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.
“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.
From the time our children emerge from the womb, we’re bombarded with questions about how well our babies sleep and eat. These questions sound innocent enough, yet seem to seek that deeper question of how much our children depend on us, how needy they are, and how independent they are from day one. It is unspoken, but it seems that the better our answers are alluding to the un-neediness of our offspring, the “better” we are as parents. And new parents are vulnerable. Even if we don’t believe that our children shouldn’t be needing us, doubts can creep in unwillingly to even the strongest parent whose baby is getting up again in the middle of the night at (gasp) 8 weeks old. Or 8 months old. Or 18 months old.
Lately, I’ve been really reflecting about what families can do to create more nurturing experiences. With my recent experiences with the work of Hedy Schleifer and Crossing the Bridge, I have some ideas that might help you start thinking about the simple things you can do to create more love, connection, and nurturing in your family. Hint: It doesn’t have to take a lot of time!
It’s October 31 and here in the US, that means Halloween for many families. I have a love-hate relationship with this particular holiday. I love the costumes. I love watching the kiddos dress up and come to the door. But I don’t like all the candy and what that does to our family- the battles, the moodiness from the sugar, the changes in routine, the excitement of the whole thing that overwhelms the little ones. Perhaps you’ve been there, too?