At one time or another, we’ll all probably experience something big in our lives, whether it is a hurricane, another natural disaster, or something else that wasn’t expected. We don’t have to wait until our children show signs of distress to try to help them. There’s so much we can do as things are happening and immediately after to lessen the impact of those experiences.
Everywhere we look nowadays, children are being diagnosed and labeled with disorders based on their behavior, with acronyms being placed near their names. “Johnny has ADD, that’s why he can’t sit still.” “Sherry has RAD and that’s why she can’t attach to us.” “Vinny is on the (autism) spectrum.” But how does it help to label our children?
When we start to connect with our children’s stories- both through the telling and by listening in a different way to what they’re sharing about their stories- we open up to a new kind of relationship with our children. Sometimes the storytelling really helps a child to sleep more soundly. Sometimes transitions during the daytime get easier. But, new possibilities for understanding and changing behavior patterns almost always begin to emerge.
It seems that sleep-deprived parents are given two choices: cry- it-out or just wait until they outgrow it. But is there another way? Was my son’s lack of sleep more than just an inconvenience? Was he trying to communicate something to me through his night waking?
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.
“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.
When you give up, it might be too late.
When you lose all hope, it might be too late.
When all you can see is the darkness,
it might be too late.