Our patterns, or how we deal with situations like this unconsciously, are set very early in our childhood. What we saw, felt, and experienced on every level is repeated, especially when we’re stressed. How do we change our patterns?
She paused for a moment. This pause was for her. She centered herself around the realization that her child was distressed and this was how he was expressing it in this moment. She wasn’t going to do what he was demanding. That would not be healthy for either of them. But she stopped what she was doing and gave him her full attention. She ignored his behavior in this moment and focused on him, her child, who was clearly having a rough time.
In addition to learning how to show love, knowing a person’s love language is also extremely helpful to keep from hurting them. We have taken to calling this, the opposite of your love language, your “Hurt Language” (or “Hate Language” as my son likes to say, since he thinks that describes it better). Basically, if you criticize a person whose love language is Words of Affirmation, reject physical contact from a person whose love language is Physical Touch, or refuse to help someone whose love language is Acts of Service, they will probably feel completely rejected and unloved.
We read during easy times when things are going smoothly and everyone is happy. But more and more, as he gets older, we have moments of misunderstanding, disagreement, and frustration. We feel disconnected and it can be hard to come back together. So often it’s those times where he asks me to read because he knows it will recenter us both.
“I’m scaring my kids,” she said as she sat in my office one summer day. “What scares me the most is that I don’t know how to make this different for me or for them.”
This is a common theme I hear from parents. They’re feeling completely spent, whether they’re going through a rough patch with their spouse, have just begun the process of separation or divorce, or perhaps there’s stress because there simply isn’t enough support to parent effectively.
“My son refuses to help out. He isn’t very independent. He wants me to do a lot for him and so I do. But I resent it.”
It brought up a great question. How do parents navigate those situations when we need our child to help out without resorting to yelling, hitting, or threatening? How can we consciously parent through it?
What do our children really need to be emotionally healthy and to feel nurtured in our relationship with them? Play is one of six things discussed in Rebecca’s upcoming book that we can do to nurture connection with our children (and our friends and partner, too).
“I’m so upset! He’s working completely against me. No matter what I do, he continues to speak to me disrespectfully. I’ve tried punishing him, but he doesn’t seem to care. What am I supposed to do? I want a good relationship with my son, but he’s making it impossible!”
Maybe you can relate to this mom’s struggle. She had tried all the usual suggestions, but things hadn’t improved. She had no idea what to do next. Many parents feel this way and find themselves at the end of their rope.
I’ve been there as a parent myself. I wanted to parent from a loving place, but my kid’s behaviors were driving me crazy. Like a really bad kind of crazy. I didn’t know what to do.
In the other room, a volcano seemed to be exploding. I quickly realized it was my 13 year-old son who had just gotten very frustrated with his iPod and launched it across the room. I was on the phone with a client and my husband was out of town. Seemed like an impossible situation just then. I wrapped up my session and went out to see what had happened.
Everyone wants to find peace. Everyone wants connection. But sometimes that’s just not our family’s reality. Maybe our reality is tension. Maybe there are disagreements and fights. Maybe we find ourselves disliking being around our child or the disconnection just feels bad to us and we want it to be different. Or maybe we’re overwhelmed. So where do we start when we’re far from a place of love, ease, and joy? How can we begin our journey to this seemingly elusive place?