I failed and afterwards was fine but instead was fine all the way through just never realized it. I am still very grateful to have found him.

So it doesn't actually matter if I am a highly sensitive person or not. It matters that I have discovered that all the things that seemed so abnormal ALL MY LIFE are just part of me. They have formed me and if others have a problem with that I shouldn't worry.

And I shouldn't worry if others now tell me that my son is a little more sensitive than other kids and that there are "various possibilities" I could do in order to help him... yeah well... help him do what actually ? All I know is that what he needs right now are parents who accept him this way. And who support him in this by helping him figure out his feelings and emotions so eventually he will be able to name them and find ways to deal with them. If he does not want his rice because it tastes like glue than he can have something else. If he decides that he will not go to a kid's birthday party I will not (unlike my mom did with me) force him to at least go over there and apologize for being so rude. I will do all I can to make him feel confident about himself and to stand up for himself and all his weirdest thoughts and emotions. Possibly (and hopefully) without him having to visit a therapist or by reading an article at the age of 33 when he has kids himself.

Somehow I have got the strange feeling that through parenting along the RIE principles I am actually doing all this already. At least a bit. And maybe (as my dear friend Anna from Every moment is right pointed out) children who are raised respectfully, whose actions and emotions are taken care of instead of thrown into boxes and drawers with tags like "terrible two", "stubborn", "shy" or "another phase" etc. might turn out to be more sensitive. Well with only having one child so far and him being only 2,5 years old all I know is that he might have taken his time to enjoy sliding, climbing, playing with sand, sitting in the bath tub etc. - but enjoys those things so much NOW, is so careful and observing that I won't dare "doing anything about his sensitivity".


  1. Sensitive is GOOD! This is what I tell the parents in my classes, because it is true. RIE-raised children are often more sensitive because they haven't been desensitized. Their natural awareness has been encouraged and protected from the start. They are absorbent. They watch, listen, pay attention, retain everything. This makes them excellent learners!!! Just you wait, Nadine!

    1. Desensitized (just took me forever to spell right) probably hits it quite well. Interesting that you say it too that RIE-raised kids are more sensitive. Makes sense. Maybe it's also one thing why I felt it to be the right way to rise our son from the moment I read about it. Thank you, Janet !

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